Lulu’s Local Eatery
Fans of the popular food truck can now get their health-food fix on South Grand.
FOLLOWING A FOOD TRUCK around town is a lot of fun. But so is heading over to a favorite neighborhood hangout. Now Lulu’s Local Eatery offers both—much to the delight of its loyal clientele (judging by an informal poll of customers who filled the charming eatery on a sunny Saturday at lunchtime).
The truck’s launch two and a half years ago was the first foray into the food business for Lauren Loomis and Robbie Tucker. The husband-and-wife team draws on experiences working on farms and traveling internationally for a vegan-friendly menu that’s diverse and flavorful. From falafel to tacos to tater tots, the 100 percent plant-based eatery really does have something for everyone, even without meat on the menu.
Favorites from the Truck With the truck, Loomis and Tucker were going for an affordable, sustainable dining option. The restaurant lets them stay true to that vision, but in a hip fast-casual setting. Earth-friendly ingredients and practices are paramount, and Lulu’s takes additional steps, like minimizing food waste by projecting daily sales on the conservative side, knowing that its eco-conscious customers will understand if the restaurant runs out of a menu item.
Seasonal dishes are already a fixture of the food truck—including the popular African peanut stew or butternut squash flatbread. That’s true of the restaurant, too. For the most part, the menus mirror each other, which is good news for fans of Lulu’s sweet potato black bean burger or the Buddha bowl filled with udon noodles and loads of stir-fried veggies. Items unavailable on the food truck have also been added to include daily specials like a portabella gyro topped with tomato, red onion, cucumber, fresh avocado, greens and tzaziki sauce.
Given the diversity of flavors on the menu, it’s impressive that nearly everything (aside from the occasional dessert) is made in-house. There’s an Asian influence in the Buddha bowl (with udon noodles, marinated tofu, stir-fried vegetables and a homemade peanut sauce), Tex-Mex with the tacos (sweet potato, mushroom, kale and black beans with avocado on white corn tortillas) and American with the buffalo cauliflower wrap (crispy cauliflower bites, greens, red onion and cucumber in a tortilla with spicy buffalo sauce).
Perks of a Fixed Location One of the things Loomis and Tucker were most looking forward to as they put sweat equity into their 40-seat labor of love was having a kitchen of their own. It gives Lulu’s the chance to add fresh concepts, like the weekend brunch they plan to offer soon. Plus, a liquor license means diners can enjoy wine and local craft beer in addition to the popular blackberry hibiscus iced tea—all equally delicious for washing down the addictive Cajun-flavored tator tots.
The atmosphere mirrors the owners’ penchant for sustainability and simplicity. Re-purposed pallet wood acts as wall paneling near the ordering counter, and reclaimed wooden planks create the bar-style seating that looks out the front windows toward South Grand. The patio doubles as a kitchen garden for hardy plants like peppers. It’s a fun touch, like the rooftop garden on the truck, and it’s an excellent place to relax with a beer and watch the foot traffic.
The chance to be part of a neighborhood was a big selling point for starting a bricks-and-mortar location, too—and we have no doubt Lulu’s is going to fit right in at its new South Grand home.
WHERE TO GO
Lulu’s Local Eatery 3201 S. Grand Blvd.’ 314.357.7717
Hours: 11:30am-9pm Mon, Wed.-Sat. Closed Tues. and Sun.
Photo credit: Jennifer Silverberg