STU Dines: Cafe Loka

Cafe Loka, 343 York St.

I’ve always been one to root for the underdog. From the moment I started working in a kitchen, I was at the bottom of the barrel. Cafe Loka reminds me of an underdog with a heart of gold. It’s located where Cedar Tree Cafe used to be on York, across from the liquor store. Blink and you’ll miss this wonderful new location.

What it’s like: Once I found it, I noticed the specials board outside. This is important as Cafe Loka is not located directly downtown, so it at­tracted me right away. The kitchen and dining room are open concept and this created an intimate atmosphere and homestyle feel.

How it tasted: I am a panini fanatic by nature, so I was delighted to see many sandwich options. The Montreal smoked meat panini, side salad and maple dressing was just the kick I needed to start my after­noon. The salad was surprising – I had never thought to make a maple flavor for a salad.

How I was treated: The service seemed to stem from a family-type organization. The kitchen was very small but the older women seemed to really enjoy their jobs and it seemed to motivate the rest of the staff. I left with a smile on my face and made sure they knew I would be back.

How much? The sandwiches were the most expensive menu item and much like the Cedar Tree you’re not going to pay over $12. It’s a good deal for a great coffee and lunch.

It’s worth your time so check it out, and don’t forget to tip your bartender!

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