Though the menu at Cocina Central, one of the latest additions to Mountain View’s growing culinary scene, boasts a healthy farm-to-table take on Latin cuisine, it still allows for some decadence.

Take the Three Piggies Tacos ($12), a shamelessly indulgent blend of carnitas, bacon and fried-to-a-crisp chicharron heaped with cheese, avocado sauce and pico de gallo on coaster-sized circles of supple corn tortillas—deep orange from the guajillo chili-infused masa. One order comes with a few deceptively small tacos, so rich that it’s probably best to share, alongside black beans, brown rice and crumbled cotija cheese—all gluten free, for whatever that’s worth.

For the most part, however, the menu leans on the light side, reflecting the health-conscious sensibilities of its owner, chef Isabel Cruz. “I’ve always tried to create menus that have a balance,” says Cruz, who runs six restaurants across California and Oregon. “If you want to eat healthy, low calorie or gluten free, we can adjust. Or, if you don’t care about all that and want to have the Three Piggies tacos, you can enjoy that, too.”

The San Diego-based author of Isabel’s Cantina (2007, Random House) showcases her signature blend of Latin comfort food—Puerto Rican, Cuban and Mexican—in her inaugural Silicon Valley venture. The food tastes less traditionally Mexican and more tropical, perhaps because of Cruz’s penchant for fusion cuisine.

The Chili Relleno ($15)—a generous platter of roasted poblano, cheese, brown rice, red salsa, cilantro, lime and charred cubes of roasted chicken—was flavorful, but lacked heat. As did the salsa served with the chili-dusted tortilla chips ($7, with free refills).

The menu is easy to navigate for people with dietary restrictions. A cucumber-radish salad ($4) seasoned with chipotle, cumin and lime complement some of the heavier entrees, like the shrimp-cheese-black beans-chipotle mayo-packed Diablo Burrito ($12). Same with the vegan cauliflower soup ($4 for a cup), a fragrant veggie puree, or the jalapeno-buttered Mexican grilled corn ($4).

For carnivores there are richer entrees, like the crema-dolloped Carnitas Platter ($17), the Whole Cocina burrito bowl ($14) or the corn-and-queso sopes ($14 for three). The breakfast menu is a work in progress, Cruz says, but its current iteration includes Mexican scrambles and fried-egg tortas ($9.50 to $12.50).

Cruz says she’s especially proud of the cocktails, which her bartender, Adrian Luna, mixes with fresh-squeezed juices and house-made syrups. Several—like the Super Linda Favorita ($10), a jewel-toned blend of muddled blackberries, agave azucar and jalapeno-infused tequila—come in vibrant hues that reflect the decor. Cocina Central opened in November but its official launch arrives Cinco de Mayo, with live music and all-day drink specials.

Cocina Central
2590 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View
Open from 8am-10pm Sunday through Thursday, 8am-11pm Friday and Saturday. Phone: 650.397.5996.