When looking for a good traditional Mexican food option in the area, there are plenty of options.
But one that has always been near the top is El Molino in Carpentersville. It's located just south of Route 25's intersection with Algonquin Road, so it's very accessible. When you pull in, you notice the ivy over the brick walls.
There is an outside dining area out front of the building, but we chose to head inside on a recent Tuesday late afternoon and we were seated immediately in a very colorful dining area. The front of the restaurant is the bar area, near the back (road side) is the dining area and out a door is the outdoor dining.
We mainly stayed indoors because it looked like it might rain, not unlike most of the month of June.
Chips and two types of salsa - a spicier red and a mild green - arrived at our table swiftly along with a pair of waters. They were refilled quickly throughout the meal as well.
We added a lemonade to that while I ordered a Negra Modelo draft.
The tough part is always picking the entree.
We chose to pass on appetizers, though the queso fundido is always a favorite. there are both large ($8.95) and small ($6.95) options. The jalapenos el Molino ($8.95), essentially jalapeno poppers, also looked like a good option.
My fellow diner picked the cheese quesadilla kids meal ($6.95) with rice and beans, always a favorite and the El Molino version was a definite pleaser.
The 1/2 quesadilla was cut into four parts, perfectly browned and it came to the table melting but not too hot to hold. The rice and beans also got a thumbs up while the pico and lettuce mix was wisely separated on the plate. This diner wasn't going to eat it up but I was able to steal it and add it to my entree.
After careful consideration of everything from the tacos to burritos, I went with the flautas ($12.25), which included three long tortillas, deep fried and filled with chicken and then topped with sour cream and guacamole. Actually, they came on the side and I was happy to dip them in myself.
It's easy to get an overly hard deep-fried tortilla on flautas, but these were not that. They were sturdy but no too much and came out piping hot, so I started with the rice and beans while we enjoyed having the dining area to ourselves and one other group.
It was simply relaxing.
We finished up and left ourselves room for dessert, opting for the mulitas ($3.75) over the fried ice cream ($3.75). It was a dessert tortilla with cinnamon/sugar on topfilled with strawberries, deep fried and topped with whipped cream. It was a sweat way to finish off a good meal and we shared it.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.