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Del Rio Mexican Restaurant

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

On Thursday, May 19, 2016 I had dinner at the Del Rio Mexican Restaurant at 356 Fairfax Pike, east of Stephens City, Virginia, on Route 277. It is located in an older shopping center with a large Food Lion anchor store, which originally had a Marshall’s Department Store, still vacant.

Hours are Monday-Thursday, 11:00 AM-11:00 PM; Friday & Saturday, 11:00 AM-1:00 AM; Sunday, 12:00 Noon-11:00 PM. The phone number is (540) 868-0111, and carry out service is available.

A large concrete patio along the front of the restaurant has a black wrought iron fence, four metal tables and a metal bench, and was not occupied at that hour. The front entry has no vestibule, but opens into a small cross hall affording some protection against drafts. There are two rooms; the bar room is on your left, and the dining room on the right was my objective.

Seating here is by a couple of tables for two along the window in front, tables for four along the right and left walls, tables for two down the center, and a large table seating eight across the rear. This was the only occupied table, and had a mixed group quietly conducting a meeting.

The dining room is well lighted; the side walls are decorated with stylized pictures of Mexican scenes, instead of the original serapes, sombreros, and maracas remembered from my previous visit.

The floor has large, light-colored squares and the ceiling has dark acoustic tile. There was no TV screen, and the only music I heard seeped in from the bar area, along with typical bar conversational noises.

The eight-page menu includes Appetizers; Brunch and Lunch, both served from 11:00 AM-3:00 PM; Burritos & Enchiladas; Chimichangas, Flautas & Quesadillas; Fajitas & Parrillada, House Specialties, Combination Dinners, Vegetarian Dinners, Side Orders, Chicken Favorites, Salads, Kid’s Meals, and Beverages. The latter do not include Cokes bottled in Mexico.

My server was Wendy, who immediately brought me the traditional corn chips and salsa while I looked over the menu. I chose from House Specialties, ordering Cochinita Pibil, marinated pork topped with green tomatillo sauce and cheese sauce, served with lettuce, guacamole, tomato, rice, refried beans, and a choice of corn or flour tortillas.

The order came quickly, before I was finished with the chips and salsa, and was served on a large oval heated platter. My three corn tortillas were folded and wrapped in heavy foil, and quite hot.

The food was very good, and the only reason I wouldn’t order this on my next visit is that there are so many other choices to try. The serving was large enough that needed a go-box to take somewhat more than half of it home.

I had dined here more than five years ago, and found that it is now under new management. The dining room has recently been completely redecorated, and a new menu adopted with a wider range of selections and slightly higher prices. The Del Rio is very definitely on my list of keepers.

I surveyed the well-populated bar area as I was leaving. High rise tables and chairs are along the left and back walls, in the center, and up front. The bar itself is along the right wall with perhaps eight seats.

There are four TV screens; one each on the left and back wall, and two behind the bar. A wall-mounted electronic juke box on the left wall was playing and contributing to the rather high general noise level because of the number of people.

— Perry Crabill
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China House

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

On Sunday, May 5, 2016, my daughter and I had lunch at the China House, 368 Fairfax Pike, east of Stephens City, Virginia, on Route 277. It is located next to Goodwill in an older shopping center with a large Food Lion anchor store.

Hours are Monday-Thursday, 11:00 AM-10:00 PM; Friday-Saturday, 11:00 AM-10:30 PM; Sunday, 12:00 PM-9:30 PM. The phone number is (540) 868-1858. Takeout is available, along with delivery up to six miles and on-line ordering. The Web site is www.chinahousestephenscity.com.

The entrance has no vestibule, and opens into a single small room. Seating is via three booths along each side wall, with a couple of tables in the center. In the rear is a service counter with menus displayed on the back wall. A Coke machine is along the wall here to your right.

There are hanging lights over the counter and elsewhere around the room. A dark carpet was on the floor, and the ceiling tile was a light color. Front windows allow light from the outside. I heard no music, nor do I remember seeing a TV screen or Oriental decorations.

The menu was an 11x17-inch sheet printed on both sides. The categories were Appetizer, Soup, Chow Mein, Fried Rice, Lo Mein or Mei Fun, Egg Foo Young, and Pork.

Also, Chicken, Beef, Shrimp, Vegetable, Healthy Sections, Side Order, House Specialties, Dinner Special, and Lunch Special. Neither beverages nor desserts were listed.

We had Shrimp Toast from the Appetizer Menu, and we both ordered dinner from the Shrimp Menu. My daughter chose Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, and I had Shrimp with Cashew Nuts.

Each order came with a bowl of white rice. I ordered hot tea, and was pleased to have it served in a heated metal teapot. The tea leaves were loose in the pot, but settled to the bottom of the glass teacup.

Our table had a bottle of Kikkoman Soy Sauce with just a little residue on the bottom. The bottle on an adjacent table was in the same condition.

Soy sauce appeared to be among the unlabeled plastic tubes of condiments in a dish; I consider that an unsatisfactory arrangement; opening them can be messy.

Both of our servings had an adequate number of fairly large shrimp, and mine had a goodly number of cashews. The vegetables included baby corn, diced carrots and celery.

There were also pieces of what may have been tofu. The sauce appeared to be soy. It was good food, but so large a serving that I took more than half of it and all of the rice home.

I was turned off by the empty soy sauce bottles and the plastic tube method of dispensing condiments, but I did appreciate tea being served in a pot. The ladies’ restroom was out of order, and a sign directed users to the men’s.

We saw very little of our server, although we were the only patrons during most of our visit. I rate China House as merely OK, and am not likely to be back. It’s a little better but no worse than the typical shopping center Chinese restaurant.

— Perry Crabill
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Del Rio Mexican Restaurant

Friday, December 11, 2015

Average Mexican restaurant. Nothing fancy here. Ok food and service. — Anonymous Reviewer
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Roma Casual Italian

Friday, December 11, 2015

Food is always consistent, great service, friendly staff and atmosphere, this is our go-to restaurant in Stephens City. The gyros are delicious. — Anonymous Reviewer
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Sake Sushi

Thursday, May 31, 2012

On Thursday, May 31, 2012, I had lunch at the new Japanese Restaurant east of Stephens City called Sake Sushi & Hibachi Japanese Steak House. It's located at 201 Centre Drive, Suite 109, in the Sherando Town Centre at the intersection of Warrior Drive and Route 277, and is behind Walgreen's.

Hours are Monday-Thursday, 10:30 AM-10:00 PM; Friday & Saturday, 10:30 AM-10:30 PM; Sunday, 11:00 AM-9:00 PM. Dine in and takeout are available. The telephone is (540) 868-8571, and the Web Site is http://www.sake-sushi.com/.

The entrance in the center of the front of the building opened into a single large room channeled into three sections by waist-high dividers. The two side sections have booths along their walls and tables next to the dividers.

The center section has two food preparation areas; the one in the back is the sushi bar, and the hibachi grill is a few feet in front of it. An island structure is in front of the hibachi, but merely holds decorative items.

The tables had white tablecloths; the lighting was subdued, and the background instrumental music, which did not appear to be Oriental, was not obtrusive. The first thing I noticed was that the place settings included chopsticks along with silverware.

At all of the other Oriental restaurants in this area you either have to ask for chopsticks or the server offers them to you; I like the Sake’s arrangement; it takes for granted that you are there because you like the food and know how to eat it.

The multi-page menu lists Drinks, Soup and Salad, Appetizers, Tempura, Sushi and Sashimi à la carte, Chef’s Combo, Dinner Entrées, Asian Kitchen (Indian, Thai, and Chinese), Lunch Entrées, and Maki Lunch Specials.

The majority of the dishes were Japanese, mostly of the sushi variety. Although I have eaten sushi once, I do not like it and decided to choose from the lunch entrees, which are cooked items.

I ordered shrimp, selecting soup instead of a salad, with fried rice and vegetables, along with a pot of hot tea. The food was served on a large, round heavy ceramic platter, with about half of it occupied by the rice.

The mound of vegetables was topped with six medium shrimp. Some of the vegetable pieces were a little large for handling with chopsticks, but I managed. The rice was a little bland, and I found that a bit of soy sauce was helpful.

I have mixed feelings about Oriental eateries with so-called fusion cuisines. Basically, places with menus that offer Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Thai may not do all of them well. I would think that a Japanese restaurant that also has Thai food would not be as good a place to order it as a Thai-only restaurant.

Sake Sushi and Hibachi is the only restaurant in the Sherando Town Centre. Based on this one visit, I would rate it several notches above merely OK, and would eat there again if I happened to be in the area for other reasons at lunch time. However, I would not make another trip all the way from home just to eat there; places that are equal or better are closer.

— Perry Crabill
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