Chile Relleno, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. (More about that in a moment!)
One of my absolute favorite restaurants when I lived in DC was El Tamarindo. I have such a history with that place that it makes me smile just to think about it. It was there that I met the utterly charming Gladys Fernandez, who is now here in Rehoboth Beach. She is now the proud owner of Cilantro, a delightful addition to the restaurant scene in downtown Rehoboth. The first time I went, I was expecting to find a menu similar to El Tamarindo with home-style Mexican and Salvadoran cuisine. Surprisingly though, Cilantro's offerings are lighter and more sophisticated in a most pleasing way.
Before the meal even arrives, I'm deliriously happy with my margarita and salsa. Both in my opinion, are perfect. The tasty margaritas are served in beautiful, hand-blown glasses with little flecks of color (I love when restaurants pay attention to the details – I think it speaks volumes), and the salsa has just the right flavor, texture and spice.
Along with my margarita, chips and salsa, I order the Guacamole en Molcajete, made with fresh avocados, cilantro, tomatoes, onions and Mayan spices. It is quite yummy, and is accompanied by homemade corn chips. Other vegetarian appetizer options include the Sopa de Lentejas (lentil soup – which is vegan as well), the Ensalada de Espinaca (baby spinach with cranberries, almonds and pecans with Balsamic vinaigrette) and the Ensalada del Jardin (arugula, peeled orange, kiwi with a mustard and olive oil dressing). Cilantro also serves Mexican style corn on the cob, coated with mayonnaise, cheese and chile piquin.
On the dinner menu there are four Platos Vegetarianos: Chile Relleno, Spinach Enchiladas (Enchiladas de Espinaca), Vegetable Enchiladas (Enchiladas de Vegetales) and the Burrito Pobre (burrito stuffed with lettuce, rice, beans, avocado, pico de gallo, topped with salsa verde and melted cheese). I've tried them all but I ruined myself by having the Chile Relleno first. It is far and away the best one I've ever eaten, anywhere, anytime. It's so light! The cheese and the chile have so much flavor; the tomato sauce is divine and now I know I have to go there as soon as I'm done writing this because I have to have it again! And that's exactly what I've been doing. Every other visit I go back to the chile relleno because it's consistently amazing and currently reigning as my favorite dish which in this town is saying something. The other three veggie entrees are very good, but the chile relleno is in a class by itself.
The lunch menu contains seven different egg dishes, five of which are vegetarian. All egg items are served with Mexican homefries and refried beans. They also offer a bread salad on the lunch menu that I've yet to try but sounds interesting: Ensalada Panzanella del Chef Fernando (bread salad with arugula, apples, toasted almonds and fresh mango).
If you know me, I'm most likely parked at the bar. It's where I like to eat because I love meeting new people and people who are drinking tend to be chatty. Behind the bar are four beautiful sangrias in large glass containers: Traditional, Blanca (white wine), Rosada (rose wine) and Cava (sparkling wine). The muy bueno margaritas are made with fresh lime juice and agave nectar. I love this trend towards using natural sweeteners like agave nectar. (BTW – agave is the plant from which tequila is made and the nectar from the plant is known in Mexico as aguamiel or “honey water.”)
If you don't go to Cilantro today, promise me you'll head there soon. Tell Gladys that Deb Griffin sent you. I'll be the woman at the bar swooning over her chile relleno. At 122A Rehoboth Avenue. Click here to see the menu. (302) 226-1000.