The Café is easy on your wallet and hard to forget [Food & Dining]

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The Café has been around since 1996, yet remains one of Louisville’s best-kept secrets. Owned and operated by New Yorker Sal Rubino, The Café is best known for its lunch. Head to The Café in the early afternoon and you will have a hard time finding somewhere to sit, but you will likely see Sal bustling around, greeting customers, managing his staff and taking phone calls. Sal and his wife Cindy have worked very hard to build a loyal fan base and show no signs of slowing.

Cindy Rubino and her years of diverse cooking experience have been put to good use in building what has become an impressive menu showcasing both variety and delicious flavor.

The famous lunch options at The Café include: Tomato Dill Soup, a Tuscan Toasted Chicken Salad sandwich and “The Pimita,” a spin on the modern pizza made from pita bread, homemade pimiento cheese and a layer of tomatoes and bacon.

While lunch has been The Café’s staple for more than a decade, The Café has only recently begun offering breakfast, which is as equally impressive. The daily breakfast menu includes dishes like Twice-Baked French Toast, my personal favorite. It’s a French baguette that is actually soaked overnight in egg custard, then baked and covered in cinnamon, powdered sugar, pecans and baked apples. If that doesn’t make your mouth water, then maybe you’re not a breakfast person or a fan of awesome things.

You can’t have a discussion about your experience at The Café without mentioning the atmosphere. As you sit at your glass-topped table adorned with a white table cloth and freshly-picked flowers, your view around the restaurant is filled with vibrant color and retro decor. Seemingly every inch of The Café is covered with chandeliers, old-fashioned room dividers, paintings of Broadway musical posters, elaborate quilts and other miscellaneous antiques.

When it comes to service, The Café is not lacking. Chances are, your server will be a woman. Sal Rubino is a strong believer in second chances. Over the years, Sal and his wife have taken dozens of young women who have been down a rough road, made positive changes in their lives and they have given them an opportunity to work in a safe and loving environment.

It is clear that the staff at The Café is very tight-knit, like a large and closely-aged family. Sal and Cindy represent a sort of motherly and fatherly role. The staff – or family – is well-trained in hospitality and food service, working cohesively like a well-oiled machine to produce the perfect dining experience.

When you finally reach the end of your meal and the check comes, you can’t help but feel like you are getting a steal.  The large portions may be surprising and the service excellent, but don’t worry, you’re not stealing anything. The price range for breakfast and lunch specialties at The Café runs from about $5.95 to $8.95.

Open Monday thru Saturday, The Café delivers to the Greater Louisville area and also provides carry-out for customers who may be on-the-go. As the social media consultant for The Café, I can tell you that you can usually check The Café Facebook or Twitter pages daily for the soups of the day and anything else that may be going on there.

While slightly off the beaten path and in a renovated warehouse, The Café represents what an eating establishment ought to be – a place with exquisite food, superb customer service and a warm environment. Check out The Café at their website thecafetogo.com for expanded menus and catering information.

About Michael Windle
A fair-weather contributor to Louisville.com. I enjoy music, golf and the beach - when I can get there.
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