This welcoming restaurant, one of the first on Southeast Division Street’s restaurant row, just gets better as the years go by. Owner Ben Gonzales and sous-chef Raymond Anderson seem to have intensified the Mexican flavors, dishing out menu staples like sopes de chorizo (crisp cornmeal bowls filled with chile-spiced sausage); chile relleno stuffed with pork, almonds and raisins; or a profoundly satisfying tortilla soup. Don’t miss the fork-tender barbecued lamb shoulder with tomatillo salsa. Even the salads are worth eating, especially the combo of greens, mango, jicama, pumpkin seeds and avocado. Service is warm and efficient if not always polished—I wish our waitress hadn’t plopped the dirty silverware back on the table—and the handmade tortillas are simply terrific.
IDEAL MEAL: An always perfect Cocina Traditional margarita, the day’s ceviche (often rockfish, balanced between tart and spicy), house special cochinito pibil (braised pork with pickled onion and black beans), chocolate pound cake with chocolate sauce and cinnamon ice cream.