Coconut Creek diners felt a void when Lime Fresh Mexican Grill shut its doors at The Promenade in June. But a Southern California staple has moved in, not only replacing Lime but kicking up the notion of fresh Mexican cuisine.
Rubio’s Coastal Grill got its start in 1983 in a former Orange Julius in San Diego’s Mission Bay neighborhood; it’s best known on the West Coast for Ralph Rubio’s famous fish taco, made with Alaskan pollock that’s coated in a secret beer batter. (A Google search reveals more than a few copycat recipes, but Rubio’s take is so secret that you won’t find the original.)
Like Lime, Rubio’s menu is full of fresh Mexican-inspired choices in a fast-casual setting—that’s restaurant-speak for the convenience of fast food, but healthier and a tad more upscale. The description aptly fits.
What distinguishes Rubio’s is that the seafood is front and center in its dishes. Usually, fish inside a tortilla is hidden beneath the fixings, but here, seafood such as mahimahi, sea bass and shrimp is placed atop lettuce and beans. When a taco or a burrito arrives at the table, it’s served open-faced, and it’s up to you to fold the tortilla your way.
Speaking of which, Rubio’s stone-ground corn tortillas aren’t the crunchy, yellow shells usually served with tacos. They have a thicker and softer consistency that allows folding without cracking. Chris Clayton, Florida district manager of Rubio’s Coastal Grill, says Ralph Rubio spent five years perfecting his creation.
The Coastal Trio is a good way to get a sampling of the seafood offerings. The flight of tacos includes the original fish, shrimp and a choice of tilapia or mahimahi. Customers may choose between corn and flour tortillas.
The salsa, created in-house daily, is another signature item. Chili peppers are roasted early in the morning, before the restaurant opens, because the distinct aroma can be overwhelming, Clayton says.
The South Florida locations also have something not found in every Rubio’s restaurant. Margaritas were a favorite of local Lime diners, so they’ve kept the frozen alcoholic beverages. Of course, Rubio’s adds its own California spin, infusing the tequila with sake. Choose from classic or mango-flavored.
Rubio’s now has 200 locations across the United States, but Florida is its first East Coast venture. Along with Coconut Creek, its South Florida outposts include Fort Lauderdale and downtown Miami. It also has restaurants in Orlando, St. Petersburg and Tampa.
“Florida was always a primary expansion location because it’s a coastal area, too,” Clayton says.
“Coconut Creek, with its family-friendly atmosphere and so much going on in this up-and-coming community, was the right fit for Rubio’s.”
Rubio’s Coastal Grill
The Promenade at Coconut Creek, 4425 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek