In 1992 Carlos and Cele opened Casa Ramirez. Their goal? To open a place where they could share their recipes from Mexico directly with the residents of the Mahoning Valley. They succeeded. Today, Casa Ramirez delivers authentic family recipes, an unparalleled setting, and first-class service that culminate in an experience like no other. From the home-made sauce and chips to the specialty dishes that are served nowhere else in the United States, Casa Ramirez has something for everyone.
Stop by today, and see why Casa Ramirez has quickly become a local landmark on Youngstown's Westside or visit their new location on Belmont Avenue!
Anyone can put on a sombrero, make a taco, and call it Mexican food. At Casa Ramirez you'll have Mexican food that's truly authentic. This is "real Mexican food". Exactly the way they serve it in Mexico. The food is very simple with few ingredients, it's not spicy like you may expect, it's just true authentic Mexican fare as it should be, not Tex Mex fare from a chain restaurant. It's traditional food using meats and vegetables from local businesses. According to owner Carlos Ramirez, "everything is fresh and very authentic, everything is cooked to order".
Carlos and his wife, Celerina, originally from Michoacan, opened their first restaurant on Mahoning Avenue in Austintown in 1992 and their new location on Belmont Avenue in Youngstown in June of 2011. Their goal was to open a place where they could share their recipes from Mexico with the residents of the Mahoning Valley and they've done just that and more.
The Mahoning Avenue location has become a local landmark to Youngstown's "West siders", like myself, but my visit today was at the new location on Belmont Avenue. I was greeted by Carlos, and Carlos, the Ramirez's son who does most of the cooking. He cooks what he knows and cooks from his heart. He serves dishes he has eaten his entire life. As I was looking at the photos on the wall, the elder Ramirez smiled as he told me about each picture. His home in Mexico where he grew up, Cele's home, pictures of young Carlos on the back of a horse, and then he explained the mural on the back wall. "This side is her home town, look, the house is the same as in this photo. This side is my home town, and in the center is the capital, Morelia." Not only did they bring their recipes, they brought a piece of their home as well. I loved hearing the stories and learning a little bit about Mexico and a little about the Ramirez family, but I couldn't wait to try the food that I've heard so much about.
If you can't decide what to try first at Casa Ramirez I suggest you order the Fiesta Platter for Two. This one has a little bit of everything and it's perfect for sharing and a great way to try an assortment. In the center of this large platter, chicken fajitas. Yummy grilled chicken and colorful, fresh vegetables waiting to be wrapped in a warm tortilla. Add a little chunky guacamole and a bit of sour cream for the perfect bite. Surrounding the fajitas are two Potato Flautas and two Beef Enchiladas all cut in half giving you eight pieces on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes. Served with a side of rice and beans, this dish has it all. The flautas were new to me and I was pleasantly surprised. They had a potato filling and were deep fried to a golden brown. One bite reminded me of a fried piroghi. Dipped in sour cream, ah, I love these.
The next dish I tried was Pollo Michoacano. The younger Carlos' favorite dish. He told me that growing up, this was the dish he always asked for on his birthday. One bite and I could understand why. Two tortillas are fried in the secret Ramirez sauce, which by the way is amazing, and stuffed with delicious grilled chicken. A simple dish, but clearly my favorite dish as well.
Another traditional dish, and another first for me, Sope. This dish is so pretty to look at and has wonderful flavors as well, three Sopes, rice and beans. It's a very popular dish in Mexico but not very well known elsewhere, until now. Dough is shaped into a little bowl, like the bottom half of a burger bun hollowed out, fried, then filled with just about anything. My Sopes today were filled with potato and chorizo then topped with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Just pick it up and bite into it. The cool lettuce and tomatoes give way to a bite of chorizo and a nice warm potato filling. A lot of flavor is packed into these and it all works so well together. You could fill these with just about anything. It's like a pizza with the works, but Mexican style.
One dish I will try on my next visit is the Molcajete Dinner. Marinated strips of steak, chorizo sausage, and slices of Mexican cheese are served in a molcajete which is like a stone mortar bowl. Carlos shows me the Molcajete and tells me it comes out sizzling hot covered in a green tomatillo sauce, a side of beans and rice and warm tortillas. It looks amazing and I'm sure the flavors are phenomenal prom dresses. This one's on my "south of the border radar".
You haven't had real Mexican food in the Valley unless you're eaten at Casa Ramirez. The menu is full of things you won't find anywhere else so your first time won't be your last. Two new dinners that are becoming very popular are the Enchiladas Supremas and the Chimichangas Cancun. My suggestions for your first order. Start off with some chips and homemade salsa and a cold, delicious margarita. Anything with the Ramirez sauce is a winner, love the flautas and the fajitas but if you're feeling a bit adventurous and looking for a little sizzle, go for the Molcajete.