I admit it. I’m terrible at keeping in touch with friends. Between long distances and hectic schedules, it’s rare that my best friends and I are on the same page. So after graduating college, my closest sorority sisters and I made a pact to visit one another in each of our respective cities. We’ve done D.C., New York City, and Winston-Salem, N.C., but it had been nearly six months since we last saw each other. So after three months of planning (is this what being an adult is?) we finally met up in Pittsburgh, Penn. to visit our dear pal Maggie.
After a long weekend of rooftop cocktail hours and dancing on elevated surfaces, we needed a brunch to unwind and catch up. Maggie selected Coca Cafe, a cute restaurant in Lawrenceville. The restaurant had a warm, retro feel to it and the staff was incredibly welcoming. Despite not taking reservations, the hostess called us twice before our arrival to tell us there was a table available. The service was fantastic.
We were surprised to find no alcohol on the menu. Coca Cafe lets you BYOB for just $5 but as we were pressed for time (and woefully hungover from the night before) we did not bring anything. Plus, the fresh-pressed juice menu looked amazing. Unfortunately, our waitress informed us, the juicer was broken.
Instead we quenched our thirsts with chai tea lattes, iced coffee, and a raspberry hibiscus lemonade. The lattes were frothy, with the perfect amount of cinnamon. The lemonade was refreshing and light.
In keeping with Bitches Who Brunch tradition, I demanded that we try the doughnuts. Oh my lord, I am glad I did. We were served two buttermilk doughnuts with blackberry glaze, hot n’ fresh out of the oven. They had a beautiful magenta color, and tasted amazing, with a hint of lemon. We all agreed they were outstanding and wish we had ordered more.
For an entree, I ordered the olive bread topped with seasonal heirloom tomatoes, fried eggs and fresh pesto. The pesto was phenomenal. For sides, the homefries were just okay but the fruit cup had too much of the dreaded honeydew. Megan tried the challah french toast with melted brie, fig jam, and fresh berries. The cheese and fig spread (which tasted just like a Fig Newton) was a perfect complement to the sweetness of the berries. Usually I can only bear a few bites of french toast, due to the high sugar content, but Megan actually skipped the syrup so as not to ruin the jam. It was just that good.
Torn between two dishes, I recommended that Kelly go for one of the most unique options of the menu – half a papaya with blueberry yogurt and fruit. The colors were gorgeous and the combination was delicious. On the side, the egg scramble was fluffy and cheesy. However, the zucchini bread with chocolate chips was her favorite part of the meal.
Maggie opted for the avocado omelet topped with apple smoked bacon, muenster cheese and a homemade salsa. That fresh pico de gallo salsa and avocado gave it a southwestern vibe. She too, was served the icky honeydew-laden fruit cup but her sourdough toast was tasty.
Faced with an egg-heavy menu, Langley went for the corn pancakes with blueberry glaze and a balsamic drizzle. The flapjacks were incredibly moist, better than most cornbreads we’ve had. The glaze saturated the pancakes so well that syrup wasn’t even necessary.
After nearly two hours rehashing our weekend, it was time to catch flights home. We realized how lucky we were to have walked right in earlier as the line was out the door by the time we left. With great service and unique offerings, it’s easy to see how a table here would be in high demand.
The Bitches Say: A. The warm, inviting cafe offers a diverse, colorful menu with a lot of homemade touches.
3811 Butler St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Coca Cafe serves brunch Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.