Pulled pork burrito.
The place is called The Roadhouse, so calibrate your expectations accordingly and everything will be all right.
Located about two miles west of Secor Metropark on Central Avenue, The Roadhouse is a magnet for bikers, locals, and folks looking for a low-key, unpretentious restaurant and bar to grab a bite and a beer and maybe listen to some blues.
Featuring an outdoor patio area that includes a satellite bar and a number of picnic tables, the restaurant has been in its Richfield Center location for 70 years, but has operated under different names.
The interior is simple, with the usual sports-bar beer-ad posters, a few TVs, a dance floor and an area for live bands (which The Roadhouse has every week), a bar, and a seating area.
Our advice is to zero in on the homemade items on the menu, which are standouts, and veer away from the more generic offerings.
Address: 11535 Central Ave., Richfield Center
Hours: The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; it opens for breakfast at 8 a.m. Sunday.
Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: facebook.com and search for The Roadhouse.
The chicken rice soup ($2.50/$3.75) was loaded with chunks of chicken, celery, corn, rice, carrots, and other vegetables. One of my dining companions had been battling a cold and this was the perfect tonic. Not too salty, it was hearty enough to be a meal on its own.
The Roadhouse serves giant halfpound burgers ($7.50-$9.95) that are fresh and loaded with toppings. Options include grilled onion, bacon, jalapenos, mushrooms, barbecue sauce, and a number of cheeses.
Ours was covered in pepper jack cheese, which had some bite and played well on our taste buds with the grilled burger.
Tuesday’s special menu is Mexican food and it included a pulled pork burrito ($9.50, including refried beans, Spanish rice, lettuce, and tomatoes), which managed to combine a barbecue vibe with something south of the border. It was a winner, but unfortunately the beans were bland.
We also ordered the chips and salsa to sample The Roadhouse’s homemade salsa. It was most excellent, coming in two levels of spiciness that were neither too dull nor overwhelmingly hot. Chunky and fresh with flavors that balance out well, Mexican restaurants around town might want to steal the recipe.
A return trip wasn’t quite so satisfying due to the rather pedestrian nature of the meals. My grilled chicken breast ($9.95) was just OK, but I could have made it at home. It was dry and served with frozen broccoli and onion rings that clearly were also frozen.
The half rack of ribs ($11.95) featured a sauce that we felt was too sweet. Our waitress said she didn’t think it was made by The Roadhouse staff. The ribs themselves were loaded with meat and were of a high quality, but the sauce stole their thunder.
It should be noted that The Roadhouse is a shot-and-a-beer kind of a place and if you’re into imported or craft beers this is not your kind of bar. There were only four beers on tap and all were domestics.
Daily specials are featured throughout the week and food is available for carry-out. Breakfast is served on Sundays beginning at 8 a.m.
The wait staff was friendly and the overall vibe of the place was laid back. It’s the kind of restaurant where you can settle into a booth wearing a flannel shirt and jeans and have a solid meal and hash out the events of the day without any vestiges of hipster cool or pretension interfering with your reverie.