Durham's downtown food offerings expanded last week with the opening of a new spot on Main Street, Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas. The spot, which offers lunch and dinner, brands itself as a blend of "South American and American South." We'll have a full review soon, but in the meantime, I checked it out for lunch.
The $9.50 option for two empanadas and a side seemed to be the ticket for a midday meal that wouldn't leave me comatose. I ordered one meat empanada (blackened chicken with roasted peppers and Yukon Gold potatoes) and one vegetarian (quinoa, black beans, sweet corn and pepperjack cheese). They arrived shortly after I sat down with my iced mint mate (MAH-tay), a tea-like South American staple. The cool, slightly bitter beverage was delicious and refreshing, with enough flavor to be tasty without overpowering the food itself.
The empanadas are not too big—a little shorter than the length of my hand—but two of them should fill you up quickly. (A single one is $3.50, if you're just looking for a good snack.) The pastry on both was a beautiful golden brown, and the fillings were savory, even blends.
Though Luna has many meat offerings, their menu
is very vegetarian-friendly, boasting far more than a wimpy garden salad. They're also careful to note which dishes are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.
There are a few items, mostly sides, that aren't listed on Luna's online menu. One of these—and one that flexes Luna's "American South" muscle—was a pimento-hominy "mac" and cheese that I chose as my side. It was fantastic: The cheese was smooth and creamy, and the hominy tender. The dish as a whole had a slight spicy bite.
Because I love and
hate myself, I guess, I went for a dessert empanada, too. Filled with chocolate ganache, marshmallow and walnuts, it arrived crusted in cinnamon and sugar and leaning against a generous scoop of Parlour's vanilla ice cream. You probably could
share this with someone, maybe if you love them very much, but you'll want to relish every warm morsel as your own.
Throughout my lunch, I thought about how Durham could still really, really
use a cheap, no-frills spot that isn't a gross chain. Tip and all, this more-or-less modest meal set me back $25. This probably won't become a regular spot for me, but as an occasional splurge? I'm glad to have Luna around.
Luna is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and serves dinner Monday through Saturday from 5–10 p.m.