Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Atmosphere: Bright, casual.
Price range: Sandwiches from $3.50. Mexican entrees $5.75 to $8.95.
Reservations: Large parties only.
Credit cards: American Express, Mastercard and Visa.
Special features: Entrance accessible to the handicapped. Highchairs and booster seats. Children's items. Saturday and Sunday brunch specials.
Everyone has dreams about his or her name -- dreams about shortening it, making it more romantic or popularizing it. Restaurants go through the same identity crisis.
Sometimes a restaurant will hope to create a new mood by changing its interior. Or it might change its menu. Once in a while, the name is changed and the menu complements the new character.
Thus, McHenry's. The former El Sombrero is now McHenry's Sombrero, a restaurant with all the old options supplemented by a large menu. The combination of a McHenry with a Sombrero sounded enticing. What new tastes would we encounter?
Unfortunately, the restaurant is uncertain of its own identity. The menu -- 10 pages long -- reads more like a catalog without an index. Confronted by the long list, we found even selecting an appetizer to be overwhelming, so we deferred to the waitress' judgment and decided to start with the beef nachos, $4.75.
The combination of beef and refried beans topped with cheese on a fried tortilla chip is delightful. But McHenry's does not provide extra plates with its appetizers, and we were left with thin napkins as the only defense against dripping grease.
Although the menu was loaded with options for everything from hamburgers to omelettes, there there are some unavoidable rules. For instance, you cannot order chili rellenos or tamales unless you order a large combination dinner ($7.95).
My husband gave in to his tamales and rellenos craving and was served a large amount of almost indistinguishable items -- a cheese enchilada, a beef taco, refried beans and a sombrero cup of guacamole. The one virtue of the entire platter was the use of shredded beef filling in the tamale instead of ground beef.
A non-Mexican suggestion from the waitress, red snapper vera cruz ($7.95), helped solve a second adult order. But it was the most disappointing entree of the evening. The fish was overcooked and covered with a thick cheese sauce.
From the children's selections, our daughter easily settled for the fried shrimp platter ($3.25). She received three medium-sized shrimp that were slightly underfried and needed the spirit of a lemon.
The best entree was chicken fingers ($5.45), breast pieces that had been lightly fried, batter-dipped and served piping hot. They come with a large onion slice and french fries.
The restaurant does try. It spends time on presentation: each order is a colorful display of food. But the portions are just too large and often tasteless.
McHenry's is a new name under an old, tired hat. Whatever the reason, the new name and the larger menu do not solve inadequate cooking preparation and bland tastes. Find the least complex item and possibly all will be more successful.
We decided against dessert, for nothing sounded unusual or necessary. Our dinner for three adults and a hungry child was $38.33, including tax and tip.