Garner was best known for his films such as "The Great Escape" and "The Notebook", and television series including the "The Rockford Files." He died in his Los Angeles home on Saturday.
"I didn't realize he was in such bad condition," Liz Herrera, owner of Casa Herrera said. "I was very upset when I heard the news this morning."
Herrera first met Garner when he visited his best friend, former San Francisco 49ers John Brodie, while recovering in Abilene nearly five years ago.
"We were surprised to see James Garner walk in the door," recalls Herrera. "He wanted six tamales with chilli, beans, and rice."
Herrera said Garner would visit once again the next day, but this time, took a photo in front of the restaurant's fountain. To this day, Herrera still treasures that photo and will never let it go after learning about his death.
"He never acted like he was an actor and needed to be put in the corner," adds Garner.
Eventually, Garner would become a patient in Abilene after suffering an injury after realizing how well his friend Brodie was treated.
Garner was 86 years old.