Over winter break, I had the pleasure of experiencing a quaint, hidden cafe in Auburn. As an avid cafe lover, and lover of all things food, finding this cute small restaurant was the best thing that could have happened to me that Wednesday. Located on the bottom floor of the public library along Spring St., down a small ramp and (on that particular day) a few steps past a sheet of ice, the doors to Cafe LA invite you with an implication of hot roasted coffee and homemade bread just inside.
For some reason, I never know how to behave when walking into a new building – especially a restaurant. Do we seat ourselves? Where is the bathroom? Can we ask for a table by the window? These are the things I worry about. Since the cafe is so small, there was only one or two people working, and the waitress who approached us was very welcoming (and yeah, we got the window table). If I were to compare it to Bates’ favorite cafe, Forage, I would say Cafe LA has less of a homey, crunchy vibe to it but maintains the same great service. There were no homemade bagels or board games, but it was still a success. The exposed brick walls seemed to absorb the tables and countertops into one, giving the true sense of being almost underground while still keeping it contemporary.
Another stressor I endure in a new restaurant is the menu. I get so overwhelmed by menus that require me to flip multiple pages just to get to the section that offers entrees with fries on the side (because let us be real, no one considers food a meal unless there are some sort of fried potatoes on the side). Although Cafe LA’s menu was simple, it offered a diverse array of options. Everything from breakfast sandwiches and vegan wraps to grilled sandwiches and homemade soup was available; it was clear that this place cared about what they are putting on the tables and took the time to do it the right way.
I settled on the grilled chicken sandwich on homemade sourdough bread. The sandwich was made up of pulled chicken, mozzarella cheese, red onions, tomato, pesto, and chipotle mayo that ended up being a little too spicy for my sensitive taste buds. It was the perfect size for my brunch/early lunch appetite. That is probably what I liked most about my experience – I left feeling totally content, not too full, not still hungry and with no complaints. And the bathroom was super nice with a cool hand dryer but a pretty complicated door handle and lock.
Overall, I was very satisfied with my visit to Cafe LA and I know it will not be the last. The Lewiston-Auburn community has so many hidden treasures that offer culture, conversation, and experience. It is only a five-minute drive from campus if you hit all the red lights, so do not be a fool – go there. You will not regret it. Oh, they also cater.