ST. CHARLES – I had been wanting to try Poblano Pepper Grill since it opened in February in the Main Street Commons across from Charlestowne Mall, so it was with great anticipation that I visited the cozy, family-run restaurant for the first time with a friend.
A bell announced our arrival, and we were immediately greeted by an employee, who told us to sit wherever we liked. We chose a table by the window and soon began evaluating our dinner options over a basket of chips and what seemed to be more of a sauce than salsa.
Although we didn’t want to squelch our appetites, it was difficult to resist the crisp, homemade-quality chips.
Owners Ruben and Lizette Alonso, who say on their website they met 34 years ago at school in Mexico City, have created a menu that was all too tempting for this Mexican food fan.
Dining options include three types of salads; quesadillas that come with such fillings as steak, chorizo, chicken and pork; five types of tacos; eight dinner platters, including a tamale dinner and pollo con mole; and five types of tortas, which are Mexican-style sandwiches. There is also a kids menu for ages 10 and younger.
I considered the tortas because I have never tried one, but my reliable favorite won out. I ordered the enchiladas suizas, a house specialty of three hand-rolled corn tortillas stuffed with chicken and covered with green sauce, onions, sour cream and melted cheese.
My friend ordered the house enchiladas: three hand-rolled corn tortillas stuffed with potatoes sauteed with cheese and onions and covered with the house guajillo chili sauce. It was also served with lettuce, onions, sour cream and cheese.
Both platters came with Mexican rice and refried black beans.
We were not disappointed.
Our meals arrived at our table with steaming food that filled almost the entire plate. I most enjoyed the melted cheese on the enchiladas. Other Mexican restaurants tend to serve a cheese sauce atop enchiladas, but the cheese at Poblano Pepper Grill was gooey and warm and stretched across the table as I gave my friend one to try.
To my surprise, my first thought when taking my first bite wasn’t about the chicken inside the enchilada but the tortilla that encased it. The tortilla had a crispness to it I have yet to encounter at other restaurants.
Meanwhile, my friend commented that the more he had of his potato enchiladas the more he liked them because the potatoes grabbed onto the taste of whatever it was with. He was also a fan of the refried beans – a side that he said can often be of a “throwaway” quality. These, he said, were worth filling up on.
Stuffed from our meals, we declined our waitress’ offer of dessert. Options are flan, traditional three milk cake, Mexican gelatin and pina colada pound cake.
We left Poblano Pepper Grill agreeing we should eat there again and had few suggestions about what could have made our experience better.
While we liked the location for its large parking lot and accessibility, we couldn’t help but wish it was more visible from Route 64 so that more people would discover – as the Poblano’s tagline states – “sabor a México,” which means “flavor of Mexico.”
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant each week and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.