Every Saturday when I was little, those nacho chips and unforgettable salsa beckoned us to the Dillo's door. At first I was afraid to try anything but the nachitos, with just cheese and beans. The orders stayed the same for my family for many years: Mom: one enchilada plate, no jalapenos; Dad: chicken or beef fajitas plate; my sister: vegetarian taco plate or a vegetarian chalupa Del Rio. My taste buds expanded as I got older from the "just cheese and beans," but the atmosphere never did. The cheesy (no pun intended) Mexican music buzzing in the background with the constant sizzling, those wooden birds placed in the corners of the room, the picnic blanket tablecloths. The same goes for the people. That laid back personality they all had been there to comfort you, be your friend.
With the growth of new restaurants, we branched out, but never strayed far from the Armadillo. The Channel Bowl (another great loss) was for the true Juneauites. The "crazies," looking for good greasy food and good people. The Hangar: more for family fun and partiers. But the Armadillo accommodated both. You found all kinds of people there all the time. A melting pot of true Juneau soul.
With its absence, Juneau loses some of its character, its trademark. I won't ever forget the Dillo. How could I? Some of my best memories revolve around that place, those strolls along the docks with Dad as I held my free cookie after dinner. I never really minded all of those flies buzzing around our table in the summer.
I still remember my last supper - one chalupa Del Rio with extra guacamole, please.