Nuestra Mesa

Let's talk, for a moment, about Mexican food. You know what I mean: slightly stale tortilla chips and watery salsa, lots and lots of smooshy refried beans, orange rice, and sour cream dotted with a single black olive beside that pale, finely shredded iceberg lettuce.

OK. That's not Nuestra Mesa.

Nuestra Mesa ("Our Table") was opened a few years ago by husband-and-wife team Todd and Tania Morovitz, who wanted to share the the vibrant, tongue-tingling flavors of Mexico with us poor, rain-lashed Washington starvelings. And until you've had a Nuestra Mesa carne asada taco with salsa roja and shaved red onions, served in a double-thick blanket of warm corn tortillas—well, perhaps you are missing something, in the flavor-experience sense.

I've been to Nuestra Mesa…um, let's just say a lot, so I won't have to embarrass myself with a specific number. I usually have tacos and their marvelous salad, prepared with seasonal greens, dried cherries, toasted pumpkin seeds, queso fresco, and a Serrano vinaigrette. When I do venture beyond taco territory, I've never ordered anything that didn't turn out to be absolutely delicious. (I can't stand hyperbole, except where it's merited. Nuestra Mesa merits it.) They use local, organic, sustainably farmed ingredients. The cocktail menu is exotic enough to please adventurous imbibers while easy enough to navigate if you just want some sangria or a mojito. (Two words about the amazing sangria: Housemade. Cinnamon. Syrup.)

Nuestra Mesa isn't just outstanding because of its food, however; it's also expertly decorated with an eye towards clean lines and unfussy adornments (that is, until you get to the bathroom, which is cram-packed with eye-pleasing oddities and treasures from Tania's native Mexico City). The walls are swathed in sunwashed tones of soft oranges, reds, and ochres, and—in an ironic twist—you'll see large black-and-white photographs of other Mexican restaurants on the exposed-brick wall (oh, that amuses me, every single time). Another plus, at least in my opinion, is that the restaurant is small, which gives the dining experience a more intimate, we're-actually-in-a-little-village feel.

My advice: When this season's endless gray days and rain-laden skies make you feel blue, give yourself (and your friends!) a massive mood lift by going to this happy place. Close your eyes and point to anything on the menu; you will not be disappointed (especially if you have the birria: slow-roasted pork with tomatilla-Pastilla chile sauce and orange-Habanero sauce, erved with pickled red onion, cilantro, radish, warm tortillas, and a side of chile Piquin hot salsa). While you wait for your entrée, sip a ginger margarita, sample the smoky salsa, and talk to your tablemates. After a while, you'll practically feel the sun on your face.

Nuestra Mesa
228 N.E. 4th Ave. in downtown Camas


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