Review: Lu’s Kitchen by Hairy Putter
Lu’s kitchen can be hard to find but once you have, you will be well rewarded. Lu’s Kitchen is exactly that, the building is the kitchen. There is no inside dinning. Located at 45013 Ukiah Street in the village of Mendocino, CA., this tiny gem is nestled between the Rainsong Store and Corners of the Mouth (look for the large red church structure).
There is a row of outdoor tables on your left as you approach the café as well as a group to the side and behind the café. The tables do not have shade umbrellas; we were fortunately able to secure a table that had some partial shade from the large privacy hedge. I was able to sit in my chair and keep cool.
Once again it was a very warm summer day as my caregivers and I decided to try Lu’s Kitchen. The menu is posted on a message board at the edge of the privacy hedge opposite the café’s order and pick up window. Lu’s Kitchen specializes in organic cross–cultural vegetarian cuisine. We arrived at around 12.30 pm and once settled at our table of choice, each of my lunch companions took their turn to go and look over the menu and make their selections. Once you have decided what to order, go to the window where a very pleasant lady was waiting to take our orders and make helpful suggestions.
One of my guests ordered the Tostaco ($7.25). Across between a taco and tostada, it is offered with a choice of corn/white flour or whole wheat tortilla which is piled high with rice, pinto beans a generous portion of baby romaine lettuce, sweet orange cherry tomatoes, then your choice of mild, medium or hot home made salsa sits atop this colorful creation along with sour cream and your choice again of guacamole, homemade pesto or vegetarian sausage.
My other dining guest opted for the Greek Salad ($7.95). A generous portion of shredded baby romaine lettuce, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, delicious small pitted kalamata olives, red onions, creamy feta cheese all tossed in Lu’s homemade pesto and a corn tortilla side. This delightful subtle pesto has a great balance of flavor and a mild olive oil is used as to not overpower the melding of fresh basil and other ingredients. Each meal was served on vibrant orange plates that surprisingly enhanced and complimented the color palate of the creative and colorful ingredients of the food. So often I find that colored serving dishes can distract or clash with the color combinations of the food but for these delightfully colorful meals that was not the case.
A bowl of water and a suggestion for what I might find delicious to snack on was inquired by one of my caregivers to the two ladies working in the café. The vegetarian sausage (a $1.75 charge) was their recommendation and did it turn out to be delicious. There was so much, the warm sausage was thoughtfully crumbled and served in a plastic container, so it could be easily handed to me. My human dinning guests helped me eat the generous portion. A container of cool fresh water was willingly brought out to me shortly after it was requested.
Our meals and beverages along with my water where brought to us at our table. My dining companions each ordered the pomegranate and goji berry ice tea, served in its individual chilled bottle, refreshing and yummy. Recycling containers for glass and plastic are conveniently located for patron use. Silverware and to-go plastic ware are available along with paper napkins and condiments on the shelf below the service window of the café.
Lu’s has a call ahead service that was being well utilized and a constant stream of people were coming to both order and dine at the café as well as pick up their to-go orders. Rice or soy milk was offered as alternative to dairy to customers ordering milky beverages. Vegan menu options are available.
Lu’s has been in business for decades and is now owned and operated by a long time employee, Kate Clark. Kate is also an organic farmer and her fresh bounty and passion is the secret to this whimsical dining establishment. All salsas and sauces are made in house and it shows from the moment you see and taste them. The delicate balance of the ingredients is apparent and the flavors authentic. They achieve and deliver as promised their degree of spiciness for the salsas without overpowering the flavors of the other ingredients.
It is so clear that Kate and her helpers care passionately about healthy, local and fresh food. A student discount price of $5 plus tax for a burrito is offered. Student ID is required. Kate firmly believes that all people need to healthily feed their bodies along with their minds. Her contribution is to also offer $1 discount on all menu food items in addition to the above special to students as a wonderful encouragement and alternative to less nutritious meal choices. Other eating establishment should take note of this progressive and imaginary concept.
This carnivore canine and his like minded dinning guests thoroughly enjoyed their vegetarian lunch at Lu’s Kitchen and greatly encourage all to partake. Other tantalizing menu items include a variety of Quesadilla’s, salads and burritos. Everything is homemade and organically grown and used where possible, Kate is going to be making her own tortillas very soon also. Lu’s is friendly, affordable, healthy and very pet friendly. We would have preferred that more attention to detail be given for the outdoor seating area, which I would rate at two paws. However, the quality of the food and business ethic of the owner makes this establishment a strong Three Paws recommendation.