Picante: Haute Tamale!

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman

Summer may be gone but it's plenty hot at Picante in Cambridge. Nothing beats a basket of chips and salsa along with a cold beer before you dig in to some of the healthiest cuisine north of the Charles.

James Lantry, a ten-year Picante veteran, serves up heaping plates of classic tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, salads and soup. We love that you can have it your way: add salsa, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes and onions to crank the firepower. . . or not.

Tuesday is for tamales with a raft of specials wrapped in corn masas. Picante's are stuffed with steak or chicken, pork or vegetables, topped with red or verde sauce, plated with black beans and salad. Our Monday favorite, the porque special is infused with oranges, then grilled with cheese.

Yes, dessert! Flan fans will want the "muy rico suave" custard. The fresh limeade is a seasonal tret. In Cambridge only, choose from a dozen domestic and Mexican beers and California wines.

Owners Richard and Raymond Faulkner developed the concept with former partner, Steve Matthews, "because there was no decent fast food in Somerville," said Richard Faulkner. "Steve had the recipes and before we had a location we'd invite 20 friends to the house for dinner," he added. "We got the lard out," Richard told me, "so our menu is ultra healthy." The oil is canola, the steak is flank, the cheese is Monterey jack and the sugar is absent.

© October 29, 2003 for The City Shopper
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