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Casa del Sol

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During the summer, the $2 tacos at Casa del Sol were my mainstay. An excellent fish taco made a perfect bargain of a pre-concert bite with the Knitting Factory right across the back alley. But without a shot of tequila to wash them down, there was always something missing.

Fortunately, things have changed. After a year-and-a-half in business, Casa del Sol recently obtained a liquor license, and now has a full bar with a wide assortment of booze, from tequila to Kahlua.

More in the mood to satisfy hunger than quench thirst, the economist in me was pleased to discover that every item on the lunch menu was less than $7. Meanwhile, the omnivore in me appreciated that nearly all the entrees had a vegetarian counterpart on a separate menu.

The Deluxe Taco Salad ($6.99) proved a perfect lesson in dietary paradox. Fistfuls of shredded iceberg took cover beneath a confetti of diced tomatoes, sliced olives, guacamole, cheddar and chicken. A giant flour tortilla had been fried to a crisp and shaped to create a bowl for the salad, negating whatever imagined virtue a "salad entree" might imply. Still, it was warm and crunchy, without so much as a hint of greasy shine. If I hadn't been scarfing away with such gusto, I might have thought to ask for a side of house made salsa. Though the chicken was moist and flavorful, a little firey spice would have added depth and uniqueness to the dish.

My husband's chiles rellenos ($6.99) vanished almost before I had a chance to steal a few bites. But those bites explained his rush. Two egg-battered-and-fried green peppers oozed melted cheese, seasoned ground beef, melted cheese and more melted cheese. Did I mention the gooey, luscious melted cheese? Casa del Sol's special sauce was drizzled across the top, cutting the cheesy dominance with its smoky heat. Ubiquitous Mexican sides of rice and refried beans formed a levee along the river of melted cheese and balanced the plate.

I could have lingered all afternoon in the cozy space, soaking up pretend warmth from the half-dozen artistic renditions of the sun that clung to the brick walls of the low-ceilinged interior. With two flatscreens for prime TV watching and a double-sided stainless steel bar, there was no shortage of entertainment. Happy hour, which promised 50-cent discounts on all drinks, would begin at 4 p.m., and a lonely microphone on a stand made me wonder if there might be live music later. Besides, the place wasn't busy, and the hard-working owner, who has been my server every time I have visited Casa del Sol, was a good conversationalist. It's comforting to know I'll have a south-of-the-border getaway all winter long.

--Sarah Barber's love of the sun makes her a terrible candidate to be a vampire.

Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Casa del Sol.

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