at La Estancia de Luisa
Photos and copy by Craig Chapman
Editorial assistance provided by Ian Hunter
Upon first walking in to La Estancia de Luisa, I am brought back to my years in Brooklyn, walking by Latin catering halls late at night with the smell of amazing food wafting out into the cold night air. The smell of food accompanied the sounds of music and lively parties that I was always certain didn’t end until sunrise. By day you might not even know they are there, but by night they are the hottest spot on the block. After a wonderful dinner at La Estancia de Luisa, there’s no question that their food is amazing, and with food as good as theirs around, the party is sure to follow.
We are immediately greeted by a smiling Carlos, husband of Vicki Iglesias, the team that own the restaurant. He graciously seats us and is incredibly friendly. The immediate warmth he brings to the restaurant fills the room and you are instantly treated like family. When asked, he helped explain the dishes on the menu and excitedly pointed out some of their most popular plates: Bandeja La Estancia, Churrasco La Estancia, Bandeja Paisa, and Pescado Frito Entero. Even other customers in the restaurant were eager to attest to the deliciousness of each dish, some even showing us the bountiful plates of food that had just arrived at their table.
Vicki sits down to give us some background on the family-owned restaurant. “La Estancia means like a farm. So the concept of the restaurant is homemade farm fresh food. You can taste it,” Vicki explains. “Everything like the empanadas, all this stuff, we make here. The soups are made every day fresh. The chefs come in at eight in the morning and start cooking. Nothing is pre-made. The meats we buy in bulk and we even cut them by hand. We do everything!”
The menu at La Estancia de Luisa reflects both Carlos’ heritage — Colombian, and Vicki’s heritage — Argentinian. Both also have rich, family food histories. “My grandfather was a chef so I ate a lot of different things like escargot and frog legs and all these things that people cringe at. My son is a chef, so it skipped a generation with me. I do the desserts here but I don’t do the cooking,” Vicki explained.
May I mention here that the Tres Leches cake is outstanding! Vicki continues, “My grandmother had a farm. I was raised basically on a farm so it was a lot of fresh food. She would wake in the morning and say, ‘What do you want to eat today?’ Everything was fresh.”
Carlos is no stranger to food either. He handles more of the food and creative aspects of the restaurant while Vicki runs the business side of things. She tells us why this dynamic duo are a match made in foodie heaven. “He’s been in the restaurant business for 15 years and we always wanted to own our own restaurant. I’m good with numbers and bookkeeping. So he brings his knowledge of the restaurant business with him and I bring the wisdom of accounting.”
Reflecting on the past 12 years the couple has been in the restaurant business, Vicki smiles and says, “I love Brevard County! We get a lot of people that are regulars. If you come during lunchtime this place is packed! We also get a lot of traveling people that see us online. I guess they just like the homemade food that we have and I make them feel welcomed. I know a lot of my customers as people, not just customers, and they know us. The key thing is to love what you do, and we love what we do!”
The love shows in every aspect of La Estancia de Luisa, especially in the food.
La Estancia de Luisa
5270 Babcock Street, Palm Bay
About the Writer
Craig Chapman is the producer of Real Food Real Kitchens, a food media brand that is all about Family, Food, Culture and History. To learn more about his TV series, magazine, and cookbook, visit RealFoodRealKitchens.com
Screening and Q&A: MARCH 10
See a screening of Real Food Real Kitchens’ “International” Cuban episode followed by a Q&A with Producer Craig Chapman and a tasting reception on March 10 from 6-8 p.m. Free admission. Harris Community Auditorium, Foosaner Art Museum — 1463 Highland Avenue, Melbourne. This event is held in conjunction with the exhibition Caminos Transitados/Paths Taken: A Retrospective of Francisco “Gordillo” Arredondo Baba Oñi, on view through March 13.