Over on Main Street in Durham, you’ll find the recently opened Luna Rotisserie and Empanadas. I had noticed it earlier in the year and mentally bookmarked it for a future visit. I’m a huge fan of Peruvian chicken and the Mami Nora’s in the area so I wanted to see what Luna was about. But make no mistake, that while the food may be similar, Luna presents a whole different experience!
From the outside, Luna impresses you with its stylish slate-blue restaurant front. Artistic signage in a neat calligraphy overhead, the interior is just as nicely done as the outside. The space is longish with a bar to the back left, common table down the middle, booths to your right and lights strung overhead. With the smell of roast meats wafting through the air, it’s a wonderfully cozy environment for a date or dinner.
We grab a seat at a booth and poke through the menu as a first-timer. Thankfully it’s short with an assortment of Latin American appetizers, roast meats, grain bowls and interesting sides! For those of you that are gluten-free, there seems to be a LOT on the menu at Luna for you. I order up the arepas appetizer for the table along with the blackened pulled chicken with citrus herb simmer sauce.
As we wait for the food to come out, a look around the dining space shows that Luna is pretty popular with all its customers on a Thursday night. And I can understand why, given prices here. Apps and mains are all in the $10 – $15 which is really reasonable for downtown Durham. That’s about the same price as a cocktail at one of the bars in the area, eh? Our arepas come out and it’s apparently a Colombian arepa. Basically a toasted masa (corn) disk with meats, guacamole and cotija cheese sprinkled on top. And they are quite good showing off a crisp, seared bottom with soft savory meat on top. The arepas appetizer comes with four different meats: chicken, brisket, carnitas and bean. Very similar to what’s called sopes in some Mexican eateries.
My main of pulled chicken, maduros and jicama salad looks great, lots of rich colors and textures on the plate. The chicken and maduros are solid, but I wish the chicken had a bit more spice on it based upon the engaging description! And the jicama reminds me of a basic crunchy slaw which makes for a nice side. Overall I found the food at Luna to be decent but not quite spectacular, but I’ll admit that to me, Latin American food is more about the basics as comfort food. And while I wanted to try out their namesake empanadas, I never made it so maybe next visit. Service for the evening got off to a slow start but picked up as the night went on so no problems there.
Overall I felt the Luna experience was good all around but not quite memorable. With its great decor, solid food and decent prices you could certainly do far worse and I could see Luna being a nice alternative dining choice for a night at the DPAC. Because while it may not blow away your taste-buds, it’s a good experience with good food and an excellent space.