90 miles south of Key West Florida lies the largest island in the Caribbean. The island of Cuba. Cuba is home to more than 11 million people and their culture has a rich culinary history.
Cuban food is a blend of Taino, African, Spanish, and Caribbean flavors fused together to create a culinary experience like no other. Rice and beans are a staple of Cuban Cuisine, but we are not talking some plain old rice and beans. The rice in Cuban Cuisine is mixed with seasoned Black Beans, sometimes served on the side or mixed together, either way, you cannot go wrong.
Rice and beans might be the base of Cuban dishes, but the meat is definitely a highlight. Whether it be roasted pork, grilled steak, or marinated chicken, there is something for everyone. If you are thinking sides, then look no further than Tostones Twice Fried Plantains or Fried Yuca.
All this talk of Cuban food brings us to the Don Luis Restaurants here in Abilene, Texas. The restaurant is owned and run by Jorge Labrador, who hails from Havana Cuba. Jorge brings the flavor of this Caribbean Island to Abilene. At a young age, Jorge was trained to cook by his mother and grandmother. Jorge and his family make everything fresh in their kitchen daily. One thing that stands out when eating at Don Luis is the attention Jorge puts into the restaurant. He can be seen serving drinks, bringing food to the tables, and talking with the customers. All this attention makes you feel like you are eating with family.
If you have not had Cuban food up to this point, then Don Luis is the place to start. To start, you must try the Fried Yucca. Yucca, or “Cassava”, is a root vegetable and used widely in tropics. Don Luis lightly breads the Yucca and fries them to a golden perfection. The Fried Yucca are light and tender and are served with two dipping sauces. There are several choices for Cuban entrees. Your best bet is to go for The Cuban Tour. The Cuban Tour lets you try several items in one entree. You are served two grilled pork steaks with onions and peppers, chicken and potatoes in a savory gravy, white rice with black beans and a Papa Rellena, which is mashed potatoes stuffed with meat and spices and then deep fried. The Cuban Tour will leave you completely full and satisfied while giving you a good taste of what Cuban cuisine has to offer.
For those of you who are familiar with Cuban food, they offer daily specials featuring some traditional dishes. Ropa Vieja which is shredded beef and congri (white rice and black beans) is on the menu as well as Picadillo (seasoned ground beef cooked with potatoes). Another favorite on the menu is Victec Vuelta Vuelta (Pork steaks topped with caramelized onions served over white rice and pinto beans). You cannot go wrong with any of these choices.
Although we have talked mainly about the Cuban side, Don Luis also offers Mexican dishes. Most of the Mexican dishes are original creations by Don Louis’ Chef and there is no shortage of choices. Other menu items include steak, seafood, and burgers. If you stop by, say hi to Jorge and enjoy what he and his family have to offer.
Don Luis was originally located in Buffalo Gap but relocated to Abilene in 2014 and is located at 3370 N 1st Street. Since the opening Don Luis has done so well they have expanded and now have 3 restaurants. The original in N 1st, a second location at 4534 Buffalo Gap Rd and Don Luis Express located at 273 N. Judge Ely. You can find more information at facebook.com/DonLuisAbilene.