DINING GUIDE: Lost Springs home to authentic Mexican food

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRENDA CONYERS
Al’s Cafe, on the corner of Chicago and Berry Streets in Lost Springs, has been serving hungry patrons for more than 30 years, and according to locals and family member Delora Alvarez knows how to cook good authentic Mexican food.


Alvarez’s husband, Manuel, taught her the secrets to cooking fine Mexican food and together they opened Al’s Cafe in Lost Springs.


Her husband died in August 1975 and Alvarez closed the restaurant for five years. Then, with five daughters and one son to raise alone, she decided reopening would be the best way to support her family. And through the years, the family has continued to work with her and help her keep the restaurant going.


You’ll have to look through the ordering window to see Alvarez hard at work. She starts work in the kitchen about 6 a.m. every day, preparing the food from scratch. Her daughter, Audry, is there to help her take orders and run the cash register. Her grandson, Hunter, can be seen every now and again, helping grandma wash the dishes.


Two years ago, the family realized the business had outgrown the building they had been serving out of for many years. Lines were forming outside as patrons patiently waited for service.


“The old building had an outhouse dad had fixed up,” daughter Audry Alvarez said. “He had bright colored carpet pieces in there and it was colorful.”


Even after building a new building that doubled in customer capacity, Al’s Cafe still has lines forming on Friday and Saturday nights.


“We have prices that are reasonable and the quality of the food is always the same,” said Jenny Herman Robinson, who is a daytime waitress and friend of the family from years ago.”People keep coming back.”


“We had talked about putting up a sign,” Audry Alvarez said. “But we didn’t get it done and found we didn’t have to. Word of mouth has been our best advertising.”


She said she recognized people she had served when she was working with her mother and attending school.


“They are just a little older and now bring in their kids,” she said.


The best selling item is Al’s Special, a large tostado flour shell with beans, pork, beef or a mixture of the meats, lettuce, cheese and tomato. The Special is offered in three sizes: mini, regular and large, to accommodate the light to big eaters.


Prices range from $1.50 for com tacos to $8 for a Mexican pork chop dish. The menu also offers auesedias, sanchos and burritos.


“People thought our prices would go up when the new building was completed,” Audry Alvarez said. “But only a few items went up, and no more than 50 cents. Our prices have been the same forever.”


Besides the main dishes, Al’s offers a variety of desserts. Some are fried ice cream, Sunburst sundaes served in a fried flour tortilla in the shape of a star with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on it and ice cream in the center topped with a choice of strawberry, caramel or chocolate topping.


The cafe is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.


Audry Alvarez recommends calling on Friday and Saturday nights for reservations to make sure you get a seat.


“People sometimes have to wait up to 45 minutes,” she said, “But they don’t seem to mind-they keep coming back.”


To make reservations, call 785-983-4827.

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