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Rudy’s Cafe brings Southwestern spirit to Teele

Restaurant Review | 3.5 out of 5 stars

Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 07:09

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Meagan Maher / The Tufts Daily

Atmosphere and good eats collide at Rudy’s Cafe in Teele Square.

 

Rudy Cafe’s small, unassuming exterior — complete with a cute, yet painfully unconvincing sunny desert landscape wall mural — fails to do justice to the tasty Tex-Mex found in this Teele Square spot. Though the restaurant’s location on a busy suburban Boston street corner might not suggest it, Rudy’s succeeds in creating both a genuine Southwestern ambiance and exceptional Tex-Mex cuisine.

Upon passing through the unimpressive tan cement entranceway, the atmosphere of Rudy’s changes dramatically. Instantly, diners are transported from a traffic-filled New England neighborhood to a vibrant, bona fide cafe and bar — a place that, on the inside, looks like it could be straight out of Texas. Yellow-painted walls with patches of green and orange peeking through create a subtle textured appearance, mimicking the traditional stucco buildings of the Southwest. These walls are covered in themed decorations: folk art paintings of Western scenery, metal lizard decals and rustic-looking chalkboard menus are haphazardly clustered together, all competing for customers’ visual attention. A few striped booths lead into a main dining area of scattered wooden tables and colorful chairs, separated from the bar and kitchen by a series of archways. Beneath every arch lies a vase of long green reeds, fuzzy cattails and other native Southwestern foliage. Various cacti plants line the perimeter of the restaurant, each in its own unique terra cotta pot adorned with chipped drawings of maracas and hot sauce bottles. Warm orange light streams down from the neon “Rudy’s” window signs and a circular electric fireplace only adds to the already cozy, intimate feeling of the restaurant. 

Of course, though good ambiance can set the stage of a restaurant, food is ultimately the main act of any dining experience. Rudy’s menu achieves a perfect balance by providing enough options for patrons to choose from without feeling overwhelming. The cafe divides its selection into five main categories: “Starters,” “Sandwiches,” “From the Grill,” “Salads” and “Tex Mex,” which is by far the most popular section to order from.

The beauty of Rudy’s is that, unlike most Mexican-themed fast-food joints like Chipotle or Taco Bell, the Teele Square restaurant is hesitant to break down their menu into single-item groupings. Few dishes are solely comprised of just quesadillas or empanadas. Rudy’s offers four “Combination Plates,” all for under $12, which give diners a choice of three of the following: tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas and burritos. Usually, each item on the plate has a different filling: for example, Combination Plate One includes a beef taco, chicken enchilada and bean burrito. If all of that sounds like too much, diners do have the option of ordering a basic burrito or enchilada. Most of these individual items are served with tasty sides like Mexican rice, black beans or tortilla chips, ensuring that guests still get their fill. 

Presentation is really the only department in which Rudy’s lacks: after all, it’s no gourmet bistro. Be prepared for big portions and messy condiments. Giant plastic water glasses may not look pretty, but they are practical when served alongside spicy food. The Combination Plates are also enormous, overflowing with melted cheese and piled so high with guacamole and sour cream that it’s almost difficult to find the food underneath. Though the dishes seem a tad over-the-top, Rudy’s prides itself on providing steaming, made-to-order meals. Servers bring out most plates with rubber potholders and make sure to give everyone the obvious cautionary disclaimer: Careful! These plates are piping hot. 

In true Southwestern fashion, Rudy’s also features a tequila bar. Serving 100 percent blue agave tequila, the bar offers a wide range of types and brands. Although they don’t have a wine list, bar-goers at Rudy’s can choose from blancos (“white” unaged tequilas), repasados (“rested” tequilas) or anejos (“aged” tequilas), in addition to other cocktails such as margaritas, daiquiris and coladas.

For those who want to enjoy a deliciously filling meal in an authentic Southwestern environment, Rudy’s Cafe is the place to go. A pleasant alternative to Harvard Square’s loud and hectic Border Cafe, Rudy’s is quieter and closer, but definitely no less fun. The restaurant is located at 248 Holland Street, Somerville, and is open Monday through Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Thursday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.

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