Mexican restaurants are known as much for their sizzle as their salsa.
You know, that "ssssssss" echoing through the restaurant, letting patrons know someone's about to get a piping-hot plate of grilled onions, green peppers and steak, chicken or shrimp.
Unfortunately, the fajitas at Dublin's La Cabana arrived at our table with more of a fizzle than sizzle. But that mild disappointment faded as soon as my daughter and I dug in to our steak-and-chicken combo fajitas for two.
The restaurant, which occupies what was once a Quincy's steakhouse across from the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center, is the sixth La Cabana. It's the fourth in Middle Georgia, joining others in Cochran and Hawkinsville.
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The restaurant wasn't very busy on this Wednesday night, and the service was outstanding. The waitress kept our drink glasses filled and checked on us often, and our food arrived in almost no time.
The cheese sauce we ordered for our complimentary chips had a nice consistency, not too thick and not too soupy. The chips were a little on the hard side, though.
The fajitas came with the usual sides of Spanish rice, refried beans, guacamole and sour cream. I'm not a big rice fan, but this was tasty and not sticky like some you find. The chicken and steak were tender, and grilled and seasoned to perfection.
My wife ordered the Bistec a la Mexicana, which is pretty similar to steak fajitas but spiced up with jalapeno peppers. My teenage son ordered the soft chimichangas - deep-fried tortillas filled with beef tips. Both gave their dishes high marks.
La Cabana's menu includes a la carte options, as well as house specials that range from pork burritos to the T-Bone Ranchero. There's also a variety of seafood and fish dishes.
The kid's menu includes American fare - such as hot dogs, hamburgers and spaghetti - plus Mexican dishes such as tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas. We played it safe with our 2-year-old and went with chicken fingers, which looked really good. He's not much for spicy food, and we knew that after a few bites he'd be trying to escape from his high chair to revisit the wishing well near the entrance.
The La Cabana location was most recently a Chinese restaurant, and there have been some modest changes to add a south-of-the-border flair. The booths are either new or holdovers from the previous tenant, but no matter - they were extremely comfortable. A large bar has been added, with three huge, sparkling chandeliers and a string of multi-colored lights wrapped around the ceiling of the area.
So, La Cabana might not be the most authentic-looking Mexican restaurant, but the food is the real deal. Sizzle or no sizzle.
La Cabana Fine Mexican Grill
1821 Rice Ave.
Phone: (478) 2963987
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Monday-Sunday
Price range: $1.50-$18.95
Payment: Cash or credit
Kids menu: Yes
Noise level: Moderate
Latest health rating: 91
Wheelchair accessible: Yes