My favorite mocha came from behind the counter of the Mercantile Coffee House. With its sudden closing, the hunt was on for one that could at least meet it halfway in Dallas. The ideal result came much more quickly than I expected, and I even found a meal to go along with it.
Buli Café offers the Oak Lawn area enough for its visitors to indulge in: Aside from an impeccable mocha or black coffee, there are also sandwiches, cakes and assorted baked goods.
Unless there’s a quick crowd, you’ll most likely be welcomed by whoever is behind the counter. You might be a bit rushed to make a decision as you look at the boards above him, but as he gives you time with the menu, you can narrow your choices, which should be centered on the sandwiches.
These sandwiches can’t be missed. What guarantees that your lunch will be good is the Panini bread that is almost crisp on the outside and savory and soft on the inside.
A bag of chips, a paper-wrapped pickle slice and the hand-held meal is all arranged into an old-fashioned tin. (At least, they seem old-fashioned: There may be a current pop band on the pink box, but I would bet there’s a chance of tetanus if you were to cut your finger on it.)
When my eyes scanned the menu, they immediately went to the two pastrami options: the New York or the Oak Lawn. I narrowed it down by skipping the sauerkraut on the New York and went for the Oak Lawn variation.
I let myself order the sandwich, despite the meat being pink turkey pastrami. But the melted Muenster and cheddar cheeses around it helped fight my stereotype of the meat significantly.
This sandwich would have disappeared from its paper-lined box had it been without the tomato, less-than-crisp romaine and copious amount of mayonnaise.
My friend had the cream-o-chicken, which had grilled chicken breast, cream cheese, bacon, baby spinach, basil, tomato and apricot-habanero chutney. A bit much is going on in this sandwich, but it plays it safe by having cream cheese and bacon in the mix.
We both opted for the iced tea, which proved to be the perfect choice for anyone feeling that she’s dying of thirst–you can get about three glasses’ worth in the serving.
For dessert, there are cased cakes that are delivered from Massimo’s Italian Bakery. Don’t let the poor lighting in the case fool you—this cake is moist enough that it almost fails to support the frosting. What may be a glob of a mess on your plate is nevertheless a delicious one.
Whether you go in for breakfast or skip the cake and lunch, the staff here makes a good mocha, chocolaty enough to be indulgent, but it doesn’t drown the all-so-important caffeine. Of course, the iced tea is a safe choice if you’re the type who refuses to drink a hot drink on a sweltering day.
The service that brews and serves here is some of the best I’ve seen at a walk-up order. They’re so friendly, it’s worth the drive over there for me to order a water and have their attitudes brighten my day.
Location: 3908 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas, 75219, 214-528-5410
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Ambiance: Clean, small dining
Alcohol: none served