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By Bethel Poston
At a recent function of The Roane Alliance, I asked Darrell Williams, Alliance director of business development, about the remodeling being done on a building in Kingston, almost across from his office on Kentucky Street.
“It’s going to be a Don Eduardo’s Mexican restaurant,” he said. “Call me when they get opened, and I’ll join you for an Out to Lunch adventure.”
When I called to arrange a day and time, I asked if he would invite others from his office to join my wife, Carol, and me.
“I’d like to eat outside if that’s OK with you,” Carol said as we approached. She had just seen the addition of the outdoor patio that we were later told could seat 50 customers.
We were pleased to see Pam May, The Alliance’s manager of marketing and tourism, waving at us from an umbrella table on the patio.
Pam’s niece, Rachael Wicks, was a neighbor of ours for several years. We called the now-9-year-old the mayor of Midtown Heights. Rachel’s dad is General Sessions Judge Jeff Wicks.
Our waiter brought us large baskets of nacho chips with spicy tomato sauce for dipping, took our beverage order and left us large menus with several pages.
Returning with our drinks, he explained the all-you-can-eat lunch special of burritos, enchiladas, tacos and chimichangas made with chicken or ground beef and served with rice and beans. The lunch special is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Having scanned the menu, I was ready to jump on this bargain, as did Pam and Darrell. I chose beef, and they selected chicken.
Visualize a very hot large plate filled with a burrito, an enchilada, a taco and a chimichanga served on top of rice and beans. It was more than I could eat, and I had planned on asking for seconds when I placed my order.
Pam and Darrell asked for additional hot sauce. I took their word for it when they said the red bowl was hotter than the green.
“My favorite from previous visits is the No. 1 lunch special, a chili relleno,” Darrell said. It’s a taco, refried beans and guacamole salad.
Carol went for the taco salad in a crispy flour tortilla bowl, choosing beef instead of chicken. Served with shredded cheese, lettuce and tomato, she passed on the sour cream. She poured the remainder of her tomato dipping sauce over the salad.
The menu shows seven lunch specialties for the same price, plus 11 others with varying prices.
One of the specials is shrimp cooked with bell peppers, onions, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes, served over rice and topped with spinach sauce. I don’t see it as a typical Mexican dish, but it sounds appealing.
At a patio table near us were five employees of Perma-Fix/Environmental Services (formerly Diversified Scientific Services) on Gallaher Road.
“I’ve eaten at Don Eduardo’s at least once a week since it opened,” Gloria Bates said. “The food is excellent, and today I’m having tacos with beans.”
Alana Dilly had done a good job on her plate of grilled chicken fajita quesadilla with onions and peppers. It was hard to tell if she chose rice or beans, maybe both.
Angela Vanover also had the lunch fajita quesadilla. She could have chosen steak and said she passed on the tomatoes.
Jennifer Cronan was finishing her shredded chicken chimichanga. I don’t know if she had a soft or deep-fried to a golden brown, stuffed flour tortilla. Her stuffing choices were cheese sauce, lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole.
“My fajita taco was delicious,” said Hope O’dell on her first visit to Don Eduardo’s.
Brothers Eduardo and Jesus Ayala opened the restaurant at 1202 N. Kentucky St. in Kingston on Jan. 16. They also operate El Cantarito restaurants in Harriman and Oak Ridge.
Going inside, I felt like I had entered a Cancun, Mexico, cantina, with Mexican music adding to the atmosphere. Stucco and brick dividers separate booths around the walls. Tables in the middle area have carved back wood chairs.
In the 1960s, my Poston Furniture store carpeted this same building when David Gray and Bob Badger built Gray-Badger Inn and Restaurant.
In June 2008 I wrote about another restaurant at this location that could seat 60 customers. Today, Don Eduardo’s can seat 76 people in the same area.
Robert Giltnane and his son, Levi, were seated in one of the booths. They own Sail Away Home & Land Sales on Race Street in Kingston.
Robert was enjoying a lunch favorite, The Best Don Eduardo’s — steak, chicken and shrimp with bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms and broccoli. It’s topped with sizzling melted cheese and served with rice, beans, lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo and tortillas.
“We eat here regularly and it’s all good,” Levi said as he took on my choice of the all-you-can-eat special.
Don Eduardo’s menu is filled with so many Mexican dishes I wouldn’t want to count them. There is a section for tortas (Mexican subs) with several meat choices.
You can order a Don Eduardo’s burger with all the fixings served with fries and cheese. Also available are a selection of steaks, seafood, chicken, chili, soups and salads.
To have a hot dog with fries, you’ll have to take somebody younger than 12 years old to order it for you. It’s Para Los Ninos, or “for the kids.”
Don Eduardo’s opens every day at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, at 11 p.m. on Friday, at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, and at 9 p.m. on Sunday.
In addition to standard beverages, domestic and imported beer is available with a full-service mixed drink bar. You can call 248-8286 for take-out orders.
I slid into another booth to visit with Edward and Jane Hardin on their second visit to Don Eduardo’s. Edward works at the Spallation Neutron Source facility at the Oak Ridge National Lab. Jane drives a school bus.
Edward said his son, Michael, was a college roommate of my grandson Bubba — Bethel IV — and Jane told me by the time this article is published they will have celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary.
On the day of our visit, Edward had a chimichanga and Jane an enchilada and taco.
Did you know that a quesadilla zinchronizada is stuffed with cheese, ham, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, avocado and sour cream?
I didn’t, but I agree with everybody I talked with about how good the food tastes at Don Eduardo’s.
I saw B.R. Ladd, investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, leaving the parking lot as we drove in.
I’m sure his investigation report on Don Eduardo’s would have read: “Good food, great service, and reasonable prices.”
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Bethel Poston is a Roane County businessman and entrepreneur who writes about places of interest in our area. E-mail suggestions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.