Barista Island

Dining_LulusMidtownYears ago it occurred to me that thoroughfares leading to freeways should have drive-up coffee stations. I could get my first fix of caffeine safely sitting in the parking lot that was otherwise known as Hwy 101, and be primed to leap into the workday.
We have a few such establishments in Santa Cruz, and when the tiny shack in the Whole Foods parking lot was torn down, I appreciated the sign that hinted at a bigger and better replacement.

And so was born Midtown Lulu’s where you can obtain a handmade cup of joe from the comfort of your car, and the attractive olive-colored island now includes walk-up service as well.

Locally sourced treats such as a selection of Kerrie Kreations includes the famous chocolate chip cookies ($1) made with semi-sweet morsels from Burlingame’s Guittard chocolate company. YUM of Scotts Valley provides gluten-free scones, cookies and muffins.

On a recent warm afternoon I stepped up to the window to see what was for lunch. I spied sparkling sugar-sprinkled scone triangles ($2), chocolate-filled croissants ($2.50) and the familiar line of equipment used to brew specialty coffee drinks. Although originally planning to serve salads and sandwiches, the main course selections were Vegetarian or Sausage Breakfast Burritos ($4.95). Warning: these supple packages are best eaten at the kiosk’s umbrella-shaded cafe tables, or re-heated at your destination. With the first bite, melted cheese and juices oozed from the confines of the soft flour tortilla. Scrambled egg was flavored with green chilies, red bell peppers, refried beans, and sweet rounds of link sausages. Although seemingly small, I found it very filling.

A large New Orleans Iced Coffee ($3.75) offered the perfect cooling counterpoint. Strong coffee brewed with bitter chicory root was sweetened with vanilla and enriched with creamy whole milk.

Lulu’s Midtown, 925 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Open 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. on weekdays, and at 7 a.m. weekends.

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