Before fusion cuisine, the only way to taste two nations at once was to convince border guards to invite you to their annual picnic. Simultaneously sample multiple cultures with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of Mexican Mediterranean fusion cuisine at Cilantro in Salem.
Executive chef Esther Marin recently breathed new life into Cilantro's menu of Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine, infusing it with fresh meat and seafood dishes made with natural ingredients from around the globe. Diners can start meals with orders of camarones rellenos, plump jumbo shrimp swaddled in bacon blankets and filled with chihuahua cheese ($22) before trying the albóndigas al chipotle, mexican-cheese-stuffed meatballs cooked in a smoked-chipotle-pepper sauce ($21). Spokes of enchiladas, rice, beans, guacamole and pico de gallo spiral out from a hub of tender filet mignon ribbons on plates of tampiqueña ($25). Wall sconces shed a cheery glow over the restaurant and hover over ivory linens like fretful launderette managers.
Back when Cilantro opened in 2002, Boston Magazine praised the eatery for its "authentic, hearty, and diverse Mexican specialties," which they called "breaths of fresh air." More than a decade later, owner and executive chef Esther Marin still aims to keep her lunch, dinner, and dessert menus interesting, creating new recipes that infuse Mediterranean flavors into upscale Mexican dishes. Using only all-natural ingredients, she crafts entrees that range from cheese-stuffed meatballs in chipotle sauce to pork chops crowned with chihuahua cheese and pineapples. A selection of 48 tequilas wash down meals inside a dining room wrapped in exposed brick walls that keep diner’s conversations from escaping the restaurant.