Lunch (and an excellent one) at Masa in the South End

Just one of the dessert options with Masa's $7.95 three-course lunch special.

As a change of pace from my standard weekday routine as part of WGBH’s Membership team, last week I paid a visit to Masa, chef-owner Philip Aviles’ South End restaurant. The restaurant’s interior (unlike the dreary Boston weather we slogged through) is warm and inviting; the walls are embellished with wrought-iron tracery featuring chocolate tile centers and mirrors, connoting a feeling of airiness. Tucked in the corners are terracotta jugs filled with daffodils, giving the room a touch of spring.

It was a working lunch, but I indulged and ordered a margarita, with just the right amount of bite. The meal itself overflowed with Southwestern flavors, representative of a menu that offers refreshing twists on traditional Latin favorites.

I started with a bowl of butternut squash chowder topped with crispy lardons, smoked Gouda, chile poblano, and tortilla strips. Then on to the achiote-marinated fish tacos dressed with the relatively mild earthy spiciness of chipotle tartar sauce and the crunch of pickled onions.  But the corn tortillas were the surprise. It was the first time I had eaten freshly made tortillas, and this was the perfect venue – masa means tortilla dough in Spanish — though I’ll never be able to enjoy those hard shells in quite the same way.

I ended the savory portion of lunch with a salad of field greens with prickly pear passion fruit vinaigrette, Spanish cabrales, jicama, and chile walnuts, a mix packed with amazing flavors and textures.

I ended with Masa’s signature chocolate tamale, and our server suggested the key lime pie for complementary flavors. Both desserts had layers of complex richness, co-existing without competing — the perfect ending to my midday feast.

Masa brings an inventive style to Mexican cuisine. Chef Aviles’ inspired menu is chock full of authentic Mexican and Spanish ingredients and prepares them in earthy and elegant ways.

Germaine Frechette is the guest author for today’s Foodie Blog and part of the WGBH Membership team. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, where we explore myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.


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