By Erin Wyble Newcomb
Photo courtesy of Erin Wyble Newcomb
It was a quiet Tuesday evening, hot and sunny, as my husband and I entered the Armadillo Bar & Grill. A few people sat at the bar, and one table was taken, but the outdoor seating was nearly empty. It was still early, with the restaurant just opening and servers settling into their shifts. At the door, we were greeted by owner Merle, who made a point of welcoming every customer and checking in while we ate. She was warm and smiling, with a kind of nervous energy that shows she is conscientious about all the details of her restaurant. We took a table for two tucked inside, grateful for the air conditioning, and glanced around at the orange glow of the walls, the cheerfully chipped blue chairs, and the armadillo painting hanging across from us.
Our waitress was friendly and attentive. We started with homemade tortilla chips and two dips, a spicy salsa and a creamy green tomato; these are brought to every table, along with a sampler tray of olives, chopped tomato and onion, and a spicy carrot relish. It was fresh and light, making it way too easy to fill up on chips before we even ordered. We selected the Nachos Especial for our appetizer—a delight of sour cream, gooey cheese, chunks of avocado, and bright tomato. Plus, more of those delicious chips.
My husband struggled to decide between the Crispy Fish Tacos and the Oyster Tacos, both on the specials list. The oysters turned out to not be available after all, so the decision was made for him. I went with one of my favorites—Chicken Fajitas. I always like the spectacle of ordering a dish whose components take up half the table. Both of our entrees were the highlight, with generous portions, fresh flavors, and lots of textural variety. My husband particularly appreciated the mild spice of the aioli; I enjoyed the warm, soft tortillas homemade and fresh from the oven. I would have loved to see some red onions on the plate for color and flavor, but overall, both of our dishes were well done.
For our dessert, we decided to go with the standard Fried Ice Cream. The coating on the ice cream wasn’t crispy enough, and the whipped cream and chocolate syrup made the dish a bit too sweet for our palates. While we didn’t finish our dessert, we were pleased with the rest of our meal. It’s OK to fill up on chips and skip the dessert. The Armadillo is in our back yard, so to speak, and it’s one of our favorite local restaurants. It’s a vibrant, family- friendly place with good food and a casual, fun atmosphere. By the time we left, more tables were filling up, and Merle still bustled around, making conversation and sharing a smile with everyone. We finished our date with a stroll along the Rondout, grateful for places like this that strive to revitalize an area of Kingston with so much potential. The Armadillo is one of its friendliest faces.
Armadillo is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday evenings (closed Monday). They are also open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Visit their website at www.armadillos.net or contact them at 845.339.1550 for further information. ★★★★