Mixtura has the look and feel of a quick meal at your favorite aunt's house. On a recent visit to the tiny Somerville storefront, nestled next to Zoe's Chinese restaurant, two younger boys sat at the marble-topped bar chatting with the only waitress and the chef, who came in and out of the conversation as he cooked.
While the standard brunch fare — with a few Latin options like a Salvadorian omelet and purple corn pancakes — pulls in the most compliments, there are serious and well-executed regional dishes tucked into the menu if you're willing to look.Chicha morada ($2.50), a Peruvian juice, is by far one of the best things here. In color, it looks like a glass of ordinary pomegranate juice, but the first sip yields a hint of cinnamon and something subtly sweet we can't put our finger on. After a quick tableside Google and a confirmation with our waitress, we discovered chicha morada is made by simply boiling purple corn (and you thought those cobs were purely ornamental) with pineapple, then adding cinnamon and a touch of sugar after the liquid has cooled. Mixtura makes theirs in-house, earning points for true South American authenticity. Coconut water can move over, because in addition to being insanely refreshing in this humidity, chicha morada is loaded with health benefits.
On the sandwich front, the Peruanisimo ($6.50) is stuffed with slices of baked pork, sweet potatoes, lettuce, and salsa criolla, a South American spin on salsa comprised of tangy red onion and spices. The pork had just enough give, and the sweet potato is perfectly caramelized without being chewy. The steak Andino ($14) was a little overcooked, but the accompanying quinoa was soft, not mushy, and packed big flavor.
Speaking of quinoa, the "Quinua" ($8) salad showcased the ultimate fluffy preparation of the grain-like seeds: lightly flavored with broth, not too salty, with a perfect airy texture. While we health freaks here in the US think quinoa is hot shit, it's relatively standard in Latin cuisine, and their interpretations naturally shine.
To top it off, alfajores ($6) — simple Peruvian shortbread cookie sandwiches with a thick caramel filling — come 10 to an order and are a light, unobtrusive finish to the meal. We got powdered sugar all over our faces and were covered in crumbs by the end, but that only made them that much better.
Mixtura, located at 300 Beacon St, Somerville, is open Monday–Saturday, 11 am–9 pm, and Sunday, 3–9 pm. For more information, call 617.868.0505 or visit mixturasomerville.com. Delivery available to certain neighborhoods.