With its record player that scratches out salsa tunes, worn posters of Argentinean football greats and a battered foosball table, La Paloma is a refreshing alternative to the clean-cut chic of so many Melbourne cafes. The walls are painted in brash primary colours, the floor is haphazardly paved and they use a small box instead of a till. The handwritten menu propped up against the coffee machine features Latin staples rarely seen in this part of the world.
Argentinean empanadas, Brazilian beans with rice and Spanish tortillas are all on offer for less than $10, so your wallet will be as relaxed as the clientele. If you’re still peckish, the churros displayed on the main counter are dangerously inviting. The coffee is strong but never bitter and often cited as the best in Brunswick, if not further afield.
The crowd is as diverse as you’ll see in this town. You’ll almost certainly hear the patter of Spanish as ex-pats converge on La Paloma for a taste of home. Joining them are cool inner city creatives and young families who can’t get enough of the sweet rice porridge that clings to the mouth of every toddler in sight.
Whatever your style, you’ll fit in to this laid back piece of the Latin world.