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“Excellence in Galena”
Review of Ayalas

Ranked #45 of 63 Restaurants in Galena
Cuisines: Mexican
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Highland Park, Illinois, United States
Level 6 Contributor
135 reviews
97 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Excellence in Galena”
Reviewed December 29, 2013 via mobile

I was happy with their food. Steak tacos were tasty as we're their chips. Salsa was watery and needs a kick. Buffet is good and very reasonable at $11 for prime rib and more. Owner and chef Juan Dorantes makes this restaurant a must eat place. He is so nice, kid friendly and accommodating. I'll eat here any time.

Visited December 2013
1 Thank Jeff M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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61 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Byron, Minnesota
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“First time I've ever walked out of restaurant after tasting my entree”
Reviewed December 2, 2013

I'd like to start this review by saying that I am not a hard-to-please customer or even one to complain much about a restaurant's food or service, but my experience at Ayalas was so bad that I have to say something. This is the first time that I have EVER sent back an entree and walked out of the restaurant, but this food and service was so bad that I felt I had no choice.

I chose Ayalas based on the recommendation of a Galena local and the fact that I was craving some prime rib and it was mentioned in an ad as a Saturday special. When we arrived, we were greeted and seated promptly, but we immediately noticed that the place was practically empty on a night where the rest of Galena's Main Street restaurants were bustling with customers. Despite the large, pleasant, mostly vacant dining room we were seated in an area between the bar and kitchen where the primary decor was flashing screens for Illinois Lotto games...when a restaurant has to supplement their income with proceeds from lottery sales, it's an early red flag.

We started out with an appetizer, chips and jalapeno cheese dip, which was OK; the chips were quite good, the cheese dip tasted canned, but not terrible. Next came the "bread," which consisted of two rather dried-up dinner rolls that you could purchase in an 8-pack at Walmart for $2. Next, came the salad, which was wilted and drowning in a bad raspberry vinaigrette (head up the street to Fried Green Tomatoes if you want to experience a great raspberry vinaigrette). Then the real horror showed up: the "prime" rib. We both ordered it, and I've never seen anything quite like it. It may have once left a butcher shop as a prime rib, but this gray piece of gristly meat otherwise bore little resemblance to any prime rib I've ever eaten. It was definitely not slow roasted, but instead boiled. There was no au jus, as it and the sad pile of mashed potatoes it was served with, were swimming in luke warm water copiously filled with droplets of fat. Two bites of it were all I could stand.

At this point, it was quite obvious we were not happy with our meals (we weren't making noise, we just sat there not eating it) waiting for on of the waitstaff to return. They avoided us at all costs, and after sitting for several minutes, we had to get up and flag them down to send our meals back. The owner/chef then came out to talk to us. He was friendly enough and showed ample concern, but said he check the steaks and found them to be adequate. After questioning him about how it was prepared, he admitted that the meat had been boiled rather than roasted. He offered to fix us something else, but we declined, paid for our appetizer and drinks, and took our appetites up the street to One Eleven for a much better meal.

Ayalas has some good reviews here from some time ago, which makes me wonder if some major change has occurred in ownership, menu, or staff. Whatever the reason, this is the last restaurant I would go back to on a return trip to delightful Galena.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank mbassbyron
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Very Disappointed”
Reviewed October 14, 2013

We visited Galena this past weekend, (Saturday, October 12, 2013). We were a bit skeptical about going into a place where there were no other cutomers for lunch but the advertising board outside Ayalas listed great Mexican food and that was exactly what we wanted. The host was very nice when bringing us to our table, explaining they had a buffet or we could order from the menu. We ordered the guacamole, which was bitter and tasted "off" - too much lime perhaps. We were next served a rather soggy salad, drenched in some type of raspberry, too-sweet dressing with half-baked dinner rolls on the side. The main course, chicken fajitas, (which, by the way, was the only thing on the menu close to being Mexican food) arrived on a plate, not a cast-iron servig dish as expected, filled with greasy oil that had taken over the onions and peppers. The chicken was dry and coated with a strange tasting seasoning. All-in-all, a very bad and expensive dining experience. On top of it, it took an hour and a half to be served all three "courses". Oh, and the buffet - two people came in while we were waiting for our food and ordered the buffett - mac and cheese and very fatty meat was what I could see on their plates - what a disaster and STILL not Mexican food. What's up with that???

  • Visited October 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank Lu B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubuque, Iowa
Level 6 Contributor
340 reviews
270 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 98 helpful votes
“Corner view, mucho excellente”
Reviewed September 27, 2013 via mobile

Trying something new and different in Galena could not be more pleasant than at Ayalas. From the inexpensive quality beer, huge wine selection and excellent menu items of Mexican and Italian flavor, we were surprised by superb quality of food and extraordinary service. Folks need to give this hidden secret a chance in Galena. General Bob

Thank Robert F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
11 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Ayalas Offers a Warm Dining Experience”
Reviewed September 19, 2013

Visited Ayalas for our anniversary and was charmed by the attention and ambiance. The owner came out to talk to us personally and the drinks and entrees were well prepared.My husband insisted it was the best ceviche he's ever tasted. This is an elegant restaurant that's a step above the typical Mexican eatery.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank rozwrite
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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