Monday, November 17, 2008

Yuma Southwestern Grill: fabulous falling-off-the-bone ribs

Yesterday, after Shan and I got our haircuts, we decided to head over to what I refer to as Taipei's newest gourmet ghetto for lunch. We we're thinking perhaps Mary's Hamburger, or Toasteria, or Alleycats. (The great benefit to a gourmet ghetto is that you don't have to make decisions until you arrive and then choose whatever strikes your fancy.) As we walked down the alley off of Lane 216 past Din Tai Fung, we were struck by the bright facade of Yuma Southwestern Grill.

Yuma Southwestern Grill Facade

The menu posted on the sign looked promising, and most importantly, the food some diners were having looked good. So we decided to try it out. We chose to sit outside as the inside still smelled a little of paint (the restaurant had opened just a day before), and ordered:

Roasted Pumpkin Soup, NT$90

The Duke - flame grilled ribs with your choice of sauce (we chose cranberry and honey), handcut fries, and coleslaw, NT$430

and a Sierra Spinach Wrap, NT$175

The pumpkin soup was so good, I obviously forgot to take a photo until we had eaten half of it. Unlike most pumpkin soups in Taiwan, it wasn't watery with "essence of cream" flavor and just a hint of pumpkin. It was thick and creamy, and a dollop of sour cream on top provided richness and contrast.

The ribs were delicious - falling-off-the-bone tender, juicy, and the sauce was just the right balance of tangy and sweet. The coleslaw that came with it was one of the best coleslaws I've ever had. Just enough mayonnaise to keep it moist, just enough tang to keep the flavor sharp, and crunchy veg.

The fries are very good, too - not at all greasy, soft and mealy on the inside, and crisp on the outside. The first time had them, I personally found them a little too brown on the outside for my taste (I think the chefs forgot to sprinkle on chili powder), so the browned flavor was overwhelming, although Shan thought them just right. The second time I had them, the fries were dusted with chili powder and were perfect.

The only disappointment to our meal was the spinach wrap, which was overwhelmed by the cranberry and orange vinaigrette. Joe, the manager, assured me that they are still tweaking that recipe. Yuma's founders include Alan Pontes, the founder of Alleycats Pizza, so I'm confident they'll be able to deliver. They already have a promising start.

Overall, it was a great meal. If you know your Taipei Tex-Mex options (and there aren't that many), it is as good as Chili's, but less greasy and more reasonably priced.

The restaurant has a fairly spacious patio, and since it located on a quiet alley off of the lively Lane 216 on ZhongXiao, you don't have to worry about inhaling scooter fumes along with your food. On the inside, there is a small bar and large spaces with gaily painted walls that would be suitable for a large group of friends. There's also a smaller room that would be great for a private party.

Update 11/26: I enjoyed my dining experience so much, I got a jonesing for their ribs and returned three days later. This time, I tried their dry rub ribs and it was excellent. I also tried the chicken salad, which was very good as well. I especially liked the ranch dressing, which was very thick and creamy. Yum.

Yuma Southwestern Grill - highly recommended now closed
#21 Alley 11, Lane 216, ZhongXiao East Road, Section 4, Taipei

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