(Ed. note--Folks: another popular feature we used to include in the zine version of TheCommonspace.org were the "Eat Me in St. Louis" reviews of city restaurants penned by John Ginsburg. We don't want you to be wandering around out there, hungry in the urban jungle, without some guidance; herewith, an installment concerning Arcelia's, in Lafayette Square.)
"Eat Me in St. Louis
2001 Park Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63104
This review features a return to the Dinner Club, and its support of Dining Out for Life, St. Louis Effort for AIDS’ annual restaurant fundraiser. Arcelia’s sits across from the northeast corner of Lafayette Park, and has remained a steady source to satisfy your Mexican cravings long before the recent commercial development gained serious speed just one block east.
Each diner was handed two menus, which was confusing at first for some...
The one titled “Look What’s New” featured the assumed recent arrivals of a salmon plate with fried tomatoes and a chimichanga plate with your choice of steak, pork, or chicken. There were also several items on this menu that had been crossed out, which seemed odd if they were indeed supposed to be new. The menu also listed a website for the restaurant (www.arcelias.com), but as of this writing, that link was not active (I wish I took better notes instead of thinking I could cheat later).
Most of those among us chose some sort of combination plate. The empanada/flauta/burrito plate was “muy bueno” (of course), the chicken burrito combo disappeared quickly off the plate, and the burrito/beef enchilada was “cheesy, too much so.” The chicken enchilada by itself was heralded “so good,” the shrimp quesadilla merely received “fine,” and apparently the chicken mole’s sauce was a little watered-down, but the dish was still OK. The empanada of the enchilada/empanada combo was described as the “secret” to the meal, but was still “no DC empanda.” I had not been aware of our nation’s capital owning that cuisine category. As for me, I had always been told that the potato enchiladas were Arcelia’s house specialty. That comes with black beans and white rice, and while the enchiladas seemed a little dry and salty at first, with enough salsa they went down nicely.
Much to the delight of the companion to my left, a humorous moment occurred when I tried to order a large margarita. Perhaps it was the din from the crowded room, or maybe I was mumbling the word “large” to make it sound like “salt,” but it was repeated several times and yet I still ended up with a small margarita. No problemo, the waiter was happy to super-size me my tequila concoction.
Our group dined in the back room down the stairs, and most of us who had been there before had only been to the front upstairs portion of the place. The evening’s cause brought out a good crowd, filling the entire place. Not only were we happy to know that a portion of what we paid went to an AIDS support organization, everyone at our table kicked in a little more, too.