The shiny, new Milagros Fresh Mexican restaurant couldn't be more at home in Ashland.
Milagros opened in early August next to Market of Choice on Siskiyou Boulevard with an emphasis on fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients. Vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free diners will find their needs enthusiastically met by owners Steve and Susan Means.
Chipotle Mexican Grills in Arizona furnished the Means' inspiration for Milagros, which means "miracles." Susan Means had lived in Ashland for nearly a decade in the 1980s — operating The Gourmet Coffee Cellar on Pioneer Street — and longed to return after a nomadic existence that took the couple through the Caribbean, Florida and the Southwest.
While not exactly traditional Mexican fare, the food could be described as Americanized, healthful favorites. Think taco salads and burrito bowls. The care taken with ingredients, however, evokes home-style cooking.
Roasting and grinding all its spices, Milagros makes six salsas — ranging from no heat to spicy — and its guacamole daily. Beans are cooked from scratch, beef is from Oregon's Painted Hills and chicken from Draper Valley Farms in Washington. Much of the produce is organic and, like the meat, delivered daily. Milagros points out that nothing on its menu is ever frozen or microwaved.
The quality of ingredients means prices are a little higher than Milagros' closest competitor: Senor Sam's on Ashland Street. But like that restaurant, Milagros appeals to students, families and anyone looking for a fast-casual dining experience that isn't fast food.
Customers line up at a cafeteria-style counter, where meals are made before their eyes and to their specifications. After choosing entrees, patrons specify proteins and other fillings and toppings. Rice and beans can be added to a plate of tacos (three to an order) for $3.50; other items incorporate beans and rice. Some components, like whole-wheat tortillas or brown rice, are available for no extra charge while the addition of guacamole to most meals is $1.95.
But Milagros sweetens the deal for vegetarians and vegans, adding complimentary guacamole to items ordered with grilled vegetables or organic tofu. It's a thoughtful practice, as avocado brings much-needed richness and healthful fats to meatless meals. Besides, tofu and vegetables typically cost restaurants less than meat.
Recommended: Burritos are so packed with meat, beans, rice and other toppings that the tortilla almost isn't big enough; mild, red enchilada sauce gives soft, white tofu cubes a slightly spicy presence in tacos; guacamole house-made several times daily is exceedingly fresh and particularly delicious with house-fried, lightly salted, corn-tortilla chips; mix and match the six types of house-made salsa on any entree.
Alternative diets: Grilled-vegetable and organic tofu options for every entree; black beans are vegetarian; meats are natural, free-range, hormone- and antibiotic-free; most produce is organic; gluten-free items available.
Beverages: Ashland's Caldera and Mexican beers on tap, Mexican and domestic bottled beers; Valley View wines on tap, other local wines by the glass and bottle; bottled Naked juices, energy drinks, Jarritos sodas and Tazo teas; and fountain sodas.
Price range: Main dishes (tacos, taco salad, burrito, burrito bowl) $7.95; kids' menu, $2.75 to $6.50; sides and add-ons, $1 to $3.95.
Extras: Conveniently located a stone's throw from Southern Oregon University; place orders online or download Milagros' smartphone application for easy ordering.
Serving: From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Info: 1465 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland; 541-708-0190; www.milagrosashland.com.