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Published September 02, 2009, 12:00 AM

Restaurant review: Casa Ramos offers diverse Mexican cuisine

Casa Ramos is a Mexican restaurant with a near-Rainforest-Cafe feel. It’s kitschy décor complete with in-house waterfall, close-to-life-size giraffe, bright, carved wooden furniture and artificial trees, is somewhere between a ride at Disneyland and a Tiki bar.

By: Eric Daeuber, Special to The Forum, INFORUM

Casa Ramos is a Mexican restaurant with a near-Rainforest-Cafe feel.

It’s kitschy décor complete with in-house waterfall, close-to-life-size giraffe, bright, carved wooden furniture and artificial trees, is somewhere between a ride at Disneyland and a Tiki bar.

Your kids will love the atmosphere even if it doesn’t seem quite finished yet. But if you’re in it for the food, though, you won’t be disappointed.

The menu at Casa Ramos is enormous. It covers carnitas, which are grilled bits of beef and pork, from the central plains of Mexico, to the seafood of the Yucatan to the tamales of the Pacific Coast. With that mix Casa Ramos offers a bit more than the usual American-style Mexican restaurant. The obligatory chips and salsa are as good as any, but the remarkable part starts with the entrée.

Seafood fans should go directly to the house specialties and order the Mojarra Rellena. A whole fried tilapia topped with octopus and shrimp and finished with a bright, fresh red sauce, it’s the most expensive item on the menu – but at $17.50 it’s a steal.

Though the seafood is limited to the basics such as tilapia, shrimp, crab, scallops and octopus, Casa Ramos offers a pretty complete seafood menu with an authentic reflection of diverse Mexican cuisine.

For those looking for more predictable dishes, there’s a list of combos that take you up, down and around any Mexican-American restaurant for between $8.25 and $12.25. Burritos, enchiladas and tacos are predictably good. But the tamales are the real thing. And for those who can’t find much good to say about Mexican pastry or breads, the sopitos (raised tortillas) are genuine, slapped together in the back room like it was someone’s mother making them.

Casa Ramos’ menu has a vegetarian section, but many of the entrees are already meat free, making this one of the few places safe for those who feel like they’re only getting side dishes elsewhere.

Though courteous, the service can be uneven. Trying to request a table in a particular place is nearly impossible. Other tables around us were in and out before our meals arrived. And any request that seems a bit out of the ordinary may be met with confusion. But if you are an off-the-menu diner, there will be no complaints about the food.

There is a full bar, and though the margaritas ($6.95) are not extraordinary by any measure, there are plenty of flavors, so you’re bound to find something that matches your outfit, if not your dinner.

Overall, Casa Ramos offers a Mexican option with a good deal more diversity than you might expect. It’s a unique experience by anyone’s standards, if not to everyone’s taste, improved by better-than-average food.


Eric Daeuber is an instructor at Minnesota State Community and Technical College. Readers can reach him at food@daeuber.com.

Casa Ramos

1649 38th St. S.

Fargo

Cuisine: Mexican

Ratings:

- Food: Three stars

- Service: 1.5 stars

- Ambiance: 2.5 stars

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