Restaurant Review: Cafe Lola

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I'm not the only one to love Lola, of course. Their lunch-rush crowd is fierce, with lines stretching back to the door and a cramped dining room that's nearly always filled between 11:30 and 1:30.

Luckily, the cooks whip up orders quickly and the counter staff hands them out efficiently, so there's never too much of a wait - even if the logjam of to-go orderers standing around awkwardly near the counter is sometimes a bit of a drag.

There's a nice big menu with things to suit almost any mood, from salads (the fun Spicy Thai Noodle Salad is an office favorite) to quesadillas to super-thin-crust pizzas to lots of sandwiches.

But my favorite go-to lunch on cold and dreary winter afternoons is a simple and classic combo: their grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Grilled Cheese, $3.50

There are basically three components to a grilled cheese sandwich, right? Bread, cheese and butter. So I'm continually amazed by the transformative powers of a quick griddling.

Lola's version is particularly stellar - a massive, melty miracle worker of a sandwich, capable of improving my mood on even the bleakest of days. Plus, at just $3.50, dirt cheap!

They slice impossibly wide loaves of Italian bread into thick, squat, crusty pieces, then load on lots of shredded cheddar and mozzarella, oil the bread and toast it to a nice crisp.

The amount of cheese packed into this sandwich is pretty impressive. If you order yours for dine-in and dig in right away, you'll be rewarded with a gooey, stretchy, pizza-cheese-like experience. And your hands will get greasy while eating this thing - mark of a good lunch to me.

For an extra $1.25, you can add bacon and tomato. It's a fine upgrade, but not necessary.

Especially if you order a cup of tomato-basil soup on the side. This bright-red yet still creamy soup is heavy on the chunks of chopped red tomatoes and torn fresh herbs. And it's a little on the salty side, but that side effect is lessened if you use it as a dipping sauce for your sandwich rather than sipping it straight.

The soup isn't as magical as the grilled cheese, but it's tasty and it'll get the warm-your-bones job done.

Grilled Cheese, $3.50

Cup of Tomato Basil Soup, $2.95

Total: $6.45

Cafe Lola

12 E. Broad St., Downtown