ALTO — Miss Mollie’s Diner sits along a main road in the heart of small town Alto.

The outside is unassuming, but the inside exudes Southern charm. I was immediately greeted, and when I said I had never been there before, the staff was gracious and kind. Opting out of the buffet, I chose to peruse the lunch menu.

It was difficult to choose just a few items from the menu, but I ended up with chips and salsa, chicken quesadilla and chilli cheese fries for appetizers.

The chips and salsa were good. I always thought I disliked salsas that were heavily tomato-based, but salsa gurus like Mollie’s Diner are convincing me otherwise. The heavy tomato flavor is accented by a mouthwatering spice and a light, cool cilantro flavor on a bed of homemade chips.

The chicken quesadilla was astonishingly good. The tortilla was perfectly crispy and fluffy. The cheese was deliciously stringy, and the chicken was flavorful and moist. Together it makes a thick combination I wasn’t expecting from an appetizer quesadilla in a tiny American diner. It is served with a side of salsa, and I will say it was most definitely made to be dipped. The spicy tomato brings out the creamy cheese and accents the chicken while being soaked up in the tortilla.

The chili cheese fries, however, were a bit of a disappointment. I enjoyed the dish overall. The fries were small and well cooked, if a little greasy. The combination of the cheese and bacon and ranch is always nice. However, the cheese was a little darker than I would have liked, the bacon bits were small and not worth a $2 upcharge, and there was no chili or meat to speak of.

The patty melt is one of the two main dishes I chose to sample, and it was very good. The ground beef patty smothered in Swiss cheese and grilled onions was delicious. But perhaps the best part of Mollie’s patty melt is that the toast is actual buttery Texas Toast. It makes the whole sandwich come together.

The Mollie was absolutely incredible. The patty was cooked to perfection, and the mayonnaise, Monterrey jack cheese and grilled onions were nestled between a toasted sourdough bun. The bun and the seasoning really changed things. The sweetness mixed with the savory created a flavor package I was impressed with.

Overall, Mollie’s was a great experience. Almost every item was wonderful, and the service and prices were very agreeable. I am excited to try the breakfast menu on my next visit.

Miss Mollie’s Diner is at 201 San Antonio Road in Alto and is open from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily plus 5-8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Olive Waldorf’s email address is foodcritic@lufkindailynews.com.