ST. CHARLES – Kane County has no shortage of Mexican restaurants, but you should make room for one of the latest offerings on St. Charles’ west side.
Salsa Verde Mexican Restaurant & Taquería, 1850 Lincoln Highway, St. Charles, offers authentic Mexican food and a fun, colorful atmosphere. The restaurant immediately sets the tone for its diners with the bright lime green exterior of its building. On the inside, you’ll find all of the traditional Mexican restaurant staples, along with a salsa bar that includes eight different choices prepared daily.
A group of friends and I decided to dine in during a recent August lunch hour. We were greeted to the sounds of the Dominican Republic guitar music known as bachata, an impressive color picture menu board and one of the courteous owners, who was manning a cash register.
While we waited a few minutes for our orders to come out, we snacked on great-tasting chips and a hearty mild salsa. We also sampled some of the salsa bar, including the one the restaurant is named for. Don’t let the creamy texture of the green salsa – “salsa verde” in Spanish – fool you, it is quite spicy and you will only need a smidgen of it to give your dishes a kick.
Speaking of dishes, I skipped the standard carne asada and instead ordered the Carne a la Mexicana after the owner recommended it. This meant my skirt steak would be served with grilled vegetables, red sauce and cheese.
The steak was tender and the sauce, cheese and veggies added layer upon layer of flavor to my lunch. The standard sides of refried beans and authentic red rice did not disappoint either. It was well worth the extra $2.50 over the $9.49 carne asada.
Those two carne dishes are part of the restaurant’s specialties menu, which ranges in price from a $7.49 Chile Relleno (stuffed pepper) to a $12.99 Carne Asada con Camarón (grilled skirt steak with grilled shrimp).
My friends will attest that the $7.49 combo menu will also leave you full and satisfied. During our visit, one of them ordered the Chimichanga Combo with beef (chicken also available), which is placed inside a flour tortilla and deep fried until crisp on the outside and covered with cheese sauce. My friend gave two thumbs up to the cheese and the rest of the dish, which was served with sour cream, lettuce and tomato on the side, along with rice and beans.
Another friend ordered the Nachos Supremos Combo, which included tender ground beef (also available with chicken), beans, lettuce, diced tomato and sour cream, all on those yummy chips oozing with melted cheese. My friend said it was like “falling into a vat of wonderful.”
Sour cream and cheese also topped off a third friend’s perfectly spiced Steak Tacos, which are $1.85 each with toppings at $.50 each. She also ordered a large $4.49 guacamole and chips appetizer that was, in her words, “amazing.” This friend also frequents the restaurant’s drive-thru, which she said is quick and convenient.
Portions are definitely plentiful at this restaurant. A fourth friend’s order of two tamales – one chicken and one pork – tasted good, were filling and the largest she’d ever eaten, she said.
From this lunch outing it was evident that the Salsa Verde menu is reliable if you have a favorite dish or taco you like to order every time, or if you want to try something new from its large menu. You will remember Salsa Verde for its bright green building, and especially for its food.
If you go
What: Salsa VerdeWhere: 1850 Lincoln Highway, St. CharlesHours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and SaturdayInfo: 630-444-0673 or www.salsaverderestaurant.com
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits different restaurants and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.