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Mystery Diner

Mystery Diner: Making a meal of it at McAlister's Deli

Hot soup tends to warm the body on a cold winter’s day.

And that was the case during a recent – and memorable, for more reasons than one – lunch outing at McAlister’s Deli, which opened at 1492 Randall Road in Geneva last year.

I had never heard of McAlister’s Deli until it was announced that a location would be opening in Geneva. But the restaurant has been spreading its name, as the McAlister’s brand has over 350 restaurants in 26 states, according to

“Founded in 1989, McAlister’s Deli is a fast casual restaurant chain known for our sandwiches, spuds, soups, salads, desserts and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea,” states the site. “In addition to dine-in and take-out service, we also offer catering with a selection of sandwich trays, box lunches, desserts, a hot spud bar and more.”

With temps in the low double digits during this recent lunch outing, my friend and I hustled into McAlister’s to place our order at the front counter.

We both opted for the “Choose Two” option, where a customer picks two of the following – cup of soup, half a starter, half a salad, half a spud or half a sandwich – for $7.49.

My friend ordered the Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap (with guacamole) and the Chicken Tortilla Soup, while I ordered the Horseradish Roast Beef and Cheddar Grilled Sandwich and squash soup.

We also ordered a Diet Coke and Famous Sweet Tea, respectively. Our food was delivered to our booth quickly.

The Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap comes with Romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing in a wheat wrap. My friend enjoyed the wrap, as well as her soup, which I also tried.

The soup had a nice kick.

“I think it was good,” my friend said of her meal. “I think the menu was a little overwhelming, but the woman [at the counter] was super helpful.”

Meanwhile, the Horseradish Roast Beef and Cheddar Grilled Sandwich was a hit at my end of the table. That sandwich comes with Black Angus roast beef, sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and horseradish.

In my book, if a sandwich says that it comes with horseradish, it better taste like it does, which was certainly true of what I ate at McAlister’s.

The squash soup rounded out my meal nicely. My friend commented that the soups were served at just the right temperature – hot enough to eat right away but not burn one’s tongue.

Next time I go to McAlister’s, I’d love to try an item off of the “Giant Spuds” part of the menu, which includes a Bacon Spud, Grilled Chicken Spud and Veggie Spud.

To be sure, I will keep McAlister’s in mind as a future place to stop for a quick meal. But I will never forget my first visit to the restaurant, as the fire alarm went off and stayed on for quite some time.

The staff handled the incident well, keeping up communication with customers. Plus, we got a coupon for a free cookie. And that’s not a bad way to end a meal in my book.

• 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 about once a month and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.


To learn more

For more information about McAlister’s Deli in Geneva, visit or call 630-402-0340.

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