Editor’s Note: Paula’s Cafe is permanently closed.
Downtown lunch options favor the extremes: impress-the-client hot spots and grab-and-go joints. But Paula’s Café is in a class of its own. (Fortunately, it’s still holding on, amid the incessant Fourth Street construction.) The menu includes the standard line-up of soups, salads, and diner-style sandwiches (turkey club, ham and Swiss, chicken salad, and a Reuben), but the real stunners are owner Paula Kirk’s signature turkey chili and her famous seven-minute burger. She takes scratch-made to heart, and the toasted, vinegary crunch of what the menu calls a “Totally Authentic” Cuban sandwich—stacked with ham, thinly sliced pork loin, and pickles—stands as testament to that love. But I’m all about the burger. A half-pound of hand-pattied Black Angus ground chuck spends seven minutes in heaven (OK, on the grill) resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth burger, layered on a Shadeau wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, and your choice of cheese, mushrooms, bacon, or even a fried egg (pro tip: embrace the egg). Now if only those seven minutes didn’t feel like the longest of your life.
Paula’s Café, 41 E. Fourth St., downtown, (513) 381-3354. Lunch Mon–Fri.
Originally published in the September 2014 issue