Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Hurray for Orale!
I'm a big fan of Roberto Rodriguez's cooking. Orale, his prepared Mexican food stand at the West Side Market, is a regular stop. I like to take home his chunky salsas, ceviche, empanadas and cactus salad. I have been known to consume one — okay two — warm, soft enchiladas filled with potato and spinach, chicken mole or black beans and cheese on the spot, as I walk up and down the aisles, or seated on a bench outside.
So I was delighted when the chef decided to open Orale Contemporary Mexican Kitchen in 2011. The small Ohio City restaurant on W. 25th Street, just down the road from the West Side Market, had just 25 seats and it was BYOB. It was a sweet little spot but it had obvious limitations. All that changed in November. After taking over the adjacent storefront and a major remodel, he had twice as much space and a full bar.
I stopped in for lunch recently with my mother and have only raves about the expansion as well as everything we ate. She's generally not a fan of this type of cuisine and has a certain fear of spiciness, but Chef Rodriguez does it differently and she ate until she couldn't eat another bite. We had bowls of tortilla soup, a great version of heuvos rancheros — over easy eggs layered with corn tortillas and queso fresco in a charred tomato sauce — and the stacked enchilada with smoked chicken and caramelized onions. Both came with a side of what the menu calls "mom's rustic mashed potatoes," which were irresistible. We left full and happy.
I haven't been back for cocktails or bar snacks, yet. But I feel his shrimp tamales, tomatillo chicken wings and barbacoa pulled pork pizza, washed down with a margarita or a tequila flight, calling. LikelyI will be there again some night very soon.