J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Preview to Doc's Cantina

*Updated 12/27/2016: Restaurant is currently CLOSED*

For a girl who loves to eat, there is no better birthday surprise than winning a free dinner for four to the soft opening at Doc's Cantina, the long anticipated replacement of Tumbleweed down by the River.  I brought my husband and parents along for a nice Saturday treat.  It was my parents' first Mexican food experience and my mom still uses the Vietnamese way to flag down the waiter, with a raised hand and a "woo woo, hey hey" (since she can't speak English :).

Here's your preview ahead of the restaurant's April 5th opening!

The Building
The old subdued Tumbleweed building is now replaced by a brightly colored building that brings to mind a more tropical setting.

I can't say I'm a big fan of the tacky colors that make this building stand out like a sore thumb, but once I step inside, it makes sense.  The walls are cheerfully decorated with flowery and Mexican themed murals, bright ceilings and sparkling lights.  I immediately like the casual and cheerful atmosphere.

The Menu  
Expect to see soups (corn, chicken or pork), 6 types of sandwiches, an assortment of taco choices, traditional Mexican must haves (burrito, fajitas, enchiladas, mole, etc.), seafood entrees, 8 brunch items (think chorizo and eggs), salads and a variety of side dishes.  The menu also boasts an impressive collection that includes bourbon, beer, cocktails, margaritas, and wine.  Most of the items on the menu are reasonably priced around $9 - $12, the more expensive menu items are around $15 - $20, commonly expected of seafood dishes and entrees.  Complete menu here.

The Service
Friendly and attentive staff, but with all new restaurants, expect a few stumbles here and there.  Our food came out quickly.

The Food
The more accurate description of the food should be Modern-Mex rather than the Mex-Mex boldly painted on the building that conjures up images of authentic Mexican food.  The food is a mix of traditional dishes and dishes with a modern American twist.  The salmon and grapefruit, burger on brioche buns, the bacon wrapped hot dog are a few examples of the twist.

Items we ordered:
Freshly made salsa and chips
Shrimp ceviche
Mexi Burger Sliders
Mexi Burger Sliders
Chicken Tinga
Baja Fish Tacos
Lychee Paloma
The complimentary chips and salsa were freshly made and free as a starter at each table.  My husband loved his Mexi Burgers with bacon, cheese, and pico on brioche buns.  A good value for three sliders at $12.  My parents enjoyed their chicken tinga and fish tacos, each got a set of three tacos that came with rice and refried beans.  Both were good but the chicken tinga sauce could benefit from a little more flavor and heat while the fish tacos need more flourish.  The shrimp ceviche (I ordered corvina) lacked the citrus that makes it so distinctive and very pricey at $12 for such a small portion, with no chips or anything to go with it.  The lychee paloma packed a punch, so watch out!

Over all, an enjoyable food experience (thought not spectacular), for now I'll reserve the final verdict until subsequent visits to try other items on the menu.  The great location, decent prices, good sized menu, and drink options will keep me coming back, especially on a warm sunny day after a long walk across the bridge or a leisure bike ride.  It's definitely a step up from Tumbleweed food and a welcomed addition to the Waterfront.

Doc's Catina opens to the public on April 5, 2016.

Doc's Cantina
1201 River Road
Louisville, KY
502-tacos32 (822-6732)
Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Parking: Street or Waterfront Park.
$3 private parking across River Road.  Bring the receipt and Doc's will take $3 off your final bill.