by Jac Bergenson
On Route 52, nestled between a barber shop and a gymnasium is a small, family owned and operated Mexican Restaurant called Cilantro—an appropriate namesake, given the prominence of Cilantro in Mexican cuisine.
My guest and I made our way to Cilantro on a frigid Thursday night, where we found a cozy little dining room and an incredibly well-stocked bar overflowing with tequila. We sat about in the middle of the dining room, between the bar and a television playing a soccer match. This could be a little distracting for dining guests; it was for me.
The tequila calling me, I had to try one of Cilantro’s margaritas—and so I did, before ordering my meal. The margarita was not as sweet as I am accustomed to and was definitely poured a little tall (not that I’m complaining).
As for the food, the menu had its own takes on much of the traditional Mexican fare—enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos—as well as some lighter dishes, like lightly-breaded chicken cutlets with rice, among other dishes. I was starving, so I couldn’t help myself when I saw the beef burrito (they also offer chicken, broiled steak, pork al pastor, and bean burritos).
That burrito was massive. I’m never one to take home leftovers—such is life when you have the appetite of a black hole. But I hardly finished half of my burrito before I called it quits. There must have been a solid pound of well-seasoned ground beef, rice, beans, and more, all accompanied by guacamole, pico di gallo, and sour cream. I ordered a side of rice and a side of beans as well, which I am accustomed to receiving on the side by default, which were generously portioned, but could have used a pinch more salt.
My guest, a quesadilla aficionado, couldn’t resist the chipotle chicken quesadillas, which came with generous helpings of chipotle-rubbed chicken and cheese oozing out of the sides. Again, the plate was overflowing with food—if I learned one thing about Cilantro from my visit, it was that they did not cheat you on the food.
The meal was accompanied by complementary chips and salsa. The salsa was everything you’d expect from a quality Mexican restaurant—no surprises there—but the chips were very underseasoned, if they were seasoned at all. Corn chips without a touch of salt just carry no flavor.
As for the service, it was genuinely friendly, although our waitress was clearly new, as she was asking questions of another waitress back by the kitchen. Service could be a bit slow at times, especially considering there was only a few guests in the restaurant. My guest and I sat in front of our completed meals for about ten minutes, as our waitress looked on, before we were offered boxes. But anyone in the restaurant business knows the growing pains that come with learning a new menu at a new restaurant, so the faults of the service (which came with a smile) were entirely forgivable.
In all, Cilantro offered a quality meal at a decent price. Did I have the best Mexican food of my life? No. But I wouldn’t hesitate to go back in the future. The incredibly generous portions were the highlight.
Where: 986 Main St, Fishkill, NY (CVS Plaza)
Price Point: $10-20 per entree