Elvis is in the building.
And he’s running the show at La Cabanita, a resurrection of a Poughkeepsie restaurant favorite, now occupying a former church on Main Street.
Mexican is the name of the game here, and along with the classics, be prepared for some Oaxacan treats.
Oaxaca, if you’re not familiar with it, is known for 7 moles. At La Cabanita, along with the classic mole negro, you can also opt for mole estofado or Amarillo, all served with chicken and rice.
There is plenty of more familiar fare, including tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas. Be careful though, if you’re in a large group and all order fajitas, Elvis may ask you to switch tables. On a recent evening, a table of eight all ordered fajitas and when they arrived, piping hot and sizzling, they set off the smoke detector over the table and it was bedlam until the local fire department arrived to shut it off.
Guacamole is made to order and if our recent experiences are any indication, if you like it spicy (even a little bit) ask for it spicy. My only complaint both times we’ve had it is that it tends to be mild, but the good chips make up for that.
The first time we were there was a chilly night, so I went for that classic Mexican hangover cure, posole. It’s a soup/stew made with hominy (white corn) shredded cabbage and at La Cabanita, your choice of shredded pork or chicken in a rich broth. A squirt of lime and you’ve got a perfect cold weather treat.
Frank went for the tacos, and because it was a quiet night was able to get all 3 with different fillings (on our second visit, they were super busy and would only do 3 of the same). While he was happily munching on all of them, his favorite was the chorizo taco.
On our second visit, we wanted to explore more of the menu. This time I tried one of the 3 moles they have, the mole Amarillo. It was more soup-like than I expected, but really delicious. My only complaint, and it’s minor, was that it had big chunks of chicken, potato, and chayote that needed to be cut into manageable bites, which was hard when they were floating in the broth. A combo of every utensil on the table and a lot of splashing broth and I worked my way through half of it before deciding to take it home where I could be messy in private.
Elvis’ cousin recommended the tlayudas to Frank. Picture a massive quesadilla stuffed with black bean salsa, cheese, chorizo, avocado and shredded cabbage and you have a good idea about this mess of goodness. I loved the corn tortilla that had spent a nice amount of time on a grill, giving it a great taste. It’s massive, so split one, take half home, or pass on guac and dessert. We took half of Frank’s home and I had a great lunch the next afternoon.
We’ve never made it to dessert and I’m not sure what they have, except the last time we were there, some good-looking churros were going to a nearby table.
La Cabanita is open every day except Tuesday for lunch and dinner. Follow them on Facebook to get specials. For weekends and holidays a reservation is a good idea.
763 Main Street Poughkeepsie