Tonight Kim and I headed over to Apple Valley’s Central Village where La Luz Cafe has opened replacing the now defunct Jan’s Brown Bag Deli. This restaurant was originally slated to open in April but didn’t actually open its doors until Monday of this week. While plenty of others have tried it already we wanted to wait a few days for my cold to clear (you can’t taste food when your nose is stuffed!) and for them to get a bit more settled. While I prefer to go on opening day we just couldn’t do it this time.
We walked in just after 7:30 and found two people being waited on at the registers. Kim and I looked over the menu at the house before arriving and because Kim had no voice I did the ordering for her. I originally thought that I would go with their Roasted Veggie Torta Deluxe but after arriving I figured I’d ask for suggestions to see what the employees liked instead. Once a register opened I hesitated while waiting to be prompted by the cashier to step forward. Instead of doing what I expected she put her head down and forced me to move up to the counter to get her to interact with me. While she was obviously new at this, the guy next to her was chatty and readily offered up well informed suggestions to those he was waiting on. I suggest that this young girl spend two or three days ghosting him before she has another attempt at the register. While it’s no big deal, you know — the first week issues, it would be nice if they were all as helpful as the other guy was.
Kim wanted the Chipotle Chicken Salad Melt and a Chocolate Banana Smoothie. I asked the cashier for her suggestion and after turning to look at the board and thinking for a moment, she said that her two favorites were the Chili-Lime Chicken and the Roasted Turkey and Avocado. I told her that I would take one of each. She rung us up and the total came to just over $20. Pretty reasonable for three sandwiches and a smoothie. The cashier said that she’d get the smoothie up soon while they worked on our sandwiches.
Kim moved over to their lounge area and picked up a copy of Minneapolis/St Paul Magazine and today’s Star Tribune while I sat next to it at a table. The lounge area was nice and has a flat panel hanging on the wall which was tuned to the Twins game (they lost, their streak ending at 10). The chairs look comfy and I’m sure it’s a nice place to sit if you’re there in the morning drinking some of their coffee selections. The tables and chairs, which are for the most part situated along the walls, are fairly close together and small. Later when we were eating and had three plates on our table, it was a bit crowded. I moved our table further away from the next table over and while no one was sitting there tonight, if they were I would have felt a little claustrophobic.
Kim’s smoothie took about 10 minutes to arrive and was an ice-based version rather than yogurt. I didn’t care for the drink at all as it had too much banana and not enough chocolate and the ice was too chunky for me. I prefer my smoothies to have a yogurt base so that they are creamier. Kim said it was all right but I don’t think she’ll be coming back just for smoothies in the future. Our sandwiches were out less than 10 minutes after that and when I went up to get them I was a little surprised at how lonely they looked in the middle of the large plates they were served on. I knew that you had to order, for $1.49 extra, a side salad and tortilla chips but later both Kim and I agreed that they should add them by default, after raising the prices appropriately, so that you don’t have to think about adding the option after the fact.
I sat down at the table and spent some time taking photos and then started out with Kim’s Chipotle Chicken Salad Melt. It is described on the menu as smokey-spiced (sic) chicken salad, co-jack cheese, tomato and red onion for $4.95. It is their least expensive item which range from the aforementioned $4.95 to their most expensive sandwich at $5.95 but remember that while those prices are definitely reasonable you’re only going to end up with the sandwich. I am not a chicken salad fan as it is and as such, this one just didn’t do it for me. I don’t know what it was about the sandwich that I didn’t care for (probably the fact that it’s chicken salad) but it just wasn’t right. Kim, however, disagreed and it was by far her favorite of the three sandwiches we tried tonight. Next I bit into the Roasted Turkey and Avocado which is listed as including sliced turkey, pepper-jack cheese, avocado, red onion and cilantro lime mayo for $5.50. The sandwich was pretty bland for me even though it had pepper-jack cheese and the fancy mayo. I guess it could use just a little something else to make it have some punch. While I liked it and I thought it was a decent sandwich, I certainly won’t be ordering it again. I couldn’t taste anything other than the avocado and the turkey. Finally I got to the Chili-Lime Chicken sandwich which they say is sliced chicken, jack cheese, avocado, tomato, red onion and dreamy creamy which is their avocado mayonnaise for $5.25. This sandwich was not only fantastic but it will be the single reason I return to La Luz. It was absolutely perfectly spiced and with the sweet avocado it was well balanced. To be honest, I fucking loved it and if you’re not sure of what to get at La Luz Cafe when you go, try this one I’m sure that if you like some heat in your food then this one is for you.
Aside from the sandwiches innards, I have to mention the bread. While La Luz isn’t serving 100% authentic Cuban pressed sandwiches, they are damn close and nearly picture perfect. The bread itself is a little different than what is generally accepted as proper Cuban bread, but it was amazing. The outside was just lightly crisp and the inside was soft and spongy. The bread didn’t have much flavor which is perfect as you really don’t want it to overpower the taste of the food but it definitely added some physical characteristics that made the sandwich enjoyable to eat. I am quite impressed, really.
Now, while I really liked the food I do have an issue with La Luz’s decision to advertise their Wednesday night live music as “Wednesdays After Church”. I really take offense to businesses pushing nonsecular agendas and I honestly believe its in their best interests to leave that kind of horseshit out of what they do. While it’s everyone’s own choice how they choose to run their establishment I do know of at least one prominent local blogger who refused to join us for this review because of the content of the La Luz website. Why not rename that night something else and save yourself the potential lost business?
Overall La Luz Cafe beat my expectations and while it will never attain a spot on our “Top Restaurants” listing, it is certainly worth the visit if you are in town and looking for a sandwich. If you end up going please let us know what you think below!
La Luz Cafe
15322 Galaxie Ave S
Apple Valley, MN 55124
See all the pictures from La Luz Cafe in Apple Valley on Flickr here.