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Yes, you can get authentic Mexican food in New Hampshire

03nodine - The papusa, a Salvadoran street food consisting of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a choice of filling - cheese, spiced pork paste, or refried beans. (Tom Long)
Tom Long
The papusa, a Salvadoran street food consisting of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a choice of filling: cheese, spiced pork paste, or refried beans.

WHO IS IN CHARGE Raul Cabrera, owner of the California Burritos Mexican Grille, offers papusas from his native El Salvador as well as Mexican food at the restaurant that opened several weeks ago in a strip mall in Hudson, N.H. He also owns a small taco shop in Nashua.

He said he was attracted to the new location “because there are a lot of businesses in the area and their workers couldn’t make it back and forth to our other location in time to grab a quick lunch, so we brought the restaurant to them.”

Cabrera lived in Santa Monica, Calif., and worked in restaurants there before moving east. He said the new restaurant is a true family affair and employs his wife, two brothers, and sister-in-law. The recipe for Burrito’s iconic papusas comes from his mother.

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THE LOCALE At California Burrito, you order at a counter and watch as your food is prepared in an open grill area, much like Chipotle but with a homemade, non-assembly-line feel. It’s a modern setting with steel chairs, a color scheme of blue and earth tones, and large murals on the back wall depicting scenes of Santa Monica by the Nashua art collective Positive Street Art.

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It is a particularly friendly venue. On several visits the staff, in their black uniforms, were always helpful and appeared particularly happy to be there.

ON THE MENU The restaurant serves a selection of burritos, burrito bowls, tacos, and quesadillas as well as beer, Jarritos soft drinks, Coca-Cola imported from Mexico made with cane sugar, and horchata ($3), a creamy, tasty beverage made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, and other ingredients.

We had to try the papusa ($2.10), a Salvadoran street food consisting of a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a choice of filling: cheese, spiced pork paste, or refried beans ($2.10). We tried one with everything and another without the beans and enjoyed both. They arrived hot at the table with the traditional curtido (a spicy, cabbage slaw) and a thin tomato salsa. It was a savory, satisfying starter to our meal.

We also really enjoyed the Dos Equis fish tacos ($8.75), three soft tacos (choice of corn or flour) with crispy beer-battered tilapia, cabbage mix, pico de gallo, jalapenos, chipotle ranch crema, and fresh guacamole.

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Also fresh and tasty was the chicken burrito bowl ($7), marinated chargrilled chicken breast on cilantro rice, smoky grilled peppers, and onions and a choice of salsa: in this case a fresh, tangy pico mango ($7).

We also tried the steak quesadilla ($8.10) with cheese, beans, and our choice of salsa verde. Like the chicken, the steak was chargrilled and sliced right in front of us.

Another specialty is carne asada fries ($10.25), which originated in Cabrera’s former home state of California. Think the Southern Cal version of a poutine: french fries topped with marinated steak, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese. Muy delicioso!

All the food at California Burrito is fresh, flavorful and abundant with beyond reasonable prices. Even kids get a deal with a choice of chicken, steak, or vegetarian tacos or quesadillas for $3.99. College students get 15 percent off on Thursdays.

What’s not to love?

California Burritos, 35 Lowell Road, Hudson, N.H. 603-402-2130, californiaburritosnh.com.

03nodine - Dos Equus Fish Tacos at the California Burrito Mexican Grille. (Tom Long)
Tom Long
Dos Equis fish tacos at the California Burrito Mexican Grille.

Tom Long can be reached at tomflong918@gmail.com.