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Nuevo: Caracara Mexican Grill in Farmingdale

A chicken tamale is served at Caracara Mexican

A chicken tamale is served at Caracara Mexican Grill in Farmingdale. (2011) Credit: Newsday / Joan Reminick

The Farmingdale dining scene grows more exciting by the day. Newest entrant: Caracara Mexican Grill, which takes over the former home of Terry G’s.

Chef Richard Caruso has some impressive credentials, having cooked at Pelea Mexicana, Hill Country Barbecue and Rosa Mexicano in Manhattan. Here in Farmingdale, his menu balances the authentic with the crowd-pleasing.

He managed to please both me and my finicky lunch companion with a chicken tamale ($9) full of flavorful surprises: The sweet burst of fresh corn kernels against mellow masa and shredded poultry. A rich, nuanced mole sauce packing sneaky heat.

A Mexican Cobb salad ($13) was, for the most part, a hit: romaine lettuce topped with moist grilled chicken, bacon, avocado, eggs, tomato, Maytag blue cheese and – so odd – apples. At least the menu said they were apples. Actually, they were pears. Whichever, the fruity sweetness was out of place. But the chipotle lime vinaigrette was just fine.

So, too, was a quartet of soft corn tacos ($17) – chicken, steak, shrimp and fish – everything bright and bona fide.

The decor here has a rather heavy medieval look. But wrought-iron wall hangings, while not quite my taste, won’t stop me from returning really soon.

Caracara Mexican Grill is at 354 Main St., Farmingdale; 516-777-2272

Above, a chicken tamale at Caracara Mexican Grill in Farmingdale

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