41 East 4th St
First things first: it took me ages to try the Garden Burger at Paula’s Cafe because every time I tried to get in I couldn’t get a table and didn’t have time to wait for one to open. Plenty of people will wait, however.
My friend Jennifer and I made plans to meet up for lunch recently and, knowing we’d never get into Paula’s during the noontime rush, decided to meet up at 11:30 a.m. and hope for the best. We were lucky – we grabbed the last table available, and within minutes the few remaining stools at the counter were also gone. After that it was standing room only, with a couple dozen people waiting around for tables and/or carryout. There is no distinction between those ordering takeaway and those waiting for tables, which can lead to confusion, and if you have the misfortune to sit at a table near the front of the restaurant – as we did – the crowd of onlookers waiting for your table give off a distinctly vulture vibe. Craziness for sure, but luckily the food is worth the hassle.
The restaurant makes everything from scratch daily, and the quality is evident with each bite. Their Garden Burger was certainly was juicy and flavorful, although as a vegetarian offering it is fairly pedestrian. More sassy and interesting is their quiche – which tends to fly out the door at an alarming rate – so be sure to either phone ahead for carryout or get there early.
As well as the Garden Burger and the quiche & salad special, Paula’s also offers a cheese sandwich - Amish Swiss or American served hot or cold with a variety of fixin’s – and on Thursdays and Fridays their soup of the day is vegetarian. Thursday’s special is hearty vegetable and Friday’s is tomato bisque, with a cup running $2.95 and a bowl $5.25.