Nuestra Cocina: Restaurant Guide 2014

2135 SE Division St., 232-2135, nuestra-cocina.com

[OUR KITCHEN] It's been a decade since chef-owners Benjamin Gonzales and Sharon Dooley-Gonzales brought their central Mexican cuisine to Division, but that street's subsequent explosion of dining alternatives apparently hasn't siphoned off a single customer from the airy, always full room. Maybe it's because the kitchen wears its acknowledged excellence without so much as a whiff of pomp. Its nimble servers arrive quickly with the specialty margaritas, house-infused tequilas, and mostly Mexican beer (the menu wisely dispenses with wine). They'll cheerfully explain any unfamiliar ingredients and offer reliable assessments of the day's specials, such as a grilled Mexican sea bass with roasted corn and salsa verde. Take a tapas approach and focus on the generous starters in lieu of the entrees— Yucatan lime soup with chicken and epazote, for instance, followed by sopes de chorizo (crisp masa cakes with spicy chorizo, black beans and chili). You'll taste more varied flavors and textures, and feel more inclined to indulge in the moist chocolate pound cake with cinnamon ice cream. ANGIE JABINE.

Pro tip:

If your server suggests a splash of almendrado (almond tequila) on top of your coconut sorbet, go for it. It's not up-selling—it's an inspired touch.

5-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. $$.