I mentioned in a previous article that we found some surprises in Abilene, Kansas. Wherever we travel, we always look for some of the locally owned restaurants to visit. After all, we all have to eat, so uncovering some great dishes served up by the locals is a welcome treat. Imagine our surprise when we found Three-One-One, an eatery designed to present a relaxed cuisine in an island style setting. Since the fall of 2012, Chef John Shaft and his team have been serving up inventive plates for their customers.
We want to thank the Three-One-One and Abilene Visitors Bureau for their hospitality. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Key West of the Midwest
The exterior of the building, with its blue motif, hints that this place is a little different. When we walked in the door, they had only been open for a few minutes. There were a couple of people at the bar talking, but we were some of the first customers of the day. Within minutes, a steady stream of locals started flowing into the restaurant. It was obvious from the conversations that most everyone knew each other. This was what we were looking for. A local watering hole that drew in the nearby residents.
Toward the back of the building is the bar area. The island vibe is strongest in this section, with a small tiki bar offering additional atmosphere to the place. The blue aura cast by the lighting helps add a relaxing mood to the place. It almost feels like we are on island time, which we discovered the true meaning of during a visit to the Caribbean. (You can read about that adventure here.) Fortunately, the wait staff at Three-One-One is a little more timely than what we discovered in the islands. Our server was more than willing to walk us through the menu and even make a few suggestions.
The island feeling quickly permeated my spirit, so I decided to dive headfirst into the Mahi-Mahi Tacos. These delicious handhelds are filled with a good mix of flavors that meld together in each bite. The grilled fish slices are stacked on a bed of lettuce, which has been topped with the house salsa. A handful of scallions and some queso cheese are tossed aboard, and the whole thing is drizzled with a yummy sauce. These tacos can be ordered as a pair or a trio, and I found two to be quite satisfying.
After scanning the menu. I could almost guess what Crystal would select. Sure enough, she went with a chicken dish. (Her go to protein.) The Luau Chicken is a handheld designed to bring the tastes of the islands crashing onto your taste buds. A chicken breast is seasoned with island spices and then grilled to perfection. Topped with provolone cheese, it is laid on a bed of slaw. This arrangement is then garnished with a heaping serving of pineapple and mango salsa. It is accompanied by a serving of their house-made chips, which have an amazing crunch.
Let’s just get something out there right now. Crystal’s all-time favorite dessert is Key Lime Pie. Most places she will refrain from ordering it, since it will come from some frozen creation that was shipped in who knows how long ago. At Three-One-One she saw the opportunity to savor a fresh slice that was made by someone who truly understands the nuances of this recipe. A drizzle of raspberry sauce added a nice accent to the well balanced sweet and tart flavoring of the pie. I knew they had a hit by Crystal’s reaction after her first bite. Our conversation turned to a discussion of future trips to the Florida Keys area. Three-one-one had succeeded in taking us on a trip to the islands all while staying in downtown Abilene, Kansas. Be sure to add a meal at this unique eatery to your itinerary when you visit Abilene. If you enjoyed this article we would appreciate a little love in the comments section below. Thanks!
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