He Said: We were running errands on a Wednesday mid-day, and She Said raised the possibility of breaking up these drearisome errands with a bite of lunch? And why not make it someplace we haven’t yet reviewed? So, being on this side of town, we decided to pop into Patrón, one of the 8,423,897 Mexican restaurants in the greater Conway area, and see what we could eat here.
She Said: We’d had a tough week (He Said had been to the ER after an epic dog-walking accident), and I was ready for a mid-day margarita. I remembered that Patrón offered a cucumber margarita several years ago on the single occasion we’d been there. That sounded very good to me.
He Said: Seating was in wooden tables with heavy wooden chairs. The chairs were interesting to look at, with different carved figures on the backs. But they weren’t especially comfortable for sitting. The dark wood made for a fairly attractive interior, though.
She Said: I like the interior here a lot. The dark furniture and false-front bungalos give it a cozy, fun feel.
He Said: Pepsi products, hence, Mountain Dew. And it was pretty much what one might expect from Mountain Dew.
She Said: Well, they don’t have cucumber margaritas anymore (or did I dream it?), so I went with my standard favorite, the frozen mango margarita. I got the "regular" or small, and it was just right for lunch, rich and grown-up, without being too sugary or strong.
He Said: I had a little bit of an issue with the menu. There is a good deal of variety here, but to simplify my choices, I went to the lunch menu. I liked the idea of the "Speedy Gonzalez," which promised a taco, an enchilada and a choice of rice or beans, all for a mere $4.99, which I thought sounded like a good deal. Problem was, the menu did not state whether I would have a choice of chicken or beef if I made such an order. Of course, that’s what waiters are for.
But I didn’t get that far, because further down the menu there was a bowl of chicken tortilla soup. Having been denied chicken tortilla soup at the site of our last review, I felt like the universe owed me a bowl. And so that’s what I ordered.
Now what the menu said was this: "Chicken Tortilla Soup. $5.99." Unlike other items on the menu, there was no description or list of ingredients. I did expect chicken. I also expected pieces of tortilla. What I didn’t expect was that so much of the body of the soup would be made up of chopped up avocado. Obviously, that promised to be delicious, but for me, avocado is one of the few vegetables I need to be wary of because of its high fat content Anyway, I spent awhile picking a very significant portion of the avocado out of the soup. It would have been less of a problem for me if the soup wasn’t already fairly heavy on the cheese—also a high fat contender, but much harder to eliminate from the mix. As it was, the soup was actually very good—probably would have been even better if I’d eaten it with all the avocado intended. So in the end, if you like chicken tortilla soup, you’ll probably enjoy Patrón’s version. And there is a lot of it—easily enough for a full lunch in itself. It’s not, however, a great low-fat possibility.
Perhaps the "Speedy Gonzalez" is. But I never did find out if you can get it with chicken.
She Said: I asked for guacamole to go with my chips, being firmly anti-salsa. I was offered the table-side fresh version, but I wasn’t feeling up to all that, so I just got the regular, and it was very good, with just the right mix of ingredients to highlight, not overwhelm, the avocado goodness that is the whole reason for the dish in the first place.
My margarita craving sated, I looked for something light for lunch, maybe an a la carte quesadilla or chalupa, but then I saw the lunch menu’s chicken empanadas, and the deal was sealed. I love those little pockets of goodness, and I haven’t noticed them on a lot of menus in Conway. These came with refried beans and rice. First, I should have just told them to hold the rice because, as you know dear readers, tomato rice is a special kind of torture to me, being tomato-y. But the refried beans were very good, and I wanted more. The empanadas were a success! The crust of the little fried pie was crispy on the outside but soft inside, and they were filled with tender, tasty shredded chicken, cheese and a little—but not too much—heat. They were filling though, and even with a lunch portion of two, I could only eat one and a few bites of the second. They come with a red sauce, but I asked for cheese sauce, obviously, and that was good, as were the guac and sour cream I also put on them. I will definitely be ordering these tasty beauties again!
He Said: No complaints here. They were friendly, courteous, and efficient, without being obtrusive.
She Said: Efficient, professional and helpful.
What We Got and What We Paid: One bowl of chicken tortilla soup, one large guacamole, one empanadas de pollo, one small margarita, one Mountain Dew, all for $29.10
Elapsed Time from Entry to Food Arrival: 12 minutes
He Said: A better than average Mexican restaurant for Conway, in a pretty nice location. Of course, they do have a lot of competition.
She Said: A strong contender for a Mexican-food outing, especially if you want empanadas!
So…He Said, She Said, and She Also Said: Go here for pleasant ambience, good Mexican food and professional service!
Editor's Note: Eat It, Conway is produced by local author Jay Ruud and his wife (poet and novelist Stacey Margaret Jones). The couple has begun an attempt to eat at and review, every restaurant in Conway, Arkansas. The Log Cabin Democrat and thecabin.net are publishing Eat It, Conway with permission from the authors. Visit them online at jayruud.com and on Facebook at Eat It, Conway. In addition to restaurant reviews, Ruud authors movie reviews on the site.