Mosaic / Reviews / October 31, 2012

Mexican done right at Quick Sam’s Food to Go

Inside the Mexican convenience store Quick Sam’s, located on 275 South Academy St. (Jason Deschamps/TKS)

Quick Sam’s Food to Go does not have a promising exterior.

It is named for a gas station convenience store and is located a block from a graveyard, with iron bars over the windows and a sign outside advertising hot dogs, burgers and French fries. However, simply wandering inside the building can convince one of the authenticity of this shockingly good Mexican restaurant.

There are shelves cluttering the entire building with spices, prayer candles, pastries and piñatas — not to mention a whole host of products unidentifiable to most people who have never found themselves in a Spanish-speaking country. In the corner by the two tables patrons eat at is a walk-in refrigerator filled with tortillas, dried and fresh meat and cheese. One can see the chef walk into it to pull out the food to prepare meals. Behind these tables are boxes of Mexican Coca Cola and Pepsi and a shelf of obscure DVDs and CDs in Spanish.

The food not only compliments this air of unexpected authenticity, but exceeds it. Crispy, homemade chips are brought out with three kinds of salsa so spicy, flavorful and fresh tasting they could serve as an entire meal themselves. Especially recommended is the green salsa, though all three are made using locally grown products. This quality is most readily apparent in the cilantro of the green salsa.

Entrees are made with handmade, fresh tortillas which are tossed in the back of the kitchen, and they taste about as carefully and newly prepared. The cheese in the vegetarian taco is rich and creamy, the tomatoes crisp and juicy, tasting as though they were picked on the same day. Highly recommended is the chicken burrito. The meat is cooked perfectly, both juicy and flavorful with a slight smoky edge to it, and is perfectly complemented by the crispness of the freshly made tortilla that holds it. Of special note is the interestingly non-“TexMex” flavor of the food — though most Mexican food in the states, no matter the quality, is typically greasy, Quick Sam’s tastes and feels simply fresh, healthy and filling.

Jose Hernandos, who has now owned the establishment for two years, said, “Quick Sam’s gets a lot of Knox students through the doors,” and when asked how he felt about the Galesburg business community responded that he appreciates being a member.

Quick Sam’s Food to Go cannot be recommended enough. Freshman Victoria Baldwin, who has resided in Peru, Costa Rica and Panama for extended periods of times and intends to major in Spanish, loves the restaurant.

“I once had Mexican food so good I thought I would start crying. I did not ever think I would feel that way again … Quick Sam’s is a Mexican oasis in the flatlands of America,” she said. As a testament to the quality of the food, when asked if she would recommend the restaurant to others, she responded, “Only if I like them.”

Tags:  food mexican food quick sam's food to go restaurant

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  • John Williams

    I need to go! I had no idea this place had decent Mexican food! Thanks TKS and Emily Madden for informing me!

  • Mattie Gulyash

    The place is actually named “El Jarochito,” which has to do with the Veracruz roots of one of the workers. They are lovely, generous people who have put up with my Food Justice project for far too long. If you’re in a pinch & you need some onions or tomatillos or a dozen eggs, you need only go as far as El Jarochito. Do check this place out!

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