Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday. No reservations Friday and Saturday, and usually not necessary during the week. Accessible to persons in wheelchairs. Parking lot. American Express, BankAmeriCard and Diners Club accepted.
Maybe General Santa Anna didn't know it, but neatness counts at the Alamo. At least it counts at the Mexican restaurant of the name on Kenilworth Avenue. Two, not one but two, signs in the window tell you "proper attire please. No work clothes. No tank tops. No T-shirts. No barefeet. Neat appearance is required."
Tidiness is not a strong point in our household so I was taken back momentarily by these regulations on the evening my family and I, dressed in our Friday worst, arrived to dine at the Alamo. Anyhow, we tucked our shirts in, smoothed our hair and entered the place the way the bad guys slam into a saloon.
Inside, the Alamo was, after all, casual and welcoming, filled with taco-toting diners, most (neatly) attired in sport clothes. Without so much as a sneer at our jeans, a hostess led us to a table in one of the restaurant's two dining rooms. The place was comfortable - whitewashed walls with wooden beams, reasonably soft lighting and enough space between tables so you couldn't eavesdrop on your neighbors.
We were brought a big basket of warm tostados (corn chips) and a bowl of what looked like watery chili sauce. It was salsa picante, a platable hot sauce that is manageable for sissified American tastes.
Indeed cost of the Alamo's fare is toned down and includes the polular staples found in most Mexican restaurants here - enchiladas, tamales, guacamole, etc. But within this framework, the Alamo provides a good deal of variety, and the meals are generally satisfying and within the budget of most peso-pinching families. The menu is written in Spanish, but those of us who confuse tacos and tamales or forget that jalapenos are those invidious little peppers that sizzle your sinuses can ask for a printed translation.
I inquired of our waitress about the sopa de ajo. "Well, it's garlic soup with a poached egg floating in it," she said, unenthusiastically. I had a glass of white wine instead and concentrated on the entrees.
The Alamo offers various combination dinners in the $5 and $6 range. My husband had the San Antonio, so called, we think, because it can feed that entire town and the suburbs, too. For $5 he got a garden salad, Mexican rice, a beef taco, a cheese enchilada, a beef tamale and refried beans.
In case you've forgotten, an enchilada is seasoned cheese or meat encased in a soft tortilla, which is a flat, corn flour pancake. A taco is a meat mixture served in a crispy tortilla topped with shredded lettuce, tomato and, in some cases, grated cheese. A tamale is corn husks stuffed with meat.
Fortunately, you can order ala carte. For $2.90, our 10-year-old had a fine time trying to keep her three beef tacos intact. The beef mixture was on the dry side and no cheese was served, but the Alamo earned out gratitude for its unsparing portions and very fresh ingredients - the tomatoes were actually bright red instead of the pulpy orange we've become accustomed to in so many restaurants.
Number Two Daughter, aged 8, was unable to find any tacos stuffed with fried shrimp, so she had an order of three stuffed with chicken, $2.90, Ole.
I had toquito y guacamole, $3.15, which is to tortillas what banana splits are to ice cream. Strips of seasoned beef are rolled up in tortillas and deep fried. Then lots of things - sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole (mashed avocado) - are dumped on top, creating delightfully messy and tasty dish.
If you are not in a south-of-the-border mood, you can get a fried chicken dinner for $4.25 or steak for $5.50.
Pitchers of sangria are available for $3.25, and children's combination Mexican dinners are offered at $2.65. These include an enchilada, rice and beans.
The menu tells you that you will be taxed for the live music which, on the evening we were at the Alamo, was provided by a gentleman who unobstrusively strolled among the tables strumming Latino ballads on a guitar.
Our bill, including dessert, coffee, tip and serenade came to only $21.12. For that, we'll remember the Alamo.