Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Old Favorite, Rubio's

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill
23981 Alicia Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

In Southern California it is almost a requirement to love fish tacos. Much like having a tan in February, enjoying high speed chases on the news, and seeing celebrities at your local Starbucks, fish tacos are a way of life in Southern California. Tons of fish tacos dot menus from the Mexican border to points far north. Fish tacos can be found in restaurants that are hole in the walls, all the way up to some of the highest end places to grab a bite to eat. A quick Yelp search of fish tacos around my city yielded over 90 matches. Wow, I guess I have some eating to do if I want to hit them all.

One fish taco place that I am very familiar with is Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill. I was thrilled when they invited us in to have dinner. We maybe have Rubio's at least once a month. That might not seem like a lot, but writing this blog, we very rarely go to the same restaurant twice. This location of Rubio's is right by the house, so it always convenient to grab food on the way home from work or when we are out running errands.

Rubio's was one of the innovators that brought the fish taco to the masses. Started in 1983, Ralph Rubio, along with his father, Ray, opened a walk up stand in the Mission Bay area of San Diego. The story goes that while Ralph was in college, he would make frequent trips down to the beach areas of Mexico, and fell in love with the fish taco. After college he opened up his first fish taco restaurant, and it became so popular, that Rubio's expanded to three stores rather quickly. Today there are close to 200 locations, scattered across five western states.

We got to Rubio's Mission Viejo location at about 6PM on a cold winter night, (okay not that cold, but cold for California). The story of Rubio's was plastered on one wall, along with signs indicating how far Mexican beach cities were away from us. Just looking at the sign made us long for warmer weather. After ordering at the counter, we made our way to the salsa bar. They had four salsas available the night we were here. Tomatillo, Mild Salsa, Roasted Chipotle, and my favorite, the spicy Picante. No matter what salsa you choose, it will have a pop of flavor to it. I like the Picante because it adds a good amount of heat, but you can still taste the food. It wakes up your taste buds, so you can enjoy your meal. Speaking of which, our food was brought to our table, and it was time to dig in.

Reliable Katie usually gets the same thing every time we come to Rubio's, the Two Taco Fish Plate. She does change up the kinds of tacos she gets though. On this night she was feeling an Original Fish Taco and an Avocado Corn Fish Taco. She really likes that you can get two different tacos here, with two different tastes. The original fish taco is a classic. It comes with a white sauce, mild salsa, and cabbage, wrapped around a corn tortilla. The beer battered Alaskan Pollock is fried perfectly. Crisp on the outside, and flaky inside. It is hard to improve on the original fish taco, but Katie seemed to like the Avocado Corn Taco even better. This taco came with the same beer battered fish, but added a creamy chipotle sauce, cilantro, cotija cheese, a fresh avocado wedge, and a corn based salsa. Katie liked the freshness of the taco fillings here, and the tomatillo salsa from the salsa bar really pushed the flavor quotient up in her opinion. She was also impressed by he portion size of this dinner. It really filled her up.

During our visit it was Langostino lobster season at Rubio's. Who could pass this up? Not me for sure. I took full advantage of this limited time offering, by getting both a Langostino Lobster Taco and a Langostino Lobster Burrito. Both were very good. The taco of course could have had more wild-caught langostino lobster in it for my taste, but they could probably put six pounds of the langostino in there for me, and it would not be enough. The langostino lobster that was in there was very rich, and went well with the creamy chipotle sauce, the handmade guacamole, salsa fresca, and the red and green cabbage. The tortilla was a little on the rubbery side, but did its job of holding the ingredients of the taco together. I devoured this rather quickly. The burrito was filled with the same fillings as the taco, but with rice and pinto beans added. I thought there was too much rice in this burrito, but the sweet, rich langostino shined through it. This good sized burrito did a great job of quenching my hunger.

Rubio's really heated us up on this cold winter night. We left feeling very full and satisfied with our meals. It is visits like these, why Rubio's has made it into our rotation of restaurants that we frequent. We have never had anything but a favorable experience here, and the food always hits the spot. The menu always features a rotating selection of specials, termed "featured catches." This helps make every visit to Rubio's very unique. Of course the regular menu is always available, if you are averse to change like Katie. The service, as usual was great on this night. We were greeted warmly, and the food came out very promptly. Another night when Rubio's really hits the spot.

We would like to thank everyone at Rubio's for the opportunity to come in and try their food. We really enjoyed it. We would also like to thank Danielle Solich for getting in touch with us, and providing us with this wonderful chance to write about Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill.

For more information about Rubio's, or to find a location near you, click here for their web site:

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