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Photo by: B.A. Nilsson

By B.A. Nilsson

Mexican Radio
537 Warren St., Hudson, 828-7770. Serving daily 11:30-11. AE, MC, V.
Cuisine: Mexican fusion
Entrée price range: $11 (huevos rancheros) to $18 (Cajun burrito)
Ambiance: cheerful cantina
Clientele: NYC escapees

Here’s what I did for starters, and I recommend it. I ordered a serving of salsa and chips ($3.50)—and don’t get me wrong, the salsa is homemade and cilantro-centric—and lined up the six bottles of hot sauce. You’ll find a variety of them as part of your table setting, and I believe six is the norm, although I may have borrowed a bottle or two from an adjacent table.

I applied a dollop of each on a corn chip, and away I went, allowing each sauce to fully occupy my palate before taking a sip of my margarita and moving to the next. They ranged from fiery to beyond inferno, with enough individual flavor to require a second trip around the block. And then a third. Which takes its toll on a margarita.

Because Mexican Radio aims to please a broad-based clientele, the kitchen doesn’t fire up the heat in the menu items. Owner Lori Selden assured me that her own preference would be for a higher temperature, so the many sauces (which also are available for sale) are a compromise. Fine with me.

The Hudson branch of this Manhattan-based eatery opened a little over a year ago, after a year spent refurbishing a former antique shop. “It’s a re-creation of what we have in New York,” says Selden, whose location on Cleveland Place long has been highly acclaimed. “We thought about opening in Hudson for years. We’ve been coming up here for a long time, renting a place at first and then buying our own house three years ago.”

She’s a musician, and her husband, Mark Young, is an actor. Why a Mexican restaurant? “He grew up in San Francisco, and I lived there for years. When we moved to the East Coast, we missed the kind of Mexican restaurant we liked there. So we decided to open our own.”

Although we have ever-greater access to Mexican restaurants, as a culture we have no general sense of the legacy of this cuisine and thus find it difficult to assess the authenticity. Certainly what’s out there is of varying quality.

Mexican Radio starts with an authentic approach, but paints it with local color in the form of fresh ingredients and an innovative approach. The triple enchiladas mole ($17), for example, gives you a choice of any or all of the distinctive toppings, each flavored with unsweetened chocolate: raspberry chipotle, giving a berry-based sweetness to smoked jalapenos; a pumpkin seed-based one and the house mole, which adds raisins and almonds. Fillings include cheese, vegetables, chicken or beef.

Obviously, you’re paying more than you might elsewhere for enchiladas, but this isn’t the dish you’re getting elsewhere. The same holds true for the burritos ($15-$18), which are too-generously sized and teeming with flavor. The fillings, as described for the enchiladas, are treated as more than the usual afterthought, and also can include spicy shrimp, chopped plantains and perky chorizo.

I sampled an appetizer plate of the chorizo ($10) and was impressed not only by the sausage itself but also the added flavor of the wine and beer in which its simmered. It’s not something to spring lightly on unaccustomed friends, or at least on your mother-in-law if she’s anything like mine. One bite and she looked as if a traffic accident had occurred just south of her tongue. My daughter tried the chorizo and loved it. This is the contrast between one who relies on McDonald’s fare and one who doesn’t.

Because Selden herself is a vegetarian, Mexican Radio is an excellent source for meatless cuisine. The Three Crispy Tacos ($15) are a large version of what you’d expect, with a choice of fillings. Even when they’re taken solely on the veggie route you get a fine array of flavors, helped by the sauces of pico de gallo and a tomatillo salsa.

A side dish of beans is also bidirectional. Black beans keep you on the vegetarian path; pintos don’t.

Appetizers run from chips and salsa on up to a fancy Radio Roll-Up ($12), which is practically an entrée and gives you roasted veggies, beans and cheese in a deep-fried flour tortilla. I like the culture clash in Mexican spring rolls ($9), stuffing corn and mushrooms, peppers and guacamole into a wrapper that’s fried and served with a raspberry chipotle peanut sauce. You read that correctly.

The guac is great ($9 as an appetizer) and there’s even a Mexican fondue ($9) that invites you to dip tortilla chips into a Dos Equis-moistened hot cheese sauce.

Huevos rancheros ($11) as an entrée? Why not? For that matter, why not wrap Cajun-spiced shrimp in a burrito ($18)? It’s part of the approach immortalized in the Wall of Voodoo song, itself a tribute to a time when the most creative mix of music was coming to us from south of the border.

There’s much, much more to the menu—including some pricey but excellent desserts—and the restaurant itself is a cheerful, comfortable, multilevel spot for anything from cocktails to full-blown dining. I’m not much of a mixed-drinks guy, but the cheerful service, the creative jumble of decor (love all those candles!) and the hot sauce with chips made that margarita about as welcoming as a drink can be.

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.

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Have you eaten at any recently reviewed restaurants? Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...

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What you're saying...

I very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's at Ogdens. You review described my dining experience perfectly. This wasn't the case with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree that a restaurant can have an off night so I'll give the second unit on Central Avenue a try.

Mary Kurtz

First, yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back. Second, I haven't had a chance to visit Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading the reviews.

Pat Russo
East Greenbush

I would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant - it's not that far away. People traveled from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam. From his background, I'm sure the chef's sauce is excellent and that is the most important aspect of an Italian restaurant. Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm looking forward to trying this restaurant - I look forward to Metroland every Thursday especially for the restaurant review. And by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam location and is opening a new bistro on Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake Bistro. It should be great!

Peggy Van Deloo

So happy to see you finally made out!! Our experiences have always been wonderful, the staff is extremely professional, the food subperb, and the atmosphere very warm and comfortable. Let us not forget to mention "Maria" the pianist on Friday and Saturday nights.

Charlie and Marie
Michaels Restaurant

I have been to Michael's several times and each time I have enjoyed it very much. The food is delicious and the staff is great. Also, Maria Riccio Bryce plays piano there every Friday and Saturday evening, a nice touch to add to the already wonderful atmosphere. It is also easy to find, exit 27 off the thruway to 30 north for about 5 miles.

N. Moore


Elaine Snowdon

We loved it and will definitely go back.

Rosemarie Rafferty

Absolutely excellent. The quality and the flavor far surpasses that of other Indian restaurants in the area. I was a die-hard Shalimar fan and Tandoor Palace won my heart. It blows Ghandi out of the water. FInally a decent place in Albany where you can get a good dinner for less than $10 and not have tacos. The outdoor seating is also festive.

Brady G'sell

Indian is my favorite cuisine available in the area--I loved Tandoor Palace. We all agreed that the tandoori chicken was superior to other local restaraunts, and we also tried the ka-chori based on that intriguing description-delicious.

Kizzi Casale

Your comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants being as "standardized as McDonald's" shows either that you have eaten at only a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or that you have some prejudices to work out. That the physical appearances are not what you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing on the food. And after all, that is what the main focus of the reviews should be. Not the physical appearances, which is what most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on Central Avenue, may not look the greatest, but the food is excellent there. And the menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian, chicken, and more..

Barry Uznitsky

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