Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Don Luis Cafe--Cuban and Mexican food

First let me say that I really wanted to love the Don Luis Cafe. The owner, Jorge, is very accommodating and friendly. He puts his heart into his business. The location (being the old Gardski's) has a ton of sentimental value for a lot of Abilenians.  It has been redecorated but still has the same booths and tables. Plus, it is close to my house. They are still working out some issues with training and hiring staff so the service was on the slow side but hopefully that will get resolved. I have been there twice, once for lunch and once for dinner, and though the food was okay it didn't blow me away. What I liked the best were the house-made fried cheese sticks.
House-made cheese sticks with ranch and chipotle ranch dressing

Burger with hand-cut fries
The first visit I went with two friends for lunch. There was the obligatory chips and hot sauce before the meal. The tortilla chips were a little thick for my taste and the hot sauce just average. The restaurant was in its second week of operation, so some glitches were to be expected. On that day, it was super slow service. The menu had a lot of choices, almost overwhelming in the variety.

I ordered a burger and fries since I had eaten Mexican food the night before and my friends both selected dishes from the daily specials. We also ordered some cheese sticks ($6 for 6) for an appetizer and they were quite tasty. I really enjoyed the chipotle ranch for dipping. The burger was nice and greasy. The fries were quite good. The meat patty could have been a bit thicker for a cost of $5.99. My companions found the Mexican food to be a bit bland. They did like the refried beans a lot though. I know that I enjoy Tex-Mex more than traditional Mexican because the flavors are kicked up. The lunch specials were $5.99 which is reasonable for Abilene.

Beef tostada, beef enchilada, rice & beans
My next visit was with my husband on a Tuesday evening when they serve a deep fried stuffed avocado dish. I have had this before when visiting my sister in the hill country and enjoyed it. The evening service was quicker (fewer people in the restaurant) but there were still only 3 people working. I ordered the Tuesday avocado special stuffed with chicken. It came with charro beans and rice. My husband ordered the beef fajitas. I deduct points since they didn't come out on a hot skillet but my husband liked the flavor though the portion size was on the small side for $10.50. It came with a little sour cream, a bit of guacamole, pico de gallo, two tortillas, refried beans and rice.
Stuffed deep-fried avocado with charro beans & rice

The chicken stuffed fried avocados were covered in queso and served with charro beans and rice for $10.99. Sadly, they were a disappointment. The breading was the same that was on the cheese sticks but it needed some spices to enhance the avocado. There was very little chicken and the queso was too salty. The charro beans had barbecue sauce which made them taste like ranch style beans. I was hoping for something kind of special and it just did not live up to my expectations.
Beef fajitas

Since the restaurant does serve Cuban food, including a traditional Cuban sandwich (I believe the owner is Cuban) the next time I'll order one of those dishes and hope for some more "oomph" in the food. Otherwise, I imagine I will have to continue my hunt for some really outstanding Latin food in Abilene and just go to Don Luis for appetizers and the occasional meal since they are in our neighborhood.

Don Luis Cafe 

(325) 268-4198
Open 7 days a week.

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