With the sound of dogs barking in the background, Lourdes Nau – or Chef Lulu as she likes to be called – confirmed her plans to open her first restaurant Casa Borinqueña in just a few weeks. Right now she’s visiting Puerto Rico, where she was born and lived before moving to the United States in 2008, but says her 750-square-foot space on Shattuck Avenue between 62nd and 63rd Streets will be up and running by end of the first week of August. “I like that it’s small,” says Nau. “I won’t lose the personal touch I have with my clients.”
The menu will feature the same foods fans have come to know and love from its pop-up, meaning all foods remain vegan. Nau went to plants only at the beginning of 2020 and let his fans know via instagram she would also steer her affairs in that direction. There are new items on the list, however – for example, arroz mamposteao, which she compares to Puerto Rican fried rice, will be available on weekends. Nau takes pride in “veganizing” the dish, incorporating tons of vegetables and yellow rice. She is also in the process of applying for outdoor seating permits, and once that is done, she will focus on beer and wine permits, specifically to be able to sell Puerto Rican beer.
The energy in space, Nau predicts, will be like that of his pop-up. She wants to one day grow beyond the bright yellow space, which would give her the chance to serve more diners. For now, one of the ways it wants to grow its audience is by offering a “pay what you can” option once a week. On Tuesdays, she hopes to provide him with food, whether plant-based prawn mofongo or pastellitos, on a donation basis. “I want to open the doors to those who can’t afford vegan food. Vegan food can be very expensive,” says Nau. “I want to do something for a few hours where people can enjoy a nice healthy meal.”
Casa Borinqueña (6211 Shattuck Avenue in Oakland) is scheduled to open the first week of August. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week, subject to change.