Lewis and Clark departed from St. Louis, Missouri in 1804 to explore newly acquired U.S. land from the Louisiana Purchase. Unknown waterways and things that wanted to eat humans awaited. And that’s how we imagine the owners of Lula Cafe felt when they opened a restaurant in Logan Square in 1999.
But times have changed. Thomas Jefferson is no longer president and Matt Damon has explored Mars. And Lula Cafe, which was once a pioneer of the little talked-about neighborhood, is now a beloved anchor tenant in an area full of great restaurants.
But Lula Cafe isn’t just an anchor tenant - it’s the type of neighborhood spot that any neighborhood would be lucky to have. It has both bar and table seating, so it’s as comfortable to dine solo as it is with a group. The space as well as the staff contribute to its friendly vibes, and it’s Perfect For almost any occasion. Parents in town? Perfect. Date Night? Perfect. Looking to break up with a date? Sad, but you could definitely do that here too. All of that said, brunch is perhaps what Lula Cafe is most Perfect For, and it’s our favorite time to eat here.
The food is best described as “farm to table,” with dishes like beet bruschetta and pan roasted quail. There are some staples on the menu, but they’re always cranking out new and interesting dishes. Sometimes they get a little too creative, mostly on the dinner menu, and flavors fall flat - but it’s never extreme to the point that we get that mad. Besides, it’s like getting mad at an old friend, which is hard to seriously do. And it’s especially hard to get mad at friends who brought such good food to a once overlooked part of town. We’re just happy they didn’t get eaten by any bears when the restaurant first opened up.
An excellent salad with apple, pecorino, hemp seed, and buttermilk dressing. We always start with this.
A basic spaghetti with sweet and spicy chile, bacon, and queso fresco - very simple, sometimes to the point of being bland.
A baked piece of feta cheese with jalapeno-basil oil, marinated olives, and onions is going to be good ten times out of ten. The grilled bread it comes with is hearty and fantastic. Make sure to spread a healthy portion of cheese on that bread.
A delicate fish that’s heavy on the tamarind. It comes with a few clams and mussels. This is a good choice if you’re looking for something light.
This is a staple on Lula’s menu, but one we unfortunately can’t get behind. It’s bucatini with cinnamon, feta, garlic, and brown butter. The noodles are great, but the cinnamon and feta is too weird of a mix and ultimately not good.
A small plate of prawns, baby leeks, preserved lemon, and matsutake mushrooms. The sauce is creamy and delicious. The portion is meant to be a small plate, so we only wish we could get a larger one.
The smoked duck breast is great, as is the mix of lentil-like beans it comes over. There are, however, a bunch of shaved radish pieces on top that aren’t really necessary. Go ahead and move those out of the way.
We want to point out that Lula is ideal for vegetarians. They offer a six course tasting menu of interesting dishes you won’t find elsewhere. If you don’t eat meat, it’s definitely worth trying.
We’re big fans of the basic , but you literally can’t go wrong with a single item on the brunch menu. Whatever your order, make sure a or two is involved.