Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Even more Rubio's!

As you may have realized by now, I have a thing for Rubio's, ever since I discovered it on my first visit when I was inspired by a free birthday taco coupon.  Seriously, the most successful freebie ever!

I've really enjoyed everything I have had there, and the quality for the price point just can't be beat.  It is completely amusing to me that I have gotten so into Rubio's, given that I first visited at a time when I was eating at high end restaurants about 5 nights a week!  I am so glad I have found this place, and will continue to return many more times.  I still have a number of menu items I can't wait to try out!

Since I've reviewed the restaurant so many times at this point, I'll skip the basics and just focus on the new taco I tried this time.  And since I've reviewed it so many times, I'm going to go ahead and give it the status that only one other restaurant on my blog has ... its own label (I hope Alexander's isn't offended by this!).

This time, I visited on a Tuesday evening, which is when they have their special Taco Tuesdays, and offer their signature fish taco for only $1.50.  I think the value is already amazing, and the $1.50 taco is just mind blowing to me.  Anyway, presumably due to Taco Tuesday, the restaurant was much busier this time, with almost every table occupied.  On previous visits my food was brought to me at my table, but this time they used the pagers, and I had to pick it up at the counter when it was ready.  Otherwise, service was about the same, and my taco was ready just about as soon as I had filled up my little salsa containers, gotten utensils, and settled into a seat.  Fast food, but clearly being freshly prepared.
Mango Habanero Pacific Mahi Mahi Taco.  $3.99.
This time, I decided to try out the mahi mahi, one of the only seafood choices I hadn't yet explored.  It was offered in three forms; like the salmon or tilapia you could have it grilled or blackened, but they also had a special mango habanero version.  The later seemed the most interesting, as the blackened version was basically the same as the blackened tilapia I had on my last visit, albeit with a slightly different fish

The menu describes it as "Pacific mahi mahi seasoned in olive oil and garlic then grilled on an authentic comal and topped with mango pineapple salsa, a smoky red chile sauce made with guajillo, ancho and red jalapeƱo chiles, along with crema and serrano cabbage slaw. Served on a warm flour tortilla and garnished with a slice of lime."

I'd seen most of these components before, in different combinations in my previous visits.

The flour tortilla was again warm and soft, but it was a little bit mushy and gummy.  I didn't care for it this time, but I'd really enjoyed it on my previous visits.

When the taco arrived, I smelt a fishy aroma.  I was immediately concerned, and my seafood snob radar went off.  But, the moment I tasted it, my fears went away.  It wasn't fishy at all.  The mahi was a generous sized piece.  It was cooked nicely, resulting in a firm but still soft texture.  The filet seemed thicker on this than the tilapia, and the fish was a little bit more "meaty".  I liked it more than the tilapia.  It was well seasoned.

The serrano cabbage slaw I'd seen on my tilapia taco as well, and it was again fantastic.  Fresh, crispy, with some zing to it.  Best filler I've seen in any tacos thus far.

But what really made this taco was the mango pineapple salsa.  Like everything else Rubio's serves, it seemed fresh.  The mango and pineapple were ripe, sweet, delicious.  Cut into the perfect size pieces so that they were full of flavor, but not overwhelming.  The red chili sauce added some serious heat to it, just enough that I really felt like I was eating Mexican food, but the sweetness of the fruit salsa and the creaminess of the crema balanced it out nicely.  A bit of heat when you took a bite, but it never lingered.

The lime garnish was a nice touch, to add a little more zing to the taco, although they have limes (and lemons) in the salsa bar, so it is easy to enhance any taco this way.

Everything in this taco just came together perfectly.  Like the other tacos I've really enjoyed at Rubio's, the salsas and sauces made all the difference, just amping things up a lot.  I think this may have been my favorite taco so far, but I can still dream of a better one: everything from this one - the mango pineapple salsa, the sauces, the serrano slaw, but with shrimp instead of the mahi.  I wonder if I could order it?  "I'll have the Mango Habenero Mahi Mahi Taco, with uh, shrimp instead of mahi" ...

This was one of their most expensive tacos, at a whopping $3.99.  It was well worth the price, and I am still somewhat shocked at how cheap it is, given the quality of the ingredients.  A large piece of fish and ripe fresh fruit?  I don't understand.  I'm so glad I found this place!
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