Señor Sam's Mexican Grill

Cuisine and scene: Fifteen years since this chain changed the local model for Mexican food, Ashland's outlet remains a favorite, particularly of students and families. Cafeteria-style service has healthy choices with drive-through speed but the comfort of more expensive, sit-down eateries. Orders are prepared while patrons watch, allowing for mixing and matching Latin staples — rice, beans and tortillas — with five meats to create customized burritos, tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas. A condiment table features fresh-made salsas, from mild to hot.

Recommended: Anything with customers' favorite, chopped and grilled chicken, particularly atop super nachos, also piled with cheese, beans, guacamole, sour cream and salsa; the garden quesadilla with jack and cheddar cheeses, green, red and gold bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and condiments on the side; all-meat burrito featuring two types of protein with cheese.

Alternative diets: Seasoned tofu option for most dishes; almost half the menu vegetarian; salad a standard side dish; small plates with reduced side-dish portions.

Beverages: Juices, milk, sodas and iced tea; coffee and hot tea; imported and domestic bottled beers; hard lemonade; California wines by the glass.

Price range: Plates, $6.49 to $8.99; specialties with chips; $3.99 to $8.99; vegetarian specials with chips, $3.79 to $8.29; smaller plates; $4.49 to $6.29; sides, 29 cents to $2.99.

Extras: Kids' menu for ages 8 and younger; senior discounts; some items take longer to cook; add 15 cents for small to-go box, 25 cents for large; 12-ounce containers of salsa available to take home; parking in large lot of Ashland Street Cinema complex.

Serving: From 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, until 8 p.m. Sunday.

Info: 1634 Ashland St., Ashland; 541-488-1262.

— Sarah Lemon

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