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Oaxaca authentic? Hmmmm

The true cuisine of Oaxaca is about slow cooking.  The cuisine is about full flavor through long slow braises and the use of good moles rich in spices and hints of chocolate.

Ruben’s Mexican Cafe in Peekskill touts itself as authentic Oaxacan cuisine – – I don’t really see it or taste it.  Once inside the door we are hit with lots of swag from vendors such as Modelo beer and Corona – – I guess this is how one can decorate “on the cheap.”  To further enhance, there are paper streamers and sombreros here and there hanging off the walls. Think a 1970’s Los Angeles barrio.

On one particular visit, the restaurant was not busy.  Wait staff were busy chatting among themselves and not giving much attention to the few diners who were there.  Tables that had been abandoned by previous customers remained uncleared with red plastic soda cups and straws, partially eaten dishes, etc.

Getting a menu required a request.

Mostly the food is standard Mexican restaurant fare. Guacamole, the comp’d chips and salsa (lacking seasoning) and tacos.  Combination plates are available but do not stand above any other restaurant in the area. A large selection of chicken dishes (yes, one with mole!) are available.

Camerones a la Diosa

Camerones a la Diosa

Camerones (shrimp) a la Diosa (goddess) is a dish of shrimp and sauteed onions accompanied by rice and black beans.  Just ok.  Once eaten, easy to forget. Note the dusting of Sazon by Goya on the plate.  A processed spice, there is no added benefit here.

One sizzling hot rock!

One sizzling hot rock!

The most interesting dish is the Molcajetes Calientes.  A molcajete (pronounced Mohl-kuh-heh-tay) is a lava rock vessel usually used to grind fresh spices in the kitchen.  In this case, Ruben’s fires it to amazingly sizzling temperatures and is filled with chicken or shrimp and topped with bubbling cheese and served with rice on the side.  Careful, this is one oven hot mama!

Prices at Ruben’s are inexpensive. Appetizers range from $4.95 to $8.95 (ceviche… not recommended… flavors lack brightness and the authentic citrus component… almost sweet in nature).

Ceviche - - sort of....

Ceviche - - sort of....

Main courses span from $6.25 to $15.95.  This is not a wallet breaker.

Drinks go from $7 for a standard margarita to $10 for the upgrade to Patron or Don Julio. Stay away from these belly bombers made from acid inducing sour mix.  Upon request that the margarita be made with fresh lime juice instead was disastrous.  The mix was utilized and a squeeze of a lime wedge was added.

This is flan?

This is flan?

Desserts look interesting but do not deliver either.  For example, the idea of a creamy soft jiggly flan with a dulce de leche sauce was delivered with a drizzle of chocolate (which was really marketed for the tiramisu) and whipped cream straight out of the can.  It had the texture of a ricotta cheesecake. At least I knew the flan was made with real eggs as I had to pull small pieces of eggshell out of my mouth.

The neighborhood really is coming together and this place could benefit from chef Ruben Alvarez paying more attention to preparing the true food of Oaxaca.  Come on guys, what would Mexican cooking authority Diana Kennedy have to say?

Ruben’s Mexican Cafe

5 North Division Street

Peekskill, NY 10566

914-739-4330

www.rubensmexican.com

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