For any cafe that opens in the consecrated surrounds of Balaclava there seems a duty-of-care to respect the genesis of the area, yet there is still a need to stamp one’s own authority. Las Chicas has been a staple on Carlisle Street for so long that their diversity has become part of the landscape.
Their menu features wonderful combinations such as honey pumpkin soup with fetta or a daring carrot and date loaf with pistachio ricotta. The near-iconic 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 there is plenty of loitering foot traffic outside, mostly gagging for coffee (Allpress) through the take away 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 you're located in such a discerning neighbourhood, you’ve got to work damn hard to make sure everything you put out on the plate (and in coffee cups) is faultless ... and it is.
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