El Mirador has only been a wee blip on our radar screen. No reason, N and I just haven't been enticed to turn into their driveway before now. At least not until a friend told me that the building Willamette Burger Co. recently set-up business in was once the original location of El Mirador. I trust this person's food recommendations. She likes the same local restaurants as I do and has introduced me to a few new places. So when she told me El Mirador used to be a family favorite (before they moved and fell off her list), I was curious enough to drag N along with me (wait a second, is it possible to drag someone willingly? Wrong word.).
The exterior of the building looks a bit worn around the edges. Inside, they've decorated with bright, happy colors. The restaurant was just shy of being full and the buzz of conversation spilled out of the dining areas (though eavesdropping isn't much fun when you can't understand the conversations around you). The booths were full of family groups out for a Saturday night dinner and a few couples here and there.
I was happy to see that they serve the refried beans with cabbage & carrot slaw on the side with their complimentary tortilla chips. It didn't have quite the flavor as La Hacienda's, but their salsa was deliciously complex and helped to jazz it up. Though the chips tasted a little stale.
N ordered the Macho Burrito and I went with the Pork con Nopales for our entrees. Neither of us could pinpoint the flavor that made the sauce on N's burrito stand out (Parmesan cheese?), but it was deliciously different from the usual. The pork in my dish was browned nicely, adding to the flavor provided by the peppers, cactus, onions and spices.
Although our service was friendly, our water glasses were only filled once and our server visited our table a scant 3 times. I don't blame her. It seemed to us that she had responsibility for too many tables.
A Salemite recently told me that she loves their fajitas and yet another said we shouldn't miss their lunch specials. Except for the lack of service on that busy evening, I wouldn't hesitate to return.
1660 Lancaster Drive Northeast,
Salem, OR 97301-1922