On a lonely corner on the outskirts of downtown, Café Loka sits only a few kilometres away from campus. Like most restaurants I’ve reviewed this year, it doesn’t look like much from the outside. But the inside was warm and inviting. If I had to describe it in one word, I’d choose “hipster.”
Colourful, unorganized chalk boards assault you (in the best possible way) with specials and menu items as you walk through the door. The teeny-tiny kitchen and espresso bar are smack in the front of the restaurant. Everything is made in plain sight.
The walls are painted in bright warm colours and there are a few scattered tables. In a little nook off to the side there are two wicker chairs with plushy cushions around a table. If it wasn’t for the indie and hip-hop music blaring out of the kitchen, I’d say it was the ideal place to get caffeinated and cram in some extra work.
Only two staff members were working, one seemed to be on her way out after the lunch rush. The young man helping me was enthusiastic and welcoming.
After chatting with him a bit, I found out they pride themselves on the customization of orders. Vegans and carnivores alike could probably find something to munch on here.
After spending a few minutes looking over the menu, I asked about their wraps. I was only a little peckish – mostly stopping in to try the coffee. I ordered one of their “mini” wraps and was given a few options for meat. I was also sure to snag a chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
I squared up my bill at the counter right away before taking a seat in the corner. Shortly after, my salted caramel latté joined my cookie. The latté was as advertised and you could definitely taste the salted caramel flavour. The employee told me it had been sweetened, but offered to sweeten it up for me if I wanted. It was perfect as is.
I got a few solid minutes of studying in before my mini meat wrap joined the party. It was a simple wrap pressed like a panini. It had chicken, bacon, cheese with some broccoli and cauliflower mixed in. On the side was a seasoned mayo for dipping. I devoured the little sandwich in only a few bites but it hit the spot. The cheese was gooey and stringy and made sure the wrap didn’t fall apart on me. I made quick work of the cookie too.
As a cookie fiend, I’ve rarely met a cookie I wouldn’t readily devour. The same could be said for this one. On the other hand, it had been refrigerated so it was cold and crumbly. I couldn’t help but imagine how much better it would’ve been right out of the oven.
Altogether, my mini-lunch only cost roughly $13 with tax and tip. The latté cost about as much as the cookie and wrap combined. If you’re truly craving a delicious coffee treat, it’s totally worth it. If the parking in the area wasn’t so terrible or the weather so cold, I’d go back all the time.
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