Review: Extraordinary “Off-the-Grid” Eats
1885 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo NY 14214 (Corner of Hertel Avenue and Parker Avenue)
Casual dinerette. Eat-in or take-out.
Nothing over $5.25
None (ATM on premises)
Street parking on Hertel with additional parking around the corner on Parker Avenue.
Authentic Mexican – Cuisine consists of quesadillas, ensaladas (salads), fajitas, tacos, chili, tostadas, burgers, and southwestern sides (such as frijoies (beans), steak fries and potato supreme. Extras of guacamole, sour cream, cheese, meat, jalapenos and their house salsa made fresh daily.
Type of Restaurant:
Lone Star Fajita Grill
Mexican fare is an acquired taste for two reasons, authenticity and freshness. If neither is done with care it can result in a gastronomical disaster. Considering all of the big-box fast food choices out there (such as Taco Bell or Chili’s) it is a wonder that there are any “mom and pop” establishments still out there that can provide for an authentic Mexican experience without undoing your wallet or intestinal tract.
The Lone Star Fajita Grill is an unpretentious establishment that offers a no-frills, honest approach to Mexican cuisine. It has been a popular spot for the people of Buffalo for over thirty years. Although the outward façade is lacking in glitz and frankly décor, the interior is warm and inviting. The dining area is decorated in a southwest motif with the immediate wall donning a framed antique rifle encased in glass. The rest of the décor is quaint enough to keep you amused whilst you eat; however, the plastic patio tables and chairs will remind you to not linger for too long. One strikingly curious detail, a medium-sized kitchen refrigerator sitting in one corner of the dining room, heightened my interest enough to inquire. It turns out this is where they keep the refrigerator’s one and only occupant, the fresh salsa made daily and stored here in a large metal pot. Patrons happily self-serve themselves by ladling this savory, full-bodied concoction of tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers etc. into small take-out containers.
The diner simply promises a robust, palate-satisfying meal at the right price. I am new to the place and have only tried a few meals including the taco salad, chicken taco salad and the chili burger. All three were cooked superbly. The taco salad was quite unexpected as it contained all fresh ingredients including bean sprouts, diced tomatoes, two kinds of cheese, and raw mushrooms mixed with a spicy meat mixture and layered within a light and airy taco shell. The chicken salad consisted of these same ingredients, but took it all one step further with the addition of the charcoal grille white meat lightly seasoned and made crispy with just enough char on it to bring out that authentic southwest flavor. Out of the three preparations, the chili burger was the best since it was zesty and the most flavorful. It was topped with sautéed red onions, cheddar cheese and a bold chili sauce of which I have never tasted before. Yum! When I added the fresh, homemade salsa it brought out the flavors even more. Check out the potato wedges. One bite was a complete mouthful!
Overall, reviews of this diner are mixed. I guess you either have to love it or hate it. I have a penchant for establishments without a sugarcoated appeal, regardless of how much of a hole-in-the-wall it might seem to be. As long as the place is clean and the food tasty, I can forgive the rest. In this case, the food is excellent and is inexpensive. I love it and plan to become a regular. If you are ever in North Buffalo, New York and looking for an authentic south of the border experience, please stop by. It beats fast-food any day.
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Pros and Cons
• Authentic flavors
• Lackluster ambience
• Large portions
• Cash only (ATM charges $2.00 fee)
• Expert culinary application
• Fast, courteous service