I went to Ione to take some pictures on September 27 for the feature article about city manager Jon Hanken, so my mother and I took the opportunity to pick up dinner at Don Luis Mexican Restaurant on Main Street.

Before we left, I was able to order from Don Luis online by scanning a QR code that was posted on the Don Luis Facebook page. Scanning this QR code opened up the ChowNow site, which is a food ordering site that is commission-free, unlike some of its competitors.

I ordered food for both of us, and I found the order process to be painless. I ordered a tostada dinner with guacamole instead of meat, and my mother ordered an enchilada dinner. The website said our meal would be ready in about 25 minutes, which gave us plenty of time to drive to Ione and take pictures on Main Street before we stopped at Don Luis.

The restaurant was open for indoor dining at reduced capacity, and the only outdoor dining was on their back patio, which I didn’t see. I had to go inside to pick up our food, and I found that I was behind at two other pairs of people. One pair was waiting to be seated and the other was waiting to pick up food. A couple of other pairs of people came in after me, which made social distancing hard to do. Most people had masks, but some didn’t.

The interior of the restaurant is the darkest I’ve seen in a long time. The dark wood wall paneling was hard to see in the low lighting, and there were several TV screens on the wall showing the Sunday Night Football game. People in front of me were invited to take any seat by the harried employee who was only one of two servers I saw.

I waited for 10 minutes while people in front of me were served. When I got to the front table, the employee showed me the receipt because ChowNow doesn’t prompt you to type your name. The receipt was correct and our meals were already on the table in several Styrofoam containers within a plastic bag. Once I confirmed the plastic bag was mine, the employee gave me the bag with a weary smile on her face, and I was out of the restaurant in 30 seconds.

Don Luis Mexican Restaurant tostada dinner box 1

My Meal

The tostada dinner has two medium-sized tostadas, each one in its own box. One box contained the tostada with Spanish rice and refried beans with melted shredded cheese on top. The second box contained the second tostada with some extra refried beans without cheese on top. Each tostada had guacamole, about a dozen diced tomatoes, lettuce, and shredded cheese sitting on top of a fried flour tortilla.

As I ate through all the food, I was pleased that everything was fresh. The vegetables were crisp. The guacamole was thick and spicy but not overwhelming. The rice was light and not very spicy. And I tasted and felt individual beans in my mouth, not just mush that I often find when I eat refried beans.

I started my meal by eating through some of the tostada vegetables, rice, and beans to uncover the tortillas. I discovered the tortillas were still dry, but not so dry that they weren’t pliable. So, with each tostada, I put the rest of the ingredients on top of the flour tortilla, picked it up from the bottom, folded it in half, and ate it like a taco.

Mom’s Meal

My mother’s chicken enchilada dinner included two enchiladas topped with red sauce and melted cheese, Spanish rice, and refried beans topped with melted cheese. After she took a few bites of her enchilada, she bit into a piece of gristle. Instead of being unhappy about it, my mother said she expected some gristle because the chicken tasted fresh and flavorful.

She noted that though she could taste the red sauce, it wasn’t that spicy, which she appreciated. And she echoed my thoughts about the rice and beans. My mother also liked that there wasn’t too much food, so she was able to eat the entire meal without having to remember that there were leftovers in the refrigerator.

Don Luis Mexican Restaurant chicken enchilada dinner

The Verdict

If you’re sensitive to spicy food but you still love Mexican food, then Don Luis is a good Mexican restaurant for you. If you particularly like fresh Mexican food that is clearly several steps above what you find at Taco Bell, then you should try Don Luis Mexican Restaurant.

Green light from both of us.

The price of our meals was a little over $33.

Want to Try Them?

Don Luis Mexican Restaurant currently offers limited dine-in service per state requirements as well as takeout service. You can dine in or get takeout from their location at 21 West Main Street in Ione.

You can order online using the QR code from the Don Luis Facebook page, or you can search for them on the ChowNow website. If you prefer to order by phone, call them at 209-274-0832.

Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.