To the tune of dogs barking in the background, Lourdes Nau — or Chef Lulu as she likes to be called — confirmed she plans to open her first restaurant Casa Borinqueña in just a few weeks. At the moment she’s visiting Puerto Rico, where she was born before moving to the United States as a baby, but says her 750-square-foot space on Shattuck Avenue between 62nd and 63rd Streets will be up and running by the end of the first week of August. “I like that it’s small,” Nau says. “I won’t lose the personal touch I have with my customers.”
The menu will feature the same food fans have come to know and love from her pop-up, which means all of the food remains vegan. Nau went plants-only in early 2020 and let her fans know via Instagram she’d take her business in that direction, as well. There are some new items on the roster, though — for example, arroz mamposteao, which she compares to Puerto Rican fried rice, will be available on the weekends. Nau is proud to “veganize” the dish, incorporating loads of vegetables and yellow rice. She’s also in the process of applying for outdoor seating permits, and once that’s done she’ll turn her attention to beer and wine permitting, specifically so she can sell Puerto Rican beer.
The energy in the space, Nau predicts, will be just like that of her pop-up. She does want to grow beyond the bright yellow space someday, which would give her the chance to serve more diners. For now, one way she wants to broaden her audience is with a “pay what you can’’ option once a week. On Tuesdays, she hopes to provide her food, whether it be plant-based shrimp mofongo or pastellitos, on a donation basis. “I want to open the doors for those who can’t afford vegan food. Vegan food can be really pricey,” Nau says. “I want to do something for a few hours where people can enjoy a good, healthy meal.”
Casa Borinqueña (6211 Shattuck Avenue in Oakland) expects to open in the first week of August. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner 1-8 p.m seven days a week, subject to change.