In January we told you that Lola Coffee, the Roosevelt Row coffeeshop from one of the city's best-known roasters Daniel Wayne, was headed for The Yard. And whether you love or hate Sam Fox's giant dining and hangout space on Seventh Street, you're going to want to come check out the new Lola Coffee.
There are quite a few reasons, not the least of which is the restaurant has brought back some of the most popular dishes from Lola Tapas, the restaurant Wayne opened with his then-wife Felicia Ruiz in 2005. It closed in 2010.
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But the tapas are not even close to all this spot has going for it. The most obvious draw is the location and space, a beautifully lit room with high ceilings, exposed brick, and stylish design. There are large community tables made from reused car lifts running down the center of the coffeeshop/restaurant and a tall wooden bar divides the indoor room from Lola's large patio. There are large garage door-style windows all along one side, allowing for plenty of light.
In the back there's a cozy living room-like nook with couches, benches, and power outlets (always important for those working on laptops). The patio has just about every kind of seating you could want: community tables, lounge areas, and benches. It also provides a front row seat to Culinary Dropout's patio/game area.
It's a great place to enjoy a great cup of coffee, which is exactly what they're brewing.
Lola co-owner Walter Clarke tells us they're roasting all the beans on-site in a red, small-batch roaster you can see nestled in Lola's open kitchen. The coffee menu includes all the usual stuff: drip coffee, pour overs, lattes and other espresso drinks, as well as a few specialty beverages. If you want one of those we suggest the Cafe Borgia, a perfectly-balanced mix of chocolate and tangerine.
For real coffee enthusiasts, Lola offers a few truly unique things. The first one you're likely to notice will be the Oji cold drip coffee machines. There are two of them sitting on either end of the Lola's bar and according to Clarke, they're the best machines available for making large batches of cold brewed coffee. He also says the two Japanese-made machines (which cost upwards of $10,000 each) at Lola are the only two in Arizona.
Clarke says Lola has also brought the Valley its first siphon bar, a unique and visually impressive way to brew coffee. The first one in the United States was installed at the Bluebottle Café in San Francisco and according to coffee professionals including Devin Spletter at Lola, the method makes a near-perfect cup of coffee.
Spletter demonstrated the process for us explaining that the siphon pot is comprised of two glass globes, one of which contains water and one of which contains coffee. As the water heats, the water vapor pushes water into the upper globe. The grounds are then be stirred, very carefully, before the coffee gets siphoned back into a round, beaker-looking pot. Then it's ready to drink.
And if that hasn't gotten your inner coffee geek excited, how about this one: Lola at The Yard is serving kopi luwak. Yeah, that's the super-rare (and expensive) coffee that's made from beans digested by Asian palm civets. As Clarke tells it, it's through complete luck that he met someone who's able to supply him with green kopi luwak beans, which are then roasted in-house at Lola.
The coffee has been touted as one of most expensive beverages in the world and though Clarke says he hasn't decided exactly how much a cup of it will cost at Lola, you can expect to be paying somewhere between $12 and $15 a cup.
See also: Best Tapas Phoenix 2009 - Lola Tapas
And if you're looking for a bite to complement you cup of cat-poop coffee, Lola's got that too. During the day there will be light breakfast and lunch offerings, as well as housemade pastries and small bites. We tried a slice of the spinach and bacon quiche and were happily surprised by the top-quality bacon and perfectly crumbly crust.
But that's not what we'll be back for. We'll be back for the Lola Night menu, which becomes available around 5 p.m. when the spot switches over from coffeeshop to a full service restaurant. We didn't try any of the alcoholic beverages but at the custom-made metal bar you'll find a list of red, white, and sparkling wines priced between $9 and $20 a glass. There are also local and craft beers and few cocktails. Fans of the old Lola Tapas will be happy to hear they're also serving the restaurant's signature red and white sangria for $7.50 a glass.
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The tapas food menu includes 11 items and one Tapa of the Day, each priced between $6.50 and $16 a plate. Don't skip the Gambas as Pil-Pil (one of the dishes you might recognize from Lola Tapas), which features tender, marinated shrimp in a sauce of garlic, chile, and smoked paprika. You'll be wanting to use the crusty white bread to soak up the extra marinade. The same goes for the Champinones en salsa Verde, a healthy serving of mushrooms dressed in a delicious white wine sauce.
Lola at The Yard 5632 N. 7th St.
Sunday - Thurday: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.