By Becky Billingsley
Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, Little River – While the service is friendly and the atmosphere is pleasantly and quaintly rustic at Rubi’s Texas Grill in Little River, the food is average and the prices are on the expensive side for the value.
Susan Sarlo opened Rubi’s in early October at 4310 McCorsley Ave. in Little River, in the former location of Papi’s Texican Grill. Lance Lorenzen is the general manager, and when I stopped for lunch at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 25, one other table of three was occupied.
The day before, a reader sent me a message saying, “Just ate at Rubi's Texas Grill for the 1st time and it was absolutely HORRIBLE. Got Margarita chicken sandwich (nothing to write home about) with fries that were still raw inside!!! Chips and salsa didn't compare to the previous 2 owners of what was formerly Papi's. Used to go to Papi's at least twice a week but WON'T be back to Rubi's for sure. Prices were also high. Cost me over $19 for chips/salsa, coke and chicken sandwich. This place will NEVER survive with the quality of their food if Papi's couldn't make it with GREAT food at a lot less cost.”
Okay then, I was warned.
I was greeted immediately and warmly by my waitress and by Sarlo and Lorenzen, who were going over paperwork at the bar. When they saw me pull out an iPad, they asked if the WiFi was working properly, because I was the first customer they noticed with a wireless device. It was working.
The décor hasn’t changed from when the restaurant was Papi’s. There’s still a bar in the middle with dining areas at each side, with booths, regular-height tables and cocktail tables from which to choose. The ambiance is that of a honky tonk bar at a Texas desert crossroads.
The menu, however, is all over the place, with some dishes that could be called Tex Mex and other that are typical bar food or country cookin’. Not that there’s anything wrong with country cookin’.
Appetizers are $3.25-$7 and include Fried Dill Pickles, Onion Rings, House-made Chili and Chips and Salsa. There was an appetizer special the day I visited – Crab Balls – for $8, and I chose that.
I received five Crab Balls, each two bites. The server asked how I liked them, and I gave her honest feedback: I thought the cream cheese/crab filling was too loose, and the habanero dipping sauce was too runny. Then the server brought the cook out of the kitchen to my table to hear the feedback, which I repeated. They took my opinion graciously.
I also thought the sauce wasn’t spicy enough, but when my husband reheated the leftovers in the microwave the next day, he said the balls and the sauce were “Yummy!”
For my entrée, I wavered between one of the creative burgers or a Taco Bowl. Since it’s a Texas grill, I went for the $6.50 American-Mex Original Taco Bowl, which came with sour cream and minced pico de gallo.
The serving size was generous, but the bowl was boring. While I appreciated the amount of diced fresh tomato on top, the other ingredients in the crispy taco shell bowl were lettuce, shredded Cheddar, diced onion and bland taco meat. Not bad, but not exciting. It would help a lot if the dish had a little zing to it.
They also offer Fajita Beef and Fajita Chicken Taco Bowls for $7.25-$7.95.
The day’s lunch special was Fish and Chips.
About those burgers – they sound creative. Priced at $7.25-$9, they include Pork Loin Burger with Fresh Apple Salsa, Mushroom Gravy Burger, Chicken Feta Burger, Burrito Burger with Black Bean Salsa, Crab Burger with Lemon Lime Salsa and Garden Veggie Burger with Avocado.
Rubi’s also serves Chicken or Beef Quesadillas ($6.25-$7.25) and a few dinners for $8.25-$15 such as Seared Pork Loin, Mardi Gras Chicken with sautéed tomatoes and onions; Crab Cakes; and Tuna Steak with sliced pineapple.
Rubi’s has a full bar, and every day pints of Coors Lite, Blue Moon, Miller Lite or Pabst Blue Ribbon are $2. On Mondays, Margaritas are $1.50.
For football on Sundays, Mini Hot Dogs and Sliders are a buck apiece.
My lunch tab for a Taco Bowl, Crab Balls and a Diet Coke was $18.17, including tax but not including the tip.
Would I visit Rubi’s again? Yes, but I wish there was more Tex Mex fare on the menu. I think there’s still some tweaking to be done.
Rubi’s Texas Grill is at 4310 McCorsley Ave. in Myrtle Beach, and the number is (843) 504-8134. It’s open daily for lunch and dinner.