On an otherwise quiet Saturday, Missy and I decided to take a drive into the interior of the state to see Babcock State Park (where I hadn’t been since I was a kid) and eat at one of Missy’s favorite restaurants.
Babcock is most well-known for the working gristmill; you can buy corn meal from the mill at the visitor’s center. I should note that it is very pretty — as are most of our state parks — and well worth a visit. The woman running the little gift shop in the visitor’s center could not have been friendlier.
DiOGi’s is a Salvadoran restaurant (Mexican with a little extra kick) in Fayetteville. Business has caused them to move out of downtown to a repurposed convenience store about a 100 yards from the Rte. 16/US 19 intersection that is Fayetteville. They’ve done a nice job of making the building their own.
Missy and I got there around 6 on a Saturday and beat the crowds by about half an hour. The meal starts, as it does at every Mexican place I’ve ever been (and probably every Salvadoran place too), with chips and salsa. The chips were good (warm and not greasy) and the salsa was solid if a little bland (Missy here: I like the salsa – it has good flavor, with lots of cilantro). DiOGi’s seems to be going for more of a fresh taste, as opposed to hot or garlicky. Still, I was eating the salsa well into the meal, so I couldn’t have any complaints. We ordered some guac to go with the chips. DiOGi’s guac is thick and chunky with hard-boiled egg; it’s very good, though again not crazy spicy.
We also ordered an appetizer of the chicharones which are unbelieveably good if unhealthy. They are nibble-sized fried pork skins served piping hot with a bit of lime.
Imagine a plate of bacon chunks, but give the bacon a richer, smokier flavor. They came with a chipotle lime mayo that was good but unnecessary. I highly recommend the chicharones, but also recommend a big group to share the plate as they are filling. And, as I mentioned, they are fried pork skins.
Missy ordered her favorite: the carnitas platter. She asked for a side salad as one of her sides and it looked pretty:
DiOGi’s menu describes the carnitas dinner as tender chunks of seasoned pork deep fried with onions & served with 4 flour tortillas, guacamole, sour cream & pico de gallo.
The pork is juicy and bursting with flavor and the onions seem to have carmelized and absorbed all of that delicious pork flavor. The serving is huge (they cost $17, so it should be); it was enough for Missy to take home nearly two thirds for lunch the next day. (We’ve done this before and they keep very well, unlike the chicharones which you have to eat there.)
I went “healthy” with the ahi tuna tacos. The tuna is seared and served with wasabi cabbage, wasabi crema & fresh avocado.
The wasabi wasn’t overpowering and the cabbage had a nice crunch. The menu claimed they were corn tortillas, but they tasted like flour to me. It was a fresh mix of textures and flavors, though I have to admit Crabbi Patti’s in Ripley had better ones (maybe it was the decision to serve the tuna fully raw in Ripley). The tacos came with two sides; I chose the refried black beans (fine but not that different from anyone else’s refried black beans) and fried plantains (sweeter and more banana-like than I’m used to with plantains).
No room for dessert — see the earlier discussion about the chicharones — but DiOGi’s has an exceptional bread pudding. They took away the Newcastle on tap much to Missy’s dismay, but the local Bridge Brew Works offers are nice.
One last thing to mention, DiOGi’s is very dog-friendly. The capitilization of DOG in the name is not an accident and they say Diogi is Salvadoran for Dog. Your furry pal is welcome on the deck and will get “a cool bowl of water and a complimentary doggie taco.”
They are located at 312 N. Court Street, but they are seriously impossible to miss to your left as you take the main road into Fayetteville. The website, which seems up to date is http://www.diogismexicangrill.com/index.html and they are also on facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/DiOGis/69535519035#!/pages/DiOGis/69535519035
Is it Unique?
Yep. Really, it’s that easy. This could be my favorite place in a town filled with great places to eat (Cathedral Cafe, the original Pies and Pints, Secret Sandwich Society). I’ve never had a less than stellar meal there and any place that loves dogs gets a thumbs up with me.