The Heat is on at Caliente Kitchen

So I dropped into Caliente Kitchen (8 E Atlantic Ave, 561-450-6940), the new niteclub-ish Mexican eatery in Delray, for lunch the other day, just to see what they were all about. (Also because I was hungry.)

It’s a comfortable and artfully rustic space that suggests its Mexican orientation without being stereotypically “ethnic” about it. There’s a long bar with a screaming-red top and seemingly every tequila on the planet that suggests its intention to be a late-night hotspot, plus a menu of all your favorite Mexican dishes that suggests it also wants to capture the casual, less party-hearty dinner crowd.

I didn’t eat that much, just a couple of different tacos – grilled steak and pulled pork – but first impressions were good. Both come in neon-orange, chili-colored tortillas, a bit of showmanship that doesn’t add or subtract flavor but is certainly colorful, along with sides of rice and brothy pinto beans (which could use a bit more salt).
They also get a scattering of caramelized onions and queso fresco, plus sides of sour cream, guacamole (ripe avocados, freshly made) and pico de gallo (a precise dice of real tomatoes, onion and cilantro – it too very fresh tasting). The proteins were well-cooked and tasty, especially the pulled pork, which had a delightfully deep, rich piggy flavor.

The pork tacos were part of a lunchtime deal – three generously portioned tacos of pork, chicken or ground beef, plus all accompaniments and sides, for $10. It’s a lot of food – good food – and a damn good deal. Check it out.

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