Brunch Buddies: Coca Café

This week I decided to opt for brunch over a bar. I wasn’t up for all the crazy people you meet at the bar and let’s face it, I was hungry. So, I found myself in Lawrenceville at Coca Café, a small restaurant whose breakfast packs quite the punch. This place boasts a ton of five star Yelp reviews, and after my visit I can definitely see why.

The location: Situated at the edge of Lower Lawrenceville, Coca Café is in the perfect hipster brunch location. The wait was quite a while but there was plenty to do and see as we roamed the gentrified streets. This location also puts you a nice distance away from campus, if that’s what you’re going for. Many students know about Lawrenceville but often don’t find themselves making it past Shadyside when considering brunch options.

The vibe: The restaurant itself is very small. I could probably count the number of tables on my two hands. This seems to be a trend for Pittsburgh restaurants though, so I did not find this terribly surprising. The decor and vibe was a bit whimsical and playful. There’s also some interesting art on the wall that you can’t help but look at.

The food: It is a café, so they also boast an extensive coffee and drink menu with something for everyone. Of course what you came to read about was the food, and it did not disappoint. One thing I liked about Coca Café was the portion sizes. They were filling and very manageable. I wasn’t overwhelmed with an IHOP style portion of food.

I had the challah french toast with melted brie, fig jam, and berries. I never knew how well brie went with sweet things until I tried this. It was the perfect balance of sweet but not too sweet and the brie was literally the icing on top (it was melted and kind of spread like icing too). Also, figs are not a terribly sweet fruit so it was a perfect balance. I wish I could have tried more things on the menu, because, while I opted for sweet, there were some strong savory options. There were also a few silly options, like the french toast covered in Cap’n Crunch cereal.

Lit or Nah: I don’t know how well this particular category pertains to brunch, but I’m going to say nah. Don’t get me wrong, the food was amazing and the place is definitely worth the trip, but it was a very calm brunch outing featuring a lot more families than millennials. I’m not sure if I need my brunch places to be over the top lit anyways. Overall, it was a quality restaurant, with some good food and fair prices, that I will definitely be visiting again.