It’s obvious that 2015 has brought a serious wintry chill to our neighborhoods.
Looking for a dining escape to put my spirit in a better climate, I visited one of the city’s newest downtown establishments, L2 Fuel.
(I agree, a very odd name.)
L2 Fuel is located at 101 Market St. near the Aquarium and Market Street Bridge. It’s the touristy, ground-zero part of town, where many eateries include a sideline – or maybe food’s the sideline and there’s some other mainline offering.
Either way, L2 Fuel’s restaurant is adjoined by a fully stocked stand-up paddleboard (SUP) shop, complete with an array of boards for purchase or rental, service and support.
But, that’s a review for somebody else. Your Cousin Leo’s just out looking for a bite of good food!
I found that L2 Fuel’s tropical-themed cuisine can nicely provide an hour’s escape from winter.
It claims to provide a healthful and casual dining experience. I’d agree, as its aesthetics are modern and simple – light, earthy ceramic tile accented by bright red metal chairs. Yet, the feel is comfortable and cozy as there are only four small round tables and one large table that could accommodate several diners.
Menu items are typically in the $10 range and appetizers start at $4.
The menu boasts salads, sandwiches and appetizers that explicitly bring to mind Brazil, Cuba, the Caribbean and Asia.
It also includes specialty alcoholic drinks and raw juice drinks that pretty much cover every fruit found in the tropics.
But, again, I’m not a health food nut and I don’t drink hard cider in the middle of the afternoon. So, I was very pleased when the server, James, confirmed that sweet tea is readily available.
In fact, I’ve never found any sweet tea more delicious or had it presented in better style. L2 Fuel served up a smooth, very sweet tea in stainless steel cups, garnished with a lemon slice and bearing the establishment’s “Live Life Outside” motto. James even left a large carafe of tea so we didn’t have to wait for refills.
Perhaps, with U.S.-Cuban relations so recently in the news, I opted to try The Cuban Crisis sandwich with a side of traditional black beans and rice. My dining companion chose soft tacos – one styled Athena and the other Little Havana – with an appetizer of fried plantains.
I’ve had traditional Cuban sandwiches many times, from Calle Ocho in Miami to authentic Cuban sandwich shops in Atlanta’s Latin neighborhoods.
L2 Fuel’s Cuban Crisis isn’t a traditional Cuban sandwich, but it‘s tasty in its own right: Chicken flavored in citrus, covered with Swiss cheese, infused with a black bean/pineapple salsa and resting between Cuban bread made in town by Niedlov’s Breadworks.
The Little Havana and Athena tacos aren’t anything you’d be able to find elsewhere in town. The Little Havana is filled with Cuban–styled pork topped with slaw and a mustard barbecue sauce. The Athena is a vegetarian fare: tabouli, lettuce, parmesan, avocado and oil.
James and the L2 Fuel staff were more than happy to answer our questions about the varied menu items and ingredients, such as, “What is tabouli?” The answer the latter question: a flavorful sort of salad featuring bulgar wheat (which is first boiled, then dried).
The hour spent at L2 Fuel was a pleasant experience of good food and conversation. Isn’t that what casual dining should be?
Link to the restaurant’s menu: http://www.l2outside.com/l2-fuel-s/2609.htm