Restaurant Re­view Oa­sis Café

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - Yia­mas

un­less I’m starv­ing and pressed for time, I try not to eat while I’m work­ing. For one thing, I be­lieve it’s im­por­tant to give your food your un­di­vided at­ten­tion; for another, a messy sand­wich or any­thing saucy can re­ally gunk up a key­board.

That said, when I sat down to type out notes for a re­view of Oa­sis Café in El­do­rado, I had trou­ble mak­ing any progress at first, be­cause the half­sand­wich I had brought home from lunch ear­lier that day kept dis­tract­ing me. It was a called the Caprese, ba­si­cally a vari­a­tion on the classic tomato-basil­moz­zarella salad on slabs of rich fo­cac­cia-like bread. It was dense with milky-sweet moz­zarella, with a gar­lic-lemon aioli to give it an ex­tra punch. I wished for more of the su­per­fresh tomato and the pesto, which stood in for basil leaves. Still, I couldn’t stop go­ing back for just one more bite.

The Mediter­ranean-in­spired Oa­sis is a mostly non­de­script­look­ing sand­wich shop (it’s hard to dis­guise the truth of its ori­gins: Many moons ago, the space was oc­cu­pied by a Sub­way fran­chise) hid­den in El­do­rado’s La Tienda shop­ping cen­ter. The quiet but friendly cur­rent own­ers are John Con­lon and Re­becca Silva, who ap­par­ently do a good bit of the work be­hind the counter and in the kitchen; they’ve done a nice job spruc­ing and clean­ing the place up, with brightly col­ored walls and cheer­ful chalk­board menus. There’s a tiny pa­tio out­side, though dur­ing the height of sum­mer, even with sun­shades, it’s still not an ideal place for lunch. Frankly, if it weren’t am­ply shaded, the ex­pan­sive wall of win­dows in the main din­ing would ad­mit more sun­light than would be com­fort­able on a July af­ter­noon.

The menu fea­tures some of the usual sus­pects — falafel, gyro, sou­vlaki; a salad heavy with olives, cu­cum­ber, feta, roasted red pep­per, and dol­mas — but it’s not so ex­ten­sive that you’ll need a vo­cab­u­lary lesson or to brush up on your Greek. A few more con­ven­tional of­fer­ings are part of the mix as well, from a Cubano and a Reuben to a tuna hoagie and pulled bar­be­cued pork (though I’m not sure what busi­ness Amer­i­can cheese has be­ing on that par­tic­u­lar sand­wich).

The Ve­gan Oa­sis is another plate-clean­ingly ad­dic­tive sand­wich. Toasty warm, a pil­lowy pock­et­less pita cra­dles Ping-Pong balls of not-at-all greasy falafel, their tawny crusts giv­ing way to mildly herbed, faintly fluffy sa­vory cen­ters with a nub­bly tooth­i­ness. Tak­ing it over the top are pa­per-thin rib­bons of onion and disks of cu­cum­ber, un­com­mon but oh-so-wel­come black and green olives, and slices of im­pos­si­bly red and ripe tomato, all doused in a creamy but bright tahini sauce.

The Street Oa­sis is a sim­ple gyro — one of Oa­sis’s sup­ple pitas cradling su­per-ten­der lamb and beef and more of those ruby-red toma­toes, all thor­oughly lac­quered in a bright but lus­cious tzatziki. I’ll also be back for another Big Greek Salad, a giant bowl of crunchy green let­tuce strewn with more vi­brantly briny olives, chick­peas (al­ways wel­come in my book), ar­ti­choke hearts, feta, shaved onion, sliced cu­cum­ber, and thick strips of roasted red pep­per that were smoky and sweet but a bit un­wieldy. You get a bonus of two lit­tle dol­mas, tiny ten­der cap­sules of vine­gary rice in briny grape-leaf cas­ings. The whole thing feels like a steal for less than eight bucks. And I’m so glad the own­ers re­sisted the temp­ta­tion to call it “My Big Fat Greek Salad.” Each sand­wich also comes with a side — some­times tab­bouleh, some­times slaw, both in minis­cule cups, but you won’t care, be­cause the sand­wiches hog the spot­light. The tab­bouleh is the type that’s heavy on chewy specks of soaked bulgur rather than pars­ley; it’s en­joy­ably chewy, salty, and lemony. The slaw is de­light­fully vine­gar-based, brac­ing, and crunchy, its light dress­ing giv­ing off in­trigu­ing hints of car­away.

Oa­sis is a wel­come ad­di­tion to El­do­rado, a cap­tive-au­di­ence com­mu­nity with his­tor­i­cally slim pick­ings in the truly good, worth-leav­ing-home-for food de­part­ment. The own­ers would do El­do­rado a big fa­vor by stay­ing open a bit later to cover more din­ner­time hours. This also seems like the ideal take­out food to en­joy over a beer at the Santa Fe Brew­ing Co. tap­room just around the cor­ner. to that!

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