Yesterday I was invited to a luncheon hosted for local food bloggers by Ralph Rubio, Chairman and Co-founder of Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill.Â We were treated toÂ several courses of delicious offerings after a tour through the kitchen of their WestÂ Jordan locationÂ and a brief history of Ralph’s inspiration for theÂ Rubio’s success story. During his college Spring breaks Ralph enjoyed the fresh flavours of the fish tacos and other beach style Mexican food found in San Felipe in Baja California,Â Mexico.In 1983 he wanted to share his love ofÂ this food with a larger audience so he and his father, Ray,Â founded the first Rubio’s in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, California. As of this writing Rubio’s has just opened their 200th restaurant. They have locations in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado.
What were my impressions? :
First of all the kitchen was nice and clean and well organized- a definite plus for anywhere I am going to eatÂ willingly. 🙂
We saw them making guacamole with lots of Haas avocados and relatively few other ingredients. Nothing prepackaged or frozen which gets them another A+ from me. I can’t stand getting guac that is mock.Â
They were char-grilling shrimp, meats and peppers in an appetizing manner- my mouth started to water at that point. TheyÂ cook rice and beans freshly throught the day and the beans are not refried in lard but combined with garlic and pepper to make a refried texture that is very much more healthy for you. I like the black beans best though- very flavourful and served with a dusting of Cotija cheese- mmm good!
We began our samplingÂ with an assortment of salsas that are available in Rubio’s salsa bar to add to yourÂ food as you choose. These included a “fresca salsa” with a nice bright flavour, a “roasted chipotle salsa” that hadÂ some lovely smoky notes, a zestier “salsa picante”Â and a tangy freshÂ “salsa verde” tomatillo styleÂ salsa.Â They were served with their fresh tortilla chips and some of that really freshly made guacamole that I mentioned above.
This was followed by the Â Rubio’s “World Famous Fish Taco”, crispy breaded mild white Alaskan Pollock with cabbage and a crema style tangy white sauce and mild salsa on a corn tortilla. Nice, crisp breading with good flavour and textural interest with the crunch of the cabbage and creaminess of the sauce. I didn’t get a picture of it as I was too busy sampling and then I remembered (duh!) I had my Coolpix in my purse.
Next we were presented with two Grilled Gourmet Tacos- one of Garlic Herb Shrimp and one of Grilled Steak. These are pure genius! The best tacos I have ever had- and that’s saying something. Of course it has to do with theÂ three kinds ofÂ Â cheese toasted on the inside of the corn tortilla, sprinkled with bacon and then topped with freshly grilled meats, Habanero Citrus Salsa , cilantro/onion, Cotija Cheese, Creamy Chipotle Picante Sauce and sliced avocado. OMG! I am going back for these- definitely!
Next we were served half of a “Big Burrito Especial” with chicken. This was a huge burrito served enchilada style with grilled chicken, guacamole, black beans, rice, sour cream, salsa fresca and creamy chipotle sauce all wrapped in a flour tortilla and smothered in sauce- we were commenting about how much food it was for the price and how delicious it all was- not what you usually get in a quick service setting at all.
Then a Carnitas “Rajas Burrito” in a whole wheat tortillaÂ with aÂ side of black beans came out.Â Inside were Carnitas, grilled peppers and onions, cheddar and jack and mozzarella cheeses, black beans, rice, sour cream, cilantro/onion and chimichurri sauce.Â Another winner- this was Rick’s favourite when I carried home what I couldn’t eat. I loved the flavours here too- nice and complex with the roasted vegetables and others components playing nicely together.
Whew we still have two courses to go? Wow!
Out came a Balsamic and Roasted Veggie Salad with Grilled Chicken that is a fabulous combination of field greens, romaine, grilled corn and peppers and onions, topped with grilled chicken and sliced avocado and tossed with a tasty Balsamic dressing.Â This was a huge salad for a very reasonable price off of the menu and a very healthy total of 340 calories. (Check all the nutrition info here!). Â Â Â I can see eating this one often- it’s a “clean eating” salad of the kind I prefer.
For the final course we were served three “Street Tacos” – one each of Carnitas, Grilled Chicken and Grilled Steak served with a side or their “No-Fried” Pinto Beans.Â These were very delicious and aÂ good value like the ones served from the street vendors on the corner- snack sized but with fresh guacamole and onion cilantro topping. They were a goodÂ chance to add salsas from the salsa bar and mix and match flavours. I like getting this kind ofÂ wonderful andÂ inexpensive small tacos in a place that has good sanitation rather than on the street corner. This is a great alternative for me.
I was very pleased to see that they offer some Health-Mex(tm)Â selections that are lower in fat and calories and offered with whole grain tortillas. Sometimes it is hard to find places that are easy to “eat clean” whilst dining out. I would happily eat many of their offerings on a regular basis and not feel one iota of guilt. I would also happily indulge in a shrimp gourmet taco as a treat to my tastebuds now and then. So my final recommendation to you is go for it check out one of the Rubio’s near you and enjoy some fast, fresh and fabulous food that is reasonably priced and delicious!
And many thanks to Ralph and the folks at the West Jordan Rubio’sÂ and Crowell Advertising, Marketing and P.R. for inviting me and for your hospitality and the chance to sampleÂ such tasty fare. For the sake of full disclosure I must add that Ralph sent us home with all the leftovers we could carry and $30.00 in gift cards to enjoy a future visit on him. It didn’t sway my opinion in any way but it was very gracious indeed and much appreciated.
Note: All of the above photos are just what I snapped with my little camera in the restaurant- so this is not retouched food stylings at all- you can see how appetizing the offerings are as they are actually served.