Thursday, February 12, 2009

Adventure Chicago: A Diamond in the Rough, Lula Café

When you visit a large city like Chicago, there are many decisions to be made when it comes to dining. The choices are endless—ethnicity, food-style, location, and price. Sometimes it's difficult, if not totally overwhelming, to weed through the thousands of options, forcing many visitors to stick to the downtown area, which is more familiar.

In my travels, I have found the most noteworthy restaurants are the ones where the locals dine. Usually the place where the resident foodies gravitate to repeatedly are the restaurants not just worth trying, but the ones that stand out in your mind for years to come. They may be slightly off the beaten path, but truly worth the effort in the end.

Lula Café is one of those places. It is located in a storefront in a transitional neighborhood called Logan Square. Driving by, you probably wouldn't even blink an eye. Once inside, however, you are instantly filled with warmth, even on the most blustery winter evening. And, if the atmosphere doesn’t do it for you, the strong, delicious cocktails will.

The waiting area is small and dimly lit with little votives placed randomly along a dark wood, vintage bar. It is incredibly inviting from the moment you set foot into the restaurant. The drink list consists of wine, beer, and cocktails. Their signature cocktails includes house-made sangria and margaritas. They also offer “old school” cocktails including Sidecars and Manhattans. Their signature Sidecar is a drink not to be missed—the perfect blend of sweet, sour, and smooth…delicious.

Like the restaurant space itself, the menu at Lula Café is small—using only seasonal organic produce and local fish, meats, and poultry. The menu changes daily or weekly in order to deliver customers the freshest meats and produce available. We ordered a chestnut risotto appetizer with turnips followed by a beet salad with blue cheese and warm wilted greens. The risotto was perfectly cooked and the flavor combinations were incredibly savory. The cold beet salad with warm mesclun greens and subtle blue cheese was perfect. The scene stealer of the evening was the pork belly entrée—pan seared and almost crispy on the outside with exceptionally tender, perfectly cooked meat inside that melted in my mouth.

Lula Café offers breakfast, brunch on weekends, and dinner daily and the prices are extremely reasonable. The service is friendly, the atmosphere is just right, and the food is near flawless in its execution. Lula Café is truly a diamond in the rough—a Chicago jewel not to be missed. Details:

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About Mod City Mom

After becoming mothers, sisters Sarah Romine and Leah Weyandt wanted to marry the activities and interests that they experienced before motherhood with their new found lives with children. This was not always an easy task—traveling to obscure places, shopping at off-beat boutiques, and sipping lazy-afternoon cocktails doesn't always fit neatly with parenthood. Stemming from their frustration, they meticulously searched, and continue to search, for activities, establishments, and entertainment that they take pleasure in and their families benefit from. The result? Mod City Mom.

About Sarah

Sarah is a passionate cook, fashionista, writer, actor, and mother. Like all actors, she ended up working at many-a-restaurant to make ends meet and shopping at countless bargain boutiques to maintain her sense of personal style. Her culinary journey, love affair with fashion, and desire to remain true to herself after becoming a mother are the inspirations for this site. Sarah lives with her husband and two sons in Chicago.

About Leah

A polymath wannabe, Leah loves books, films, music, cooking, and travel. After co-starting a writing and editing shop in 2002, Leah has spent her spare time frequenting her favorite cities, hangouts, and haunts. Her obsession with finding the new, innovative, and quirky is the impetus behind this site. Leah lives with her two sons and husband in North San Diego County.
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