Lula Lounge was formerly a Portuguese catering hall-slash-sports bar called Hollywood Nights.
The owners comes from drastically varied backgrounds - Jose Ortega was previously an illustrator, Jose Nieves was a real estate agent (and Ortega's landlord), while Tracey Jenkins worked as the managing editor of a literary magazine.
The purchasing deal was completed over espresso in what must have been a record five minutes and seemed at first to be a perfect match - the space was big and cheap but they quickly realized they had no idea what they were doing.
"We were just making it up," Ortega tells me, "and we drew from our friends: one said 'I'll be the chef,' another, 'I'll be the bartender,' but at first it was a disaster."
Perhaps it might have something to do with their screening process, with their head bartender having been selected for holding a major in Dostoevsky studies - a strange prerequisite for mixing drinks.
After going through several menu edits, they settled on what Jenkins terms "Latin soul food," such as vegetarian tamales and chicken dressed in a bourbon barbecue sauce with traditional Latin rice.
Dancing takes place Friday and Saturday evenings, following dinner and lessons from professional salsa teachers. As for the rest of the week, the space is open if there's a band booked, although they also frequently host fundraisers.
The space is dim, faintly lit by coloured paper lanterns and neon chandeliers. The large stage sits at the back of the dining room, and tables are lined on either side of a central corridor where the dance lessons take place.
The musicians range from jazz, to electronic, to big band, with each night offering a different flavor of Latin-inspired tunes.
Lula Lounge offers an array of tropical drinks in which Havana Club rum figures heavily, martinis like the Miss Lula ($9.30) - a mix of vodka, lychee liqueur and pineapple juice - shooters for $5.75 and specialty coffee.
Mojitos ($9.30) are considered their crown jewel, but to my taste buds, the simple mojito is not as flavourful as I typically prefer. It tastes strongly of only Havana Club rum and soda water rather than striking that ideal balance between mint, sugar, and liquor, but other varieties like the Green Apple or Cherry Bomb mojitos might fare better.
Domestic beers run between $4 for Pabst and $6.45, while imports top out at $6.45 for Guinness. They also offer a Sunday brunch with live music and a salsa lesson from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
☀️🌴🇧🇷Afterwork party with a taste of sunny BRAZIL!
This week award winning singer Felipe Veloso from Belo Horizonte, Brazil will perform songs by artists such as Gusttavo Lima, Wesley Safadao, Zé Neto & Cristiano as well as Henrique & Juliano.
Doors Open: 6:30 pm / Show Starts: 7:30 pm.
$45 - 3 course dinner & show prix fixe / FREE admission (arrive before 8:00 pm.) Reserve ☎️ 416 588 ...
☀️Go on a CUBAN VACATION, without leaving the heart of Toronto!🌴🎷🎵🎶
Led by percussionist Jorge Luis Papiosco. This all-star Cuban Toronto line up bring a contemporary sound to traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms.
Take the complimentary dance lesson with Sarita Leyva at 9 pm and try your new steps with the live band & DJ Jimmy Suave
🍝🥂$59 dinner & show prix fixe or $15 at the door.
🌴 Tropical, fresh, funky and with attitude!😎 Salseros with Attitude (SWA) led by Jairo Acuña, Alex Naar and Andres Magno bring to the stage a blend of "salsa-fied" chart toppers along with salsa classics.
🎯$59 dinner & show prix fixe or $20 at the door.
💃💃🕺Take the complimentary d...
Free Afterwork Global Party!!
🇨🇺 De-stress from the work week with vocalist and violonist Yosvani Castañeda & the Cuban Swag with a set of classic Cuban repertoire!
🎁FREE admission!! (Arrive before 8 pm)
Reserve your dinner table at ☎️ 416 588 0307 or email@example.com
🌺More Information: http://bit.ly/2P4M5LR
Admission includes salsa lesson at 9 pm and live salsa at 10:15 pm.
Want a break from all the stressful events going on in the world? Do you want to treat yourselves to a spectacular evening of music and help support a worthy cause all at the same time? Because it's that time of year again! Come on out for an evening that is guaranteed to leave you smiling. It's the 14th Annual Patsy Cline Birthday Show!
On Thursday, Sept 5th Heather Morgan hosts an incredib...
Another Story Bookshop and Random House of Canada present the Toronto launch
Doors open at 6pm/ Event begins at 7pm; Free Entrance
Please note that reservations guarantee seating so book early and enjoy the show while exploring Lula’s delicious tapas and cocktail menus as well as our wine and beer offerings. Visit lula.ca, or call 416-588-0307 to reserve.
With special guests Canisia Lu...