Long before Division went crazy for bougie tacos, there was Nuestra Cocina.

Unlike all the new joints slinging slushy margs, it's remained a pillar of high-end Mexican food—a spot for second dates and trendy middle-aged couples and the place moms treat their high-achieving Cleveland High kids. Nuestra Cocina means "our kitchen," and it actually feels like a family kitchen, with a big patio, Mexican tile tabletops and stacks of warm housemade corn tortillas. It even offers cooking classes. And you might just want them, given that this is the best Mexican restaurant in town.

The cactus and mushroom tacos ($7) are among some of the best veggie tacos around, achieving a juiciness I thought impossible with these ingredients, and topped with tomatillo sauce and a handful of cilantro. The Achiote-spiced chicken is perfectly juicy, topped with Yucatan salsa and paired with crunchy sautéed greens.

The margaritas are made with both lemon and lime juice to achieve a perfect balance of sweet and tangy. If you're feeling more adventurous, the peach sangria is like a white-wine alternative to the house sangria, offering a lighter body with floral notes. For dessert, go for the chocolate cake with chocolate sauce, complemented by sweet and spicy cinnamon ice cream.

(Emily Joan Greene)
(Emily Joan Greene)

Eat: Hongos y nopales—cactus and mushroom tacos—($7 for three).

Drink: House margarita or peach sangria.

Most popular dish: Pollo asado en achiote con alcegas y salpicon—the chicken plate ($18).

Noise level: 60/100

Expected wait: It doesn't take reservations and waits can get long at popular times. And even if there is, you'll get tortillas to snack on as soon as you sit down.

Who you'll eat with: People in their late 20s on second dates, hip couples in their 60s, and families that have lived near Division before artisanal ice cream.

Year opened: 2004

2135 SE Division St., 503-232-2135, nuestra-cocina.com. 5-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday. $$.