It’s hard to go thirsty for long at the new and highly-anticipated Lulu’s Allston on Cambridge Street. This new-meets-old gastropub, dispenses an ever-changing lineup of craft beers through its 50 taps, while 50 more bottled beers boast small production brews chosen from the crew’s expertly curated list. Pair this huge selection with a menu of local and seasonally focused elevated pub grub from Oklahoma-native and executive chef Sarah Wade, and you’ve got what seems like a can’t-miss formula for contemporary gastropub success.
At least it hasn’t missed the mark since co-owners Peter Culpo, his nephew Joshua Culpo and business partners Justin Dalton-Ameen and Mark Murphy, and Wade first tried out their beer and southern comfort food-centric idea last week.
There are few walls at Lulu’s. No, really, there aren’t many outside walls. Every seat along the border of this street-corner bar/restaurant is essentially on the sidewalk. The one non-load-bearing façade that encloses the space that was once Café Brazil, may as well not even be described as a wall, with its large, completely open windows sitting atop. This, you think to yourself, is what all present and future gastropubs should look like, where there are no visible boundaries between your glass of ale and the street. Because of it, the place seems to possess a magnetic pull. Whether passing by vehicle or foot, you see that everyone’s here, curvy vessels of beer in hand, homemade fried chicken plates between them—so why aren’t you?
If you’re going to order a pint from the well-curated list of 50 craft beers on tap (go with the 21st Amendment or Ballast Point Sculpin), it seems wrong to not also get the burger, pardon me, “The Badass Burger.” The patty is as thick as a steak, cooked to a juicy medium as pink as your inner cheek, with a necessary fried egg on top. And if you’re going to do that, the fries are a necessity. Each hand cut stick is rendered crispy—as all fries should be. Counter that with maybe the fresh Cobb salad, a simple plate of crisp greens harboring hand-cut avocado wedges and grilled chicken freckled by the smoky char of an actual fire—an overachieving salad if there’s such a thing.
Lulu’s also does the familiar restaurant tropes of Buffalo wings and assorted flatbreads extremely well, but it’s the new bistro’s very reasonably priced bar “Bites” ($3) that prove the revelation on Chef Wade’s southern-infused menu. The warm, perfectly baked, pretzel bread rolls with the delectable accompanying in-house cranberry-thyme beer mustard that wasn’t too sweet, too tangy or too biting.
But the revelation isn’t the beer, the mouthwatering southern-style flavors (all crafted out of Wade’s travels and cooking spells down south) or even the restaurant’s design; it’s the Mexican Cheetos, a dish that is deceptively simple but oh-so-ingenious. Round, wheel-shaped ‘duritos’, dusted with powdered cheese seasoning with a satisfying skull-rattling crunch make the Mexican Cheetos – inspired by the deep-fried round pieces of pasta that Mexican street vendors usually serve in a plastic bag splattered with hot sauce – a unique and standout staple to the menu.
Lulu’s Allston – 421 CAMBRIDGE ST, ALLSTON, MA 02134 – is now open for lunch, dinner, or some late night grub any day of the week. See the full menu here.