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Three bites: Salsarita, Wileys, Rancho Alegre
Wileys BBQ


I didn't have high expectations for Salsarita, a franchise Tex-Mex joint that took over the former Quizno's location on Waters Avenue. I am happy to report that I was delighted. The remodel of the space is much warmer and the menu offers a fresh new face on burritos, tacos and similar Mexican-style dishes. My half-sized burrito -- awesome idea -- was made to order while I watched, and was delicious with rice, beans, chicken and a splash of salsa. My side of salsa and chips offered crispness - in both the chips and the salsa flavors. I tried a margarita -- made with agave wine and premium Bacardi mix -- and liked it. Same flavors, less alcohol. It's available frozen or on the rocks. The eatery serves beer and wine.

5205 Waters Ave./ 355-5595


Wiley's Championship BBQ

This restaurant's middle name isn't simply hyperbole -- Wiley has a wall full of awards and medals to prove his claim of "championship." The pulled pork is moist and smoky, the brisket juicy and flavorful - but on this visit, I had St. Louis-style ribs. These big, meaty ribs are done to perfection -- biting cleanly off the bone -- and are loaded with flavor. Sides of baked beans (really baked -- in the smoker -- were rich and delicious; the sweet potato casserole is prepared in that classic Southern style: sweet, gooey and with just enough crunch topping.

4700 US Highway 80/ 201-3259


Rancho Alegre

Ummm. beans in a perfect sofrito, sweet, fried plantains and yellow rice are satisfying enough. But add an entrée order of Ropa Vieja and you'll see why this Cuban-inspired restaurant has such a loyal following. Prices are inexpensive to moderate -- particularly for lunch -- and the menu offers a little something for everyone: roasted chicken, braised pork, fried fish. The desserts -- flan, tres leches and passion fruit drizzled cheesecake -- are wonderful, but I like to finish with a strong, sweet Cuban coffee.

44 Posey St./ 691-0110‎