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Lula Cafe

Restaurants, Eclectic Logan Square
5 out of 5 stars
(14user reviews)
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsLula Cafe
 (Photograph: Jill Paider)
Photograph: Jill PaiderLula Cafe
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsLula Cafe
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsLula Cafe
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsLula Cafe
 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
Photograph: Martha WilliamsLula Cafe

Time Out says

There are a million steaks in this world, and not one quite like Lula's. Slices of flat-iron pattern a plate, semolina gnocchi tucked here and there. It is not steakhouse food. And it is definitely not that strange genre of Italian steakhouse food. This is a steak strewn with kimchi whose heat and crunch is compulsive. Specks of fried sardine pop with brininess, riffing on the fermented cabbage’s funk.

It sounds strange, doesn’t it? It’s anything but. Aesthetically, it’s striking. Technically, it’s accomplished. It’s a dish that is very much of its parts: the high quality, consciously sourced, thoughtfully prepared beef; the rustic housemade pasta; the commitment to canning (kimchi); the penchant for small, sustainable fish (sardines). These are the traits that, for more than a decade, one has come to describe as being soLula. But this steak is more than that. It’s a dish that, in its inspired flavor combinations, is greater even than the sum of its very great parts.

And it’s not just the steak. On recent visits to Lula, dish after dish pushed the envelope from interesting to exciting. I had a bite that combined sweet-potato puree, black lentils and candied peanuts, and I was left with nothing else to say except, in awe, “Peanuts!” Multiple times. If food can be genius, that flavor combination—it was the accompaniment to roasted pork loin, by the way—is Stephen Hawking. Surprises like this turned dishes from familiar to wondrous, whether it was cocoa nibs injecting soft notes of bitterness into a squash soup or sesame brittle breaking the mold of a pumpkin-apple salad with unexpected crunch.

These dishes were captivating flavor-wise. Others were marvelous just to look at, in a way similar to the plates at Blackbird or L2O. But Lula is not really like Blackbird and L2O: It’s in the world of neighborhood restaurants whose appetizers are 10 bucks and entrées 20. And in this landscape, the ambition and finesse of Lula’s food truly puts it in a league of its own. Take, for instance, the evocative plating of bay scallops, each little guy adorned with its own mint leaf, little orbs of baby brussels sprouts and beets dotting the plate like a magically earthy ocean floor.

These dishes are at home in the expanded, renovated space, which transformed the cramped entry and bar area into an expansive, light-filled room, the defining feature of which is a gorgeous marble bar. In the back of the new space is a kitchen for pastry chef Kate Neumann, whose desserts are, for better and for worse, all over the board, from an inviting warm chocolate torte to a phenomenal bourbon bread pudding to an off-putting pumpkin custard topped with rock-hard cubes of…well, I’m not sure what since in the interest of not breaking a tooth I decided to stop trying to eat them. Next door, the dining room retains the casual, worn vibe of a Logan Square coffee shop, but it’s currently displaying two striking large-format photos that make it feel closer to a gallery.

What’s interesting is that while Lula’s food and Lula qua Lula are certainly lovely, neither is especially precious. The butter-braised chanterelles, stacked with housemade crackers, are simply the richest, most indulgent way one could consider cooking and eating mushrooms. And if all you want is a big portion of perfectly roasted chicken, there’s the long-standing café menu, where staples like the pasta “yiayia” ($12), chickpea tagine ($9) and beet bruschetta ($10) all remain. Hence what also remains is one of Lula’s most unusual attributes: Someone can go here and have dinner for $20. Someone can go here and have dinner for $100. These someones could even do this while sitting at the same table, and no one would bat an eye.

However, perhaps as a ramification of this fact, the service on my recent visits felt more in line with a casual café than a midscale dining destination. I ordered the six-course vegetarian tasting menu, and a few of the dishes were simply set down with no mention of what they were. As far as tasting menus go, it’s also a very low-key one (and a very well-priced one at $45). It’s more a succession of dishes that happen to be meat-free (mine went salad, soup, appetizer, risotto, cheese plate, dessert) rather than a comprehensive “tasting” with an amuse-bouche or what have you.

Then again, on any given night, it could be completely different. And that flat-iron steak? By the time you read this, it may not even be on the menu anymore. There are so many restaurants in Chicago that bill themselves as farm-to-table, and there are simply so few who approach this notion with as much diligence and ingenuity as Lula (and its sibling restaurant, Nightwood). It’s enough to give you the impression that if, even for a moment, this restaurant stopped evolving, it would no longer be Lula.

By: Julia Kramer



Address: 2537 N Kedzie Blvd
Transport: El stop: Blue to Logan Square. Bus: 56, 74, 76.
Price: Average main course: $23
Opening hours: Sun-Thurs 9am-10pm; Fri, Sat 9am-11pm
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Users say (14)

5 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

I have had both dinner and brunch here, and I always enjoy it.  The food is unique and delicious.  I also love the atmosphere.  I took my mom here on her birthday and she loved it.  We need more restaurants like Lula Cafe.


I've literally NEVER had a bad experience here, even when they made we wait extra (there is always a wait on the weekends), they just give me free snacks and then that makes me happy. You can have coffee while you are waiting and the outdoor patio seating in the summer is EVERYTHING. The menu rotates regularly and always offers seasonal ingredients in creative dishes that you just wont see ANYWHERE else. Highly recommend this for the adventurous eater! 


I can't think of a better Logan Square staple than Lula Cafe. Chef/owner Jason Hammel is one of the kindest people you could possibly meet, always at his restaurant lending a hand wherever it is needed. His menu fluctuates with what is in season/available making sure to highlight local producers. Whether its a Sunday morning brunch or a Thursday night cocktail hour Lula Cafe always seems to be the right choice no matter what mood you're in.


If you dont live up north Lula Cafe can be a bit of a hike, but its worth the trip! The food is amazing and the drinks are just as good. Even on a Sunday we only had to wait 15 mins to get a table for brunch. plus if its nice out their outdoor seating is great!

I loveeee Lula cafe!! it get a little cramped in there and the waits can be long but the food is very delicious! i have only been twice but both times were filled with amazing food, drinks and service. will definitely be back!

One of the places I must go on every visit to Chicago. Never had a meal there I didn't like! Love the atmosphere, the staff, and the variety. Always fresh, interesting, and delicious.


I have no idea how or why this place has such a high rating. I came here for brunch straight from the airport with a few friends. There was a 30 minute wait for 4 to be seated, so we went to the bar and ordered a few drinks. The bloody's were disappointing to say the least.. Also they were somewhat warm -- gross. We ordered the beet bruschetta and baked French feta which were the highlights of the meal, by far. Despite the presentation of their summer nicoise being beautiful, the dish itself was terrible. I was honestly quite surprised how bad Lula Cafe was considering how well crafted their menu looks. 

The restaurant itself is quite cute though. Service was good, too.

Lula makes me so happy. It's usually pretty busy on weekends, so definitely make reservations if you're trying to go Friday or Saturday. The baked French feta on the café menu is truly out of control. 


When looking for a hip spot for some solid brunch, look no further than Lula! Quality and elegance is in plentiful supply when it comes to everything that I saw throughout the restaurant. From the raw sugar cubes, to the self straining teapot, I had a great experience. 

I ordered one of their specials, the Green Garlic Grits. It was served with wild mushrooms, green garlic puree, onions, scallions, a scoop of ricotta cheese, and a perfectly cooked 60 minute egg (a fancy way of saying a soft boiled egg) that complimented the grits perfectly. The only issue that I had was there seemed to be quite a bit of oil layered at the top. It didn't ruin the dish or anything, but it just seemed a bit heavy. I also got a side of the Asian slaw which was amazing. Thinly sliced green cabbage, sesame oil, Korean chili paste. What's not to love?


What better place to spend the first beautiful spring day in Chicago than at the bright and lovely Lula Café! Came for weekend brunch and we were quickly seated at a table with a window view. I ordered a grain bowl with bitter greens, apples, hazelnut vinaigrette, and (my favorite!) a perfectly soft poached egg. For a brunch cocktail, I was hesitant to order the Death in the Laughter Room when I heard the F.E.W. anguish and regret was a "mälort cousin" but it was a delcious sparkler and I appreciated that they used local spirits. Our server was friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable!

moderatorStaff Writer

I love Lula so much. I love it for brunch, I love it for dinner, I love it for dessert. What I don't love are the often out-the-door lines and hour+ waits to grab a table. BUT if you can hold out and wait, you won't be disappointed. The menu changes regularly so you're going to want to come back often just to make sure you've tried it all.

Most of the times I've been to Lula have been when friends are in town and want to go there. The waits are long, the seating is a little cramped, and though the food is excellent, I don't find myself going back here very much.