Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight; closed Sunday.

Credit cards: American Express, Diner's Club, MasterCard, Visa.

Atmosphere: Blond California.

Reservations: Suggested for lunch; not needed for dinner.

Price range: $1.95 for a taco to $7.25 for a fish dinner.

Special facilities: No booster seats or highchairs; inaccessible to wheelchairs; carryout available; free evening parking on street.

Friends recommended Cisco's as a good Mexican restaurant with a nice ambiance and prices that wouldn't sting. But we should have known better. Our friends don't have children.

On a recent visit to Cisco's with our 8-year-old and 5-year-old and their cousins, ages 12 and 6, we found the restaurant conveniently located on a prominent street corner in Rosslyn. We entered what can only be called a vision of California splendor: potted plants hanging all over, acres of blond wood, mirrors, a curved wooden bar in the middle of the 175-seat dining room, honey-haired waitresses and knickknacks suggestive of the Hispanic experience everywhere.

With the restaurant less than half full and most customers preferring the 75-seat patio, we found ourselves pleased that cigarette smoke and other intrusions wouldn't disturb our dining pleasure.

The waitress was very considerate. She worked wonders at the bar, returning almost immediately with tooth-chilling drafts of ice-cold Michelob ($1.40) for the adults and the standard soft drinks (60 cents) or milk (90 cents) for the kids.

But once we waded through the list of 17 appetizers, five salads, 11 combination dinners and 38 a' la carte selections and decided on the evening meal, things got unhappy fast. That's because our orders took at least 40 minutes to arrive from the kitchen.

The 5- and 6-year-olds were overcome by the ordeal, our banal chatter and the soft drinks in no way making up for the numbness creeping over them as we waited out the kitchen.

The waitress was nice about it, going out of her way to check on the meal and keeping us posted on developments in the kitchen. There was nothing unusual going on, she explained, the kitchen simply works slowly on each order. So she brought the big people more chilled beer and kept the tostados and spicy dip coming as we did our best to occupy the wee ones.

Happily the kids' fidgetiness quieted with the arrival of quesadillas ($2.95), small, firm tortillas with a spicy cheese topping. Not only was it welcomed, but the appetizer was undoubtedly the most generous and tasty dish we had all evening.

When the rest of the meal finally arrived we found the spinach salad ($4.25) crisp and generously topped with mushrooms, real bacon, sliced egg and a nice house dressing. But it was distressingly small for the price.

My chicken burrito ($3.75) with chili rellenos ($2.60) and a tiny guacamole side dish (95 cents) was pleasant but too small for my dining dollar.

The supertaco ($3.60), a "giant concoction for the giant appetite" as the menu described it, was anything but that. The meat in one was so dry and bland my wife couldn't finish it. Although we could have sent it back, the notion of waiting another 40 minutes considerably dampened our enthusiasm for doing so.

The lettuce, tomatoes and spring onions accompanying many of our dishes were fresh and zesty, however, and just what Mexican food needs, even if portions were small.

Chicken chimichanga ($4.25), a chicken-stuffed burrito, deep fried and topped with a tomatoey sauce and sour cream, was better, more flavorful and fresher than other dishes we ordered. And unlike other dishes, it was piping hot when it arrived at the table.

Finally, the good old American hamburger ($3.95) passed the taste test, as did the french fries that came with it.

In the end we decided to not have dessert. Flan, cheesecake and carrot cake ($1.75 each) excited no one's interest.

The tab for the food and lots of drinks was $47.76.

Our main problem with Cisco's is that it really is for singles and young couples out for some drinks and nibbles after work or before the theater.

We can't blame the restaurant. What we really needed was a more thoughtful suggestion from our childless friends.