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$29 & Under: No Raul? No problem, because Mexican Grill is superb

$29 & Under: No Raul? No problem, because Mexican Grill is superb

We wanted lunch and because the sun was shining and there wasn’t a hint of rain in the sky I thought

We wanted lunch and because the sun was shining and there wasn’t a hint of rain in the sky I thought eating outdoors might be fun, though I remained wary. I mean when’s the last day you can remember when it didn’t rain at all?

Raul’s Mexican Grill

WHERE: 162 Glen St., Glens Falls. Phone 761-1180.

HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays; 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fridays; 1 to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays.

HOW MUCH: $26.22

MORE INFO: Handicapped-accessible. No children’s menu. Cash or local checks.

A colleague had recommended Raul’s Mexican Grill, which is on the traffic circle in the heart of downtown Glens Falls, and so we stopped in to see if we agreed.

We ended up taking the food with us rather than eating at the tables outside because I don’t trust the weather anymore.

There is no Raul, by the way, or at least not at this eatery, which was opened last fall by Russell Porrecca. But, the lack of Raul notwithstanding, the food was first-rate, from the achiote grilled chicken quesadilla ($5) we picked up for the youngest member of our party to the pibil barbecue pork tacos ($8) that I had or my guest’s vegetarian portobello burrito ($8.50).

What I particularly enjoyed about Raul’s dishes was the freshness of the ingredients. Everything seemed not too long off the vine, crunchy and tasting like homegrown, which is always a pleasant discovery.

Something to satisfy you

The menu is not extensive, but you’ll find something to tempt you. The burritos, which are of respectable size and well-stuffed, and the tacos, which are available in soft or hard shell, can be turned into a meal by adding rice and beans and a side salad for $4, and that’s what we did.

The pibil barbecued pork tacos were a treat. (“Pibil,” by the way, is a reference to the traditional Yucatan dish “cochinita pibil” or “puerco pibil,” in which the pork is marinated in citrus juice and wrapped in banana leaves before roasting.) In Raul’s take, the chunks of pork loin are marinated with Seville oranges and Mexican oregano and then grilled to give them a crispy exterior and topped with the restaurant’s own pibil barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese caramelized onions, lettuce and tomato. There were three generous tacos on the plate, along with the rice and beans, which were well spiced and flavorful. The fresh garden salad was a mixture of greens flavored with a lovely citrus dressing that made us want more.

The portobello burrito my lunch mate ordered was overstuffed with fresh, grilled veggies including the portobello mushrooms of the name, zucchini, onions and peppers and cheddar cheese. It was served with mole poblano sauce to be poured over the burrito, or dipped into or both. As vegetarian dishes go, this was a satisfying one.

There are many other vegetarian dishes on Raul’s menu, including one that’s called “The Black Goat” ($7.50) consisting of tacos with black beans, cheddar cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, lettuce and onion and topped with guacamole and goat cheese. There are fish tacos ($9) featuring marinated and grilled fish of the day with lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, lime and cilantro and Spanish chorizo tacos ($9) made with chorizo imported from Pamplona, with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and lettuce.

Besides the pork tacos mentioned, there are also beef tacos ($6.50), which are filled with seasoned chopped brisket with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and lettuce and tomato, and chicken tacos ($6.50), which are filled with achiote (annatto) grilled chicken with lettuce, red onion and tomatoes.

Raul’s was doing a brisk business the day we dropped by, obviously quickly becoming a favorite spot with the downtown bunch. They offer a variety of potables besides soft drinks, including Mexican beers and Spanish, Chilean and Argentine wines.

For two lunches, including tax, our tab was $26.22.

NAPKIN NOTES

“Pibil” dishes, which are traditional in Mexico’s Yucatan region, are cooked in a “pib,” a pit that is dug in the earth and lined with hot coals. Meats are marinated and sometimes they are dyed red/yellow with seeds from the annatto tree, also known as the “lipstick tree,” and then are wrapped in banana leaves and placed in the pit. The pit is sealed up with a lid that is covered over with earth. The result is a succulent meat with juices and intense flavors intact. For those disinclined to cook in a hole in the backyard, there are stovetop versions that you can find.

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