NOM Tequila Grill
450 E. Harbor Blvd.
Ventura
652-5151
$7-22

As a newcomer to the Ventura food scene at the end of 2014, I ventured over to NOM Tequila Grill when it first opened. Our patio table just off the Ventura promenade was perfect (and continues to be), looking out IMG_04691024at the shimmery blue waters of the Pacific as light ocean breezes kept us calm and cool. The atmosphere and furniture were (and are) sleek, simple, dark and contemporary. You will not be overwhelmed by excessive cultural decorations, which may be a nice change — though that isn’t to say that I don’t like sombreros, flags and maracas. With the exit of C-Street Restaurant, a more formal, modern Mexican restaurant was a welcome addition to Downtown Ventura. 

It was a Wednesday afternoon when my companion and I decided to take advantage of the new weekday $9.99 lunch special. We had the place to ourselves. I know now that I shouldn’t have read anything into it, given that the place is packed on weekends and even some weeknights. It’s just evidence of Ventura’s slow-paced work weeks when it comes to dining out. From seven lunch specials, which included cheese enchiladas, Guadalajara barbacoa taquitos and Milanese tortas, my companion and I chose the carne asada burrito and the Ensenada fish tacos. The lunch special included a main dish, chips, a mildly spicy chipotle salsa, warm pinto and black bean dip sprinkled with cotija cheese (and I am sure diners come just to munch on that) and a drink (tea, coffee or soda). It has been said that it’s the little things that matter, and not having to pay an additional $3 for a drink, as is typical at most restaurants, went a good distance in my book of First-World concerns.

I was a bit frustrated that our initial contact with the server seemed to take too long for an essentially empty restaurant, but that soon dissipated as my appetite was curtailed with the chips and dip and the arrival of our lunch. As for me, not being much of a fan of fried food, I feared that I would be stuck with fried fish fillets for my taco special, but the server was quick to address it, saying that she too preferred them grilled and accommodated me with such. I was also able to trade the corn tortillas for flour. When my tacos arrived, I felt that the portion of fish was a bit on the small side, hidden in the guacamole, tomatoes and cabbage.  The tacos were served with the smoky house chipotle salsa and our server treated us to a tangy green salsa as well. It was a satisfying meal that didn’t leave me overstuffed and heading for a food coma on a work day.

The carne asada burrito was simple, the tortilla replete with chewy steak, Spanish rice and black beans,

Carne asada burrito  with Spanish rice and black beans

Carne asada burrito with Spanish rice and black beans

served with a side of guacamole, sour cream and salsa. It was a good, though I wouldn’t give it a standing ovation. Perhaps, next time, we will just ask to have the sides added before the burrito is rolled up as it was a bit on the dry side for my taste.

Our quick lunch at NOM was a healthy blend of good eats, beautiful views and a generally relaxing atmosphere. I still have plenty of options to try on the regular menu, including the ceviche, enchiladas del mar and the “Impossible Cake,” which sounds like you may need to loosen the belt buckle for, but if you are looking for something quick and easy, be sure to check out the lunch specials.