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.
Another Story Bookshop and Arsenal Pulp Press present the Toronto launch of
Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers' Poetry
Wed, Oct 16th
1585 Dundas St West (at Brock)
Doors open at 6pm/ Event begins at 7pm
Free entrance / Fully accessible
Please note that reservations guarantee seating so book early and enjoy the show while exploring Lula’s delicious menus...
The dance party starts early at Lula every Friday with live music! Toronto percussionist Lady Son opens the night with a set of classic and original son.
🎁FREE concert!! (arrive before 8 pm)
🍝Reserve your table at ☎️416 588 0307 or firstname.lastname@example.org
⭕️ More Info: http://bit.ly/313ZhkM
One of the most arresting voices on the Canadian music scene, often drawing comparison...
☀️Take a trip to SUNNY CUBA without leaving Toronto!☀️
🌟Admission: $59 3-course dinner & show prix fixe or $15 at the door. Book your table ☎️416 588 0307 or email@example.com
🌺 More Info: http://bit.ly/2MutrbS
Marta Elena And Salsa Star
Composed of 10 members and led by vocalist Marta Elena, this group cultivates traditional Cuban rhythms such as son, mambo, rumba and cha-cha, merging t...
Expect hard-hitting, super-charged Nuyorican-style salsa with Luis Orbegoso & Alto Voltage for a night of high-energy repertoire!
💃🕺💃The complimentary beginners dance lesson with Dreyser Garcia is a perfect party starter and will set you up with some cool new dance moves that you can try next with the live band & DJ
DJ Santiago Valasquez will be spinning a dance floor friendly mix of sals...
Caliban Arts, Black Maple Records, with Trane Live present:
Fall/Winter Season Launch
Critically Acclaimed and Award Winning Dub Artiste, Musician and Songwriter Michael St. George's Toronto EP Release of "SONGPOET One"
with Maurice Gordon and The Soul/Ska Quintet and
Live on stage interview with Writer and Reggae Historian, Klive Walker
Showtime: Monday, November 4th at 7:30pm (...