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Issue Date: January 2012

Flavor Fave

Jim Vickers
Orale! Kitchen // Salsa and chips are every Mexican restaurant's opening act, but it's rare when they surprise you. Roberto Rodriguez, a longtime West Side Market vendor and chef, uses the opportunity to show off what he's been making and selling down the street for years. His new Ohio City spot greeted us with roasted red tomato salsa alongside a spicier blend of green tomatillos, jalapeno and cilantro. A refreshing mix of papaya, pineapple, mango and habanero pepper arrived a few minutes later. Though unexpected, such complimentary care is indicative of Rodriguez's approach to his food. His focused lunch menu includes just half a dozen entrees along with two vegan soups and two salads. He opts for lighter preparations that show off individual flavors such as a black bean, chorizo and goat cheese quesadilla ($8), which arrives atop a mound of jicama and carrot slaw. We also enjoyed the Pollo Ahumado ($8), smoked chicken chilaquiles topped with chile de arbol and charred tomato salsa. It seems the only bad decision you could make is leaving without buying a to-go order of one of the day's salsas, sold in 8-ounce ($3.50) and 16-ounce containers ($5).

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