Milagro Modern Mexican, brought to you by the folks behind Tortillaria in the CWE and Barrister's in Clayton, is a decidedly different Mexican culinary experience, which we were lucky enough to enjoy again recently.

First, the space: a modest storefront tucked into a mixed use development near Straub's in Webster Groves. While the exterior is fairly non-descript, the interior is another matter. No south-of-the-border schtick here, just a warm, inviting atmosphere with rough resourced wood planks on the walls and intricate metal cutouts suspended from the ceiling, all courtesy of Space Architecture & Design.

Then there's the food and drink. The cocktail list boasted a Top Shelf Margarita ($10) that not only featured a choice of four premium reposado tequilas, but was made the right way, with fresh lime juice and Cointreau. No pre-fab mixes or blenders here.

The Street Corn ($4) at Milagro has gotten a lot of press, and for good reason. Patterned after a Mexican street food, it was the epitome of simple deliciousness, consisting basically of sweet, tender roasted corn taken off the cob and mixed with some queso fresco. It now has a secure spot in our pantheon of favorite sides.

The Tuna Ceviche ($10) from the For The Table section of shareable dishes, was based around a piece of ahi tuna that would make any sushi chef proud, marinated with lime juice and seasoned with some cilantro and topped with strips of jicama, with a petite stack of blue corn chips on the side. It had some bite but wasn't overly acidic, and presentation-wise, it rivaled most anything you'd see being served up at any white-tablecloth place.

The massive Barbacoa Beef Burrito ($10) consisted of a huge flour tortilla filled with braised beef, black beans, rice, cheese and pico de gallo, topped with a suiza sauce. Again, simplicity and subtlety reigned in this dish. There was spice, but just enough to bring the other ingredients into harmony with each other, unlike so many ‘Mexican’ places around town where excessive heat is substituted for real flavor.

Fish tacos are one of our critical barometers for quality Mexican restaurants, and the Baja Fish Tacos ($12) at Milagro were definitely in the upper tier of the ones we've sampled around town. The dish came with three tacos--homemade corn tortillas filled with tilapia (grilled in our case, though fried also is an option) and topped with chipotle aioli, cabbage, pico de gallo and cheese. The aioli provided some subtle smokiness and the cabbage made for a nice crunchy contrast to the flaky fish.

Although we vowed to just taste a bit of the Tres Leches Cupcake ($5) and take the rest home, the moist yellow cake soaked in three types of milk (hence the name) topped with raspberry sauce and whipped cream didn't last long once we laid into it.

Want to enjoy authentic, affordable Mexican fare in a comfortable space and actually find a place to park? Milagro is the place to go.

Milagro Modern Mexican, 20 Allen Ave., Suite 130, 962-4300,

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