Desert Oasis Cafe…ever heard of it?

Neither had I, but I got quite a few inquiries about this hidden eating establishment.

I have been hanging around Rio Rancho City Hall a lot, and the people there rave about this place. Since I do a food column, I had to ask, “Where is this hidden gem?”

The answer might surprise you.

It is not in Enchanted Hills, across from Intel or buried in a plaza on Southern Boulevard, but inside UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center. Hospital food.

Wait a minute! Hear me out. I was skeptical, too, but this place is the real deal, and they are very affordable.

First of all, they had so many items on the menu. From patty melts to cheesesteaks to breakfast burritos, they have something for everyone.

The Desert Oasis Cafe Philly cheesesteak and onion rings are made when you order. (Daniel Zuniga photo)

I asked some medical staff members eating there to tell me their favorite thing off the menu, and the table resoundingly said, “Philly cheesesteak and onion rings!”

I had to agree with them; most of them went to medical school and I barely squeaked out a bachelor’s degree. Also, an employee vouched for the Philly cheesesteak.

The customer service was amazing, and they even gave me a complimentary serving of peppermint mousse.

The peppermint mousse had a nice airy and light look, crushed peppermint on top, and a tasty cream-cheese sweetness. On top of all of that, the cool peppermint flavor was epic.

I put my order in, and watched the cook whip my order from scratch.

Here’s the peppermint mousse at Desert Oasis Cafe. (Daniel Zuniga photo)

In less than five minutes, my order was ready. I sat down and was happily surprised by the generous servings.

The onion rings were hot, crispy, and had just the right amount of salt and a very nice crunch. In fact, you do not even need condiments to enjoy these onion rings.

The Philly cheesesteak had great toasted hoagie, melted provolone cheese, grilled bell peppers, caramelized onions, and a generous portion of thin beef steak.

The finely chopped steak was very tender, the butter on the bread wasn’t overwhelming at all, and the caramelized onions were very soft and jammy.

A great steak sandwich, and it cost less than $6. Add the onion rings, and you spend a grand total of $7.35. Not a bad deal. Well worth the price.

Time to end the stigma that hospital food is bottom-tier food. Try Desert Oasis Cafe. Friendly service, and great food at unbelievable prices.

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