Take a seat at El Cubilete in Niagara Falls and they arrive almost immediately -- warm chips, with the nutty taste of corn, and freshly made roasted tomato salsa, which has a well-rounded flavor with just the right amount of heat.
El Cubilete offers authentic Mexican cuisine.
El Cubilete's owner and chef, Roberto Montes, came from Cueramaro, in Guanajuato, Mexico, and after spending years working in Mexican restaurants in the Northeast, he came to Niagara Falls and started his own restaurant.
"I didn't know why nobody was using true Mexican flavors," Montes said.
So Montes fashioned a menu that features the true subtleties of Mexican cuisine.
Beef, chicken, pork -- are slow cooked and then pulled into shreds or cut into chunks before becoming tacos, tamales and enchiladas. There are savory sauces: tomatillo, chipotle, Ranchera, red hot, burrito, mole, cheese (asadero and Oaxaca) sauce and a "Our Special" sauce which you have to try to know what it is like to really dine in Mexico, while still in Niagara Falls.
Some dishes are spicy, but Montes tries to cater to the customer. If you ask for "Mexican Hot" however you will get the real spicy, hot taste of Mexican cuisine.
El Cubilete is at 9400 Niagara Falls Blvd, at the location of the former La Bruscetta; the decor is in golden yellow with green and red accents, adorned with art work and photographs reminiscent of old Mexico. El Cubilete is intimate space. It has comfortable tables and brown and maroon booths, with high walls which allow for privacy that makes conversation easy; it's a great place to take a date.
El Cubilete has liquor and wine, their specialty is the margarita.
The appetizer selection is large and includes not only an array of nachos, but queso fundido (cheese dip with Mexican sausage and tortillas) jalapeno poppers, chile relleno, taquitos (rolled corn tortillas filled with shredded beef) and pork tamales. The guacamole, made fresh daily, is buttery and mild, with luscious chucks of fresh avocados.
Then there is the shrimp dishes for which it should be justly famous. The Canarrones Al mojo, Camarones a La Crema (Large shrimp drizzled with cream sauce), or Camarones A La Diabla, comes with rice, beans and guacaomole. The flavors are bright, clean tasting.
The Caldes De Res soup, brimming with beef, vegetables and rice, is a meal itself.
Of course, El Cubilete's authentic menu includes all the traditional items: quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, tamales, fajitas. But they are more sophisticated than the usual Tex-Mex fare or what you get elsewhere. Here they come out steaming and savory, spiced to perfection.
The steak in dishes like Poblan Chipotle Tampiquena is lean and juicy. The enchiladas are taste sensations, especially the verde (chicken with green salsa topped with lettuce tomato and sour cream), and the rice and beans that accompany most dishes are full of flavor.
Carnitas, chunks of pork shoulder marinated in citrus juices and slow cooked until they are falling-apart good. Chile verde, a casserole of pork chunks simmered in a chile mora sauce. have to be sampled.
You can become addicted to this kind of fare.
Save room for dessert. The Churros is light and saturated with flavor. The Xangos Cake (cheese cake wrapped in tortilla, fried and dusted with cinnamon and sugar) is satisfying; The flan is rich, its sauce has a real home-cooked texture.
El Cubilete is your gold standard for Mexican food in this area. If you like Mexican food and haven't tried it, you are missing out on something special.
Long ago, in a little village in Guanajuato, not too far from Mexico City and Guadalajara, Roberto Montes Jr., learned to cook from his father, Roberto Sr. and his mother Jeromina. They taught him to cook not only with love that makes all food special, but with attention to detail, to using the best ingredients in the most delicate proportion.
This is what makes good food great.
There is a difference: why one chef is renown while others are forgotten.
Come amigo, see for yourself.