Nacho Mama's; Mom's Siam 

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Nacho Mama's serves it up without a lot of fire or spice. It offers a fair range of familiar Mexican-American dishes with a twist — including items such as Mama's Mexican pizza appetizer ($5.95) and a trendy, portobello-mushroom wrap ($7.25). The complimentary tortilla chips come accompanied with a very quiet salsa whose puréed ingredients lack zest. The carnitas cubanas — tender chunks of pork marinated in Cuban spices — were served with rice, black beans and a very mild salsa verde. The Cuban-style marinade was indistinct, but the pork was juicy and flavorful. The vegetarian burrito was unimpressive; it seemed to lack flavor and the rice that accompanied it was dry.

The desserts — fried ice cream or a Kahlua flan — seem less inspiring than the impressive selection of margaritas. In fact, Mama's ultimate margarita ($7) with Cuervo 1800 and Grand Marnier, may be the best in Richmond. — Aer Stephens

Nacho Mama's
3449 W. Cary St.
Lunch and dinner served Sunday-Thursday 11

a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

About six months ago, a new Thai restaurant slipped quietly into Carytown and opened shop under a plain, lighted sign that says, simply, "Authentic Thai." The food is consistently fresh, the service unfailingly polite, and the prices reasonable. Ultra-fresh julienne green papaya combined with roasted peanuts, chili peppers and lime juice, create somtum ($4.95), a bright, juicy bugle blast of electrifying flavors that progress from sweet to sour to hot. It's a wake-up call for your mouth and characteristic of Mom's brand of Thai: well-balanced and boldly flavored.

An excellent match for somtum is the more sober pad Thai ($7.95), the national dish of Thailand: thin rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, chicken, ground roasted peanuts, scallions and bean sprouts. Finish with some Thai iced tea ($1.50) and a dessert of fresh, ripe mango and sticky rice ($3.95) and you will have had a very healthy, harmonious, satisfying meal for about $20. — Noel Patrick

Mom's Siam
2929 W. Cary St.
Monday-Thursday: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Dinner 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: Lunch11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.,
Dinner 4:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: Lunch Noon-2 p.m., Dinner 2 p.m.-10 p.m.



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