In an area famous for its hard-hitting Italian cuisine, the understated Cafe Lua’s extensive and eclectic menu is a refreshing antidote on a block stretched thin for choices other than pizza or pasta.
This friendly neighbourhood gem on the corner of Elgin and Drummond Streets in Carlton serves locals and not-so-locals, delivering breakfast and lunch to happy customers and friends seven days a week.
The menu runs through favourites including quinoa porridge, avocado on toast with camomile salt and Mexican-style scrambled eggs, made with the perfect amount of chipotle sauce. Over half the menu is available as a gluten-free option (including delicately-spiced pumpkin and chia seed pancakes) and Lua also has a range of hearty vegetarian choices.
There’s a rotating specials board featuring dishes created with fresh and seasonal ingredients. This might be a pork belly and white bean hot pot, a succulent steak sandwich, or the hard to go past banana and butterscotch pancakes, served with a generous topping of pecans. The almond milk, strawberry and mango smoothie topped with basil is one of the best hangover cures in town (trust us) and for the more traditional, there are nine different flavours of milkshakes to try, all served in big silver canisters with an extra glass on the side.
The bright space is adorned with artwork and photography by local artists and a digital screen scrolls through one-off pieces for sale. Fresh flowers sit on the tables, making it feel a little bit like your mum’s kitchen (if your mum is a really, really good chef) and there’s also a big pile of blankets by the door for those willing to brave the chill outside.
This extra bit of love and thought is what makes Lua such a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.