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NYC

Review

Dane Isaac

Ruta Oaxaca

$$$$
Mexican  in  Astoria
Dane Isaac

We’d all be happier if we applied this Mexican restaurant’s maximalist approach to our own lives. Why serve a habañero mango cocktail without adding a torched sprig of rosemary first? Why paint a patio pastel pink when a shade called “hot pink” exists? If there’s a vat of earthy mole negro in the kitchen, why not pour a pint of it onto a plate with chicken enchiladas?

The portions of Oaxacan specialties at this Astoria spot are massive, and the mole and tequila flow like tap water. This is a fun restaurant, and it’s especially appropriate for a group of friends or a date who’s interested in splitting a skillet of gooey queso Chihuahua with a pile of chorizo on top.

If you need another reason to make this Oaxacan spot a priority, know that Ruta offers a 2-for-1 cocktail special during brunch service on weekends when all tables are first come, first served until 4pm. Restaurants like this one disprove that whole “less is more” concept, so the next time you want to eat in the dining-room equivalent of the Energizer Bunny, spend a couple of hours at this colorful corner spot in Queens.

Food Rundown

Chori Queso

It’s not a big surprise that a bowl of melted cheese topped with chorizo is good. But the warm corn tortillas that come on the side are a big part of what makes this dish worth ordering. So if you’re here with a group, kick things off by making your own gooey choriqueso tacos—they’ll pair well with all of the smoky-sweet cocktails here.

Ceviche

With its notably spicy and acidic marinade, this ceviche is a very refreshing way to get your meal started. It’s got some tender squid and plump shrimp, and it tastes like summer inside of a bowl of lime juice. There are also several slices of perfectly symmetrical avocado that add a creamy texture to the whole dish when mixed together.

Ruta Oaxaca
Cochinita Taco

If you’re looking to witness the loving bond between juicy, smoky meat and fresh corn tortilla, these are the tacos you should order Each comes topped with pickled onions, cilantro, and avocado salsa verde, and there’s something about the fresh tortillas that makes us feel like we picked these up on the street in Oaxaca City.

Dane Isaac
Enchilada Mole

Ruta’s rich mole-covered enchiladas will make you feel like you’ve fallen into the chocolate river on the set of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The flavor of the mole is luxuriously sweet, and the chicken tastes like it’s been lounging in a pot of flavor for weeks. Out of all of the mole dishes on the menu here, this is the most essential order.

Ruta Oaxaca
Short Ribs

Massive, smothered, and fall-off-the-bone tender, these short ribs are our absolute favorite dish on the menu. The mole coloradito on top is nice and thick, and you can taste hints of cinnamon and allspice in every bite. There’s also a simple eggplant puree and a couple of fried potato balls served on the side, which help break up all of the richness.

Ruta Oaxaca
Chicken Pechuga

While this roasted chicken breast itself is mostly average (i.e., a roasted chicken breast), the pool of mole verde it comes in absolutely blew us away. It’s got a punch of herbaceous flavor, with some slightly sweet and spicy tension in the background. This is a safe option to keep in mind for that person who always gets some iteration of chicken, but be sure to ask for a side of corn tortillas to soak up all of the extra mole.

Dane Isaac
Drinks

Everything from the mezcal flights to the habanero mango cocktails are worth your time and attention—especially if you’re having dinner on the bright pink patio, where you’ll want to make your meal a party.

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