No, it is not a hard-to-find restaurant, but a column for AdVantage News! Each week the Secret Diner will post a review of a River Bend eating establishment. The Secret Diner will not review chain or franchise restaurants, only privately owned ones. About the rating system: zero stars would mean avoid at all costs, one star is pretty bad, two stars is merely fair, three stars is OK, four stars is good, and five stars is perfect! Before posting a negative review, the Secret Diner will give the establishment a second chance at a different time of day. See if you can determine the name and location of the restaurant under review! The answer will appear in next week’s column.
Did you discover what restaurant was reviewed last week? It was Woody’s Drive-In Restaurant, at 110 Homer Adam’s Parkway West in Alton. It used to be in an A frame building on Godfrey Road and featured a fish tank with an enormous piranha. It has been at its “new” location for many years, but I still miss that ugly fish.
Today’s review is on a Mexican restaurant that is a favorite of many. I was there on Cinco de Mayo a few years ago, and it was so packed, you couldn’t squeeze another customer in with a shoehorn! My club decided to meet there on this visit, and we kept having to appropriate adjoining tables to fit us all in.
There is one large, square room with a full bar, a long narrow room, and a smaller, more private room with murals for parties. There were three flat-screen TVs that I could see. The building is brick, with large uncurtained windows in an arch shape. I was a little worried about the sun’s glare off an adjoining building, but it did not become a problem. The menu was filled with traditional Mexican fare, but with a few little quirks that made it original.
I found the salsa too spicy for me, so I just ate the free chips and engaged in conversation with my friends while waiting for my order. I ordered chicken nachos and was very pleased with the dish. The spice level was perfect for a wimp like myself, and it was a large serving for a very reasonable price. When the time came for dessert, one of my friends said one of her friends flipped over the banana chimichanga, describing it as “better than sex.” I definitely wanted to try it! However, I was given fried ice cream because our server explained they were out of bananas. My friend who recommended the chimichanga also had fried ice cream, and we both noticed it was chewier than the same dessert at other places. Eventually we both figured out that, instead of being made with corn flakes or sugar frosted flakes, our desserts had been made with raisin bran flakes. Finding the occasional raisin was what tipped us off. It was still good, and I finished every bit.
We paid at the cashier’s counter. Toothpicks were available there, and mints were on a small table on the way out. The nachos I ate were $4.95, dessert was $3.25, and I drank water.
Cleanliness – three stars
Food – four and a stars
Wait staff – four stars
Overall – four stars
Are you able to recognize this restaurant? Check the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner