What are some of the most iconic restaurants in Chicago, which on a per-square mile basis can stand on its own against any other heavy hitting restaurant cities in the world? There are a number of trailblazing restaurants that have shaped the culinary history of the Windy City. Logan Square has been one of the centers of gravity in Chicago dining in recent years, and much of that can be traced back to the opening of Lula Café more than 16 years ago. In the center of American Midwest, the commitment to locally sourced, farm-to-table cuisine was not something that occupied the culinary sensibility of people historically and yet Lula Café is considered one of the pioneers that achieved this tremendous feat. Whenever I visited Chicago, Lula Café was always on my list of restaurants I’ve been meaning to check out, but oftentimes other restaurants went higher up my list. On this weekend trip to the Windy City, I was determined to make it to this iconic restaurant for brunch. It was definitely one of the better brunches I’ve had in recent memory.
Anyone who has followed my restaurant reviews will know how much I personally dislike brunch. Does Lula Café, which is still considered one of the best brunch places in the city, live up to its hype? Absolutely! What the restaurant does very well is attention to details and doing little things right for a delightful meal. The moment I saw the beautiful assortment of house pastries, I knew that the kitchen wasn’t playing safe. My favorite was the plum caramel coffee cake that was delicious yet not overly sweet, but the blackberry peach kolache and zuccihini chocolate walnut muffin were not far behind.
The “It” brunch dish at Lula Café seems to be the beautiful pile of cornbread French toast that is accompanied by peaches, butterscotch, brown sugar pecans and lemon yogurt. I really liked the fact that, despite its appearance, the French toast was not overly sweet and the combination of ingredients worked together in harmony. My girlfriend, who is partial to anything that tastes sweet, couldn’t stop digging it. The best dish of our meal, however, was the simple-looking “The Royale,” a breakfast sandwich of heirloom tomato, speck ham, fontina, sunny side egg and lettuce on house made focaccia. You don’t truly appreciate this dish until you take your first bite. The freshness of the ingredients and the marvelous way they come together inside the focaccia bread was truly magnificent that I had to figure out what kind of magic the kitchen worked up its sleeve. Definitely one of the best brunch dishes I’ve had all year!
Lula Café doesn’t take reservations during weekend brunch and it is still one of the hottest tickets during those times; a friend of mine who lives in Chicago warned me that a 2-hour long wait is not uncommon. Fortunately, the weather was not quite nice that day and we had no problem getting seated immediately at the counter area next to the bar. In any case, the smart move is to show up here during early side of brunch times. There are also outdoor seatings during the summer season. I absolutely enjoyed the laid back vibe of summer weekend in Chicago where a lot of young, handsome crowds in jeans, yoga pants and summer dresses came out to have a good time, complementing their brunch with libations in the brunch cocktail and beer sections. I’m really glad I made a visit to Lula Café; for all its hype, it does deliver the good with thoughtful execution based on simple yet wonderful combination of fresh ingredients.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 2537 N. Kedzie Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60647
Telephone: (773) 489-9554