Like any cafe that opens in the consecrated surrounds of Balaclava, there seems a duty-of-care to respect the geneses of the place, yet still stamp one’s own authority. Las Chicas (translating to ‘girls’ in Spanish) has been one of those staple joints on Carlisle Street willing to shoot for a little diversity.
Their menu can get a little screwy at times, with honey pumpkin soup with fetta and a daring carrot and date loaf with pistachio ricotta, but the Las Chicas mob believe in invention being the mother and all that. Bikini Blowout Benedict, like many of the all-day breakfast options, is gargantuan in size and the ultimate hangover cure. Old-school collectables hang on walls here and there, and plenty of foot traffic loiters outside gagging for coffee (Allpress) through the takeaway window.
‘Las Chicas’ is spray-painted on the side and underpass of the venue in case you forget where you are, and a luminous courtyard leads onto the alley and up around to the Balaclava Train Station (Sandringham Line) for a quick getaway. When your main competitor is the neighbouring Wall Two 80, you’ve got to work damn hard to make sure everything you put out on the plate, and in coffee cups, is faultless.