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updated: 5/29/2013 10:51 AM

Filling Station a tried-and-true refueling stop in St. Charles

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  • You'll need several napkins if you order the High Octane Burger from the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles.

       You'll need several napkins if you order the High Octane Burger from the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The bar at the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles stays open after the dining room closes.

       The bar at the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles stays open after the dining room closes.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The Onion Loaf from the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles is a filling starter. Try it with ranch dip.

       The Onion Loaf from the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles is a filling starter. Try it with ranch dip.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • End your meal with a classic Brown Cow at the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles.

       End your meal with a classic Brown Cow at the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The patio at the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles is a popular refueling spot along the Fox River.

       The patio at the Filling Station in downtown St. Charles is a popular refueling spot along the Fox River.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
By Jennifer Olvera
Daily Herald Correspondent

Celebrating a 25-year run throughout the month of June, The Filling Station Pub & Grill is a longtime, family-friendly catchall in St. Charles. Housed in a former gas station -- hence the name -- at 300 W. Main St., it's the kind of spot where crazy stuff hangs on the walls. When it's warm, the umbrella table-topped, tree-shaded patio is among the most jovial haunts in town.

As for the menu, it's pretty by the books.

We started with the mozzarella sticks with marinara, which were exactly what you'd expect. More memorable is the lightly battered, fork-and-knife onion loaf, which we gladly plunked into a bowl of ranch. Other starters include fried calamari, chips and salsa and armadillo eggs (aka jalapeno poppers, stuffed with cream cheese or cheddar).

There are plenty of salads to choose from, if you're so inclined, be it cashew chicken, Caesar or a meat- and cheese-loaded chef salad. If it's everything but the kitchen sink you prefer, the 57 Thunderbird with mesquite-grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, sprouts, cucumber, croutons, egg, avocado and fresh pineapple and kiwi is your best bet. Pair any of these with a cup of homemade soup or turkey chili, topped with green onions and cheddar.

Sandwiches and burgers are the main thrust among mains, and they're served with fries, homemade potato salad, slaw or chips. The so-called "High Octane" burger is a respectable enough number, its half-pound patty flame-broiled and topped with cheddar, provolone and Swiss cheeses as well as sautéed mushrooms, green peppers and grilled onions. (Have plenty of napkins on hand.) Naturally, there's a classic bacon-cheddar burger and a patty melt, too.

As for the other handhelds, choose from the likes of a Philly cheesesteak built from filet, smoked-on-site barbecue brisket, and a BLT. Admittedly, the big cheese -- a three-cheese grilled cheese with tomato -- is tempting. Ditto the version that adds in bacon and Bermuda onion.

Instead, though, we went the house specialty route and ordered sizzling chicken fajitas. It's plenty of food for the price, and it comes with all the fixings: onions, mushrooms and green peppers, plus pico de gallo, cheddar and sour cream.

Post 4:30 p.m., a handful of dinners -- like broasted chicken, chicken Parmesan and the Studebaker, grilled strip steak with sautéed 'shrooms and a loaded baked potato -- are available.

Watch for new items to roll out in coming weeks, including Southwestern-style wild salmon with pico de gallo and mashed potatoes and a burger topped with fire-grilled jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and spicy avocado ranch sauce.

For dessert, a black cow and chocolate shake were our welcome throwbacks, and they perfectly suited the setting.

If you're coming with a family in tow, arrive early, as the place fills up and gets more raucous as the night wears on. Occasional live music takes place on site. June will also usher in monthlong contests, with winnings that include bikes and iPads.

Interested in watching the game? There are umpteen TVs on hand, most all of them tuned to sports. There's a full bar, with a handful of options on draft.

Service is chummy, and the overall vibe is light. It's just the kind of place you head to for a laid-back time with family or friends.

• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not review restaurants it cannot recommend.

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