Food & Drink

Mexican buffet opens; Smokey Bones shuts down Fairview Heights restaurant

How many handmade chicken burritos can you eat? A new Mexican restaurant in Fairview Heights features family recipes served buffet-style.

El Niño, located at 10616 Lincoln Trail, recently opened with more than a dozen authentic Mexican dishes on the menu.

From sweet corn cake and chicken burritos to Spanish pork served with squash, the buffet offers a variety of handmade dishes.

“Everything is made fresh everyday,” owner and operator Lorena Abraham said Monday as the restaurant prepped for lunch. “Everyone is so welcome.”

Abraham and her husband, Abdalla, opened the buffet last week. It replaced their popular Peruvian restaurant, Fairview Lounge. Lorena will manage the kitchen, but a Mexican chef will do the cooking this time around, giving the Abdalla’s more time to focus on family.

Lunch will be available for $8.95 per person from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Dinner will cost $13.95 per person and will be served from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

A look at the new Mexican buffet in Fairview Heights. Cara Anthony

The buffet will also offer wood-fired chicken, lamb and pork ribs to-go.

Late-night nachos will be served seven days while the bar is open. Bar and gas will continue to be available from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays.

Lorena Abdalla will offer Peruvian catering services by request.

For more information about El Niño or the couple’s catering business, call 618-394-8904.

Smokey Bones suddenly closed. Company hasn’t said why.

Smokey Bones Bar and Fire Grill in Fairview Heights has suddenly closed.

The restaurant was shutdown last week without warning by the restaurant chain’s corporate office, according to a manager who answered the phone March 14.

“Smokey Bones is both disappointed and sad to announce the closing of our restaurant at Fairview Heights location,” the company wrote in a prepared statement March 14. “We also thank our amazing team members in Fairview Heights for their commitment to deliver great food and experiences, and we will work hard to place them in another restaurant. “

Smokey Bones isn’t the first popular Fairview Heights to suddenly close.

This file photo shows patrons arriving at a Smokey Bones restaurant in Orlando, Fla. The Smokey Bones restaurant in Fairview Heights shut down this week. PETER COSGROVE AP

Logan’s Roadhouse in Fairview Heights suddenly closed its doors in 2015. The western-style steakhouse chain had built and opened the restaurant in 2007 on an out lot of St. Clair Square at 51 Lincoln Highway.

Popular Swansea restaurant changes its name

You’ll find American favorites, not Greek food at one of the most popular dinners in the area.

That’s why Olympika Bar & Grill in Swansea recently changed its name to “Papa Mendi’s Bar and Grill.” The previous name caused confusion.

The restaurant, located at 127 N. Belt E., will continue to operate under the same ownership.

Olympika Bar & Grill moved from Belleville to Swansea in 2015.

The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. For more information, call 618-416-1656.

Cara Anthony covers restaurants and retail for the Belleville News-Democrat, where she works to answer readers’ questions about restaurant openings, business closures and the best new dishes in the metro-east. She attended Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville and grew up in East St. Louis.
Support my work with a digital subscription