Opened in 1999, Logan Square’s Lula Café predated the ‘farm to table’ movement in Chicago. And for 24 years, Co-owner/Executive Chef Jason Hammel and his wife, co-owner Amalea Tshild have building some pretty impressive street credibility. They’ve been twice-nominated as a finalist for a James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes.
They were at the top of my list for researching outstanding brunches in the city.
Some of their moderately priced breakfast and brunch farm-to-table offerings include a SMOKED TROUT SCRAMBLE Arugula, dill, cream cheese, house potatoes, and toast. NUT AND DATE GRANOLA pairsseasonal fruit and house-made yogurt. Their CLASSIC LULA BREAKFAST BURRITO hasavocado, tomato, potato, cheddar, green chile soffritto, and soft scrambled eggs. A SMOKED SALMON RILLETTE boastsaKlug farm apple, radish, boiled egg, and a seeded rye cracker. But the presentation defies these simple ingredients. Each plate seems artistically designed. Lula’s ROYALE” (LULA BREAKFAST SANDWICH SERIES) boasts a griddled pork loin, marcona almond romesco, arugula, paprika aioli, and a ‘sunny’ egg.
Lunch items include THE “TINEKA” the classic Lula spicy peanut butter sandwich with lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber, and sprouts. I would never have thought to put any of these ingredients together, but they work. Their CHICKPEA AND FENNEL TAGINE hasgreen harissa, golden raisin, preserved lemon, arugula, and grilled bread.
Dinner entrees include PASTA YIAYIA, withbucatini, feta, garlic, brown butter, and cinnamon, GRILLED WILD ATLANTIC MACKEREL with a confit rosette potato, and carmen pepper sott’olio. GLAZED DELICATA SQUASH has Italian black rice, Klug farm pears, black olive, and matsutake.
Google reviews were nearly perfect.
“Fantastic gem of a place that stands out in spite of all the other amazing spots in the Logan square area,” wrote one.” The restaurant has a very cute ambiance and décor. Food and drinks were extraordinary. Very attentive service as well. We had to wait for over an hour for a Sunday brunch but our experience exceeded expectations.”
“Sometimes places are over-hyped. Lula is not one of those. The meals are well balanced, just right, and everything you want. I will be dreaming of this breakfast burrito for a while, crispy tortilla with cheesy eggs inside. The side sauces are incredible. French omelette was creamy and side salad was very fresh. The trout scramble was also insanely delicious. Not a crumb was left behind! Wait was 1.5hrs on Sat morning for a table of 5 at 10am. Wait on a Monday (holiday) at 9:30 for a table of 4 was 30min. They bring a super cute postcard with the check. Hostess was friendly and helpful, all staff was very attentive. They kept the coffee flowing and the food came very quickly.”
A note about their service fee…
Prices may be a bit lower on food for this reason: As their FAQ sheet notes, a 20% service charge is added “to pay employees a fair living wage and benefits. A service charge model helps us provide a consistent income for all members of our team in a way that the old tip system did not.”
Lula Café is located at 2537 N. Kedzie Boulevard. They are open Wednesday-Monday, 9am- 3pm for breakfast and lunch, then re-opened from 5pm-10pm for dinner. They are closed on Tuesdays. Reservations are only available at dinner. For more information, click here.
Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago