Monday, November 9, 2009

Midtown Mexican Madness

I seem to be on some kind of “chain binge” of late, which is (a) not like me and (b) helping me discover some great chow.

The most recent example of this would be at the new Ruby Tequila’s in Midtown (there’s another location in the Willowbrook area). This place is huge and it’s jumpin’ - especially for the “Wednesday Madness Menu” including $.99 draft beer, $1.99 margaritas and $11.99 fajitas along with plenty of other menu items discounted every Wednesday. It’s definitely a party with live music and lots of happy people (must be the drink specials!).

You’d almost worry that service would be slow or that your food might take forever but this is not the case. Speaking with the manager who stopped by to check on us, I learned that Ruby's prides itself on a super-quick turnaround even for large parties) which are all freshly prepared in the super-huge kitchen.

Everything is made on premise and this is a good thing, especially when it comes to the fab guacamole made tableside with your choice of ingredients AND your choice of “mash” (chunky, smooth or anywhere in between). That little amenity made me very happy and then I learned about the little squeeze o’ orange they offer up at the end which gives the guac a really nice bright shot of flavor. I was getting really happy! Another appetizer much enjoyed was the Queso Inferno with taco meat – cheesy, spicy, meaty with fresh, hot chips … mmmm.

So far, everything I’ve tried has been excellent (yes, I’ve been more than once now) including the beef fajitas which have big beefy flavor – not overly seasoned or “limey”. Just great quality fresh angus beef with a nice sear along with gorgeous house-made tortillas. I’ve also enjoyed some mains that are more “interior Mexican” style than Tex-Mex like the stellar Tacos de Res – soft corn tortillas stuffed with slow-cooked shredded brisket, served with a side rich, smoky bbq sauce. The Tacos de Comal have either “guajillo” beef tenderloin or chicken on the same soft corn tortillas. The guajillo pepper is rich, smoky and complex but not fiery hot and I appreciate that since sometimes heat can overrule everything else. This works especially well with the tender beef. Note the interesting side-dish option of “chile smashed potatoes” which are creamy, spicy and somehow work really well w/ the mains in spite of what you might think when you first read the words “smashed potatoes” on the menu.

In fact, the menu is huge with combination plates and things you’d expect plus a number of interesting-sounding items on the “grill section” including fish options and some pork chops with an ancho-chili glaze I look forward to trying. I have sampled the “St. Louis-style” pork ribs which were fall-off-the-bone tender and served w/ the spicy bbq sauce. Not exactly what you’d expect at a Mexican food place but why the hell not as long as they’re good and these certainly are delish.

I almost forgot to mention the vast margarita aspect of the menu. I am no connoisseur of margaritas because I really hate being hungover ...but I’m just sayin’ … there are LOTS of options including the “Dos Rita” which is a frozen margarita with an upside down bottle of Dos XX Amber in it. You’ll have to let me know how that one is. Oh and its only $4.99 on Wednesdays :)

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