Raymundo "Ramon" Otero, he of Ramon's El Dorado Restaurant, grew up in El Salto, Mexico, in a rural area where, as a child, he tended sheep and goats on the mountaintop where his family lived. He learned to cook from his mother, who for 25 years operated a restaurant there. After he arrived in Collinsville in August 1967, Otero opened Ramon's in an old gas station. It had two tables. The restaurant has expanded considerably since and features live music, a bar and the basic Mexican staples. But it's the guacamole that packs them in. Made fresh every day -- none of that store-bought stuff -- the guac is as authentic as anything you'd find south of the border: spicy but not too spicy, mashed to just the right consistency and with real avocados (of course), not the freaky processed type that some restaurants use. And the chips are fresh, often (but not always) served piping hot. Combined, they're the perfect appetizer.
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