Authentic Mexican restaurant Ruta Oaxaca opens Friday on Main Street in Patchogue

With the odds of the pandemic era stacked against him, Jose Castillo opened his first restaurant in January 2021 in Astoria. Fourteen months later, he doubled down, opening his second Route Oaxaca on Main Street in Patchogue.

The new restaurant fills the vacancy vacated by Swell Taco at 30 E. Main St. when it closed last September after five years in business. While Swell Taco offered California-style vibes and tacos, Route Oaxaca prepares authentic Mexican cuisine.

“It comes from grandma, cooking moles (a traditional sauce and marinade) in Oaxaca,” Castillo said of her restaurant’s recipes. “And of my two chefs, chef Filipe [Arellano] and chef Carlos Arellano, they are brothers, were raised and born in Oaxaca, and they have worked in high-end Mexican restaurants in the city.”

Castillo said his and his chef’s faith in their kitchen inspired him to open a restaurant despite tough times for the industry.

“They have a passion to cook everything and make it gourmet,” he added. “We love what we do, and seeing our employees leave happy is the most important thing to us.”

Tacos, fresh fish and ribs

Those who miss ordering tacos at Swell Taco can now find their fix at Castillo’s joint.

“Everything is going to be a home run, but I think the tacos, especially the cochinita pibil and New York steak tacos, are going to be home runs,” Castillo said.

The restaurant’s menu goes far beyond tacos, taking diners on a journey south through Mexico, as the restaurant’s name suggests – meaning en route to Oaxaca.

Its entree menu includes fresh guacamole, chicken bunuelo, and chori queso, all served with homemade corn tortillas.

Castillo predicts grilled sea bass, enchilada verde and New York strip to be local favorites. However, they may be second only to its most popular dish: costilla istmenas.

“Ribs cooked for three and a half hours, they fall off the bone,” he said. “They are super tender and delicious. People who love ribs say it’s the best thing they’ve ever eaten.

Brunch specialties and drinks

Castillo said the new Mexican restaurant will be open seven days a week and will serve brunches daily from noon to 4 p.m. The restaurant also offers happy hour bar specials Monday through Friday, 4-7 p.m., and two-for-one margaritas on Saturdays. and Sunday, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

While the restaurant’s interior is adorned with traditional artwork, Castillo said he’s still tinkering with the restaurant’s rear outdoor patio. Among other features, he plans to add seating and paint a colorful mural in time for “a crazy Cinco De Mayo party.”

“You’re on vacation when you come here,” he said of his vision of outer space.

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