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Baffled by LuLu's "apparent" popularity

Original post made by Burn Raybill, Atherton: West of Alameda, on Dec 14, 2006

When LuLu's opened on the Alameda here in west Menlo a little over a year ago, I was cautiously optimistic. Maybe even a little excited. Mexican food tops my list of favorites. 'Mex to Go' on the El Camino has been my regular stop. It is excellent in all areas.

But LuLu's is literally a stone's throw from where I toil 40 hours a week, and that convenient location has been very tempting. But, other than its location, LuLu's has been a crashing disappointment.

I would say I've been there 10 times since they opened. Had they been competent, my number of visits would be at least 10 times that. Every time I've been there, something has gone wrong. I was literally their first customer on the day they opened. The registers did not work. OK, I told myself, they'll get their sea legs. Logistics like that can be worked out, and no damage will be done if the food is good.

It ain't. I have ordered the Super Burrito each time. Often it is made incorrectly, the guacamole and sour creanm, for which I pay an extra buck, is usually left out. And of course, I don't discover this fact until I've eaten half the damn thing, making finsihing the second half a slow, slow burn, so to speak. The meat has never tasted fresh. I don't know for a fact that LuLu's recycles their meat from the previous day, I just know that it tastes that way. Tough and dry. And the service? Absolutely, inexplicably slow. Yet there is always plenty of help. I once counted nine heads behind the counter. I have on multiple occasions been the only person in there at 11:30am, and it still takes 10 minutes to make a burrito. Ten minutes! Burritos are assembly line stuff, quick and easy, or so they are at 'Mex to Go'. Not at LuLu's.

LuLu's is expensive as well. Their Super Burrito is $2 more than 'Mex to Go', not nearly as good, and takes 5 times as long to make.

So, after about 10 consecutive frustrating experiences with LuLu's, what prompts this rant? Today I spent 10 long minutes trying to talk myself out of giving them one more chance. Against my better judgment, I call ahead, waited the requisite 10 minutes, and strolled over. They had made the wrong burrito. No apology, in fact nothing was said to me as I waited ANOTHER ten minutes (there was one other patron in there) for the correct burrito to be assembled.

I have never ventured elsewhere on their menu, because if they can't make a staple (burrito) correctly or consistently, god knows what they'll do to something even remotely complex.

So, to recap, meat that does not taste fresh, head scratchingly slow service, inability to correctly execute the burrito, overpriced. A quadruple F- on the restaurant report card from this diner.

Anyone else have similar problems at LuLu's? It can't just be me, can it? The Burrito Karma Gods testing my patience, flogging me for my disloyalty to 'Mex to Go'?

Well, LuLu's has seen my last dollar, I promise. The mild inconvenience of driving down Santa Cruz to 'Mex to Go' is nothing compared to the frustration I feel now. How do they stay in business? At times they appear to be quite busy. A real head scratcher.

Comments (7)

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Posted by Mr. Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 14, 2006 at 1:14 pm

I bought food to go twice Lulu's shortly after it opened.

The food was unremarkable. What bothered me was the atmosphere. (I use the past tense because I haven't been back.)

It felt frantic in there, like there was not enough space and too many people, many, many of whom seemed to be behind the counter. That kind of vibe just bugs me.


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Posted by Titi
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 15, 2006 at 6:28 am

Couldn't agree more. I have been there 3 times and keep kicking myself each time I return. Extremely slow service. The menu is not terribly creative. Yet, they still manage to get a crowd. Amazing.


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Posted by Donna Con Brio
a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2006 at 7:08 am

The crowds are what I find most mind-boggling. Can so many people really prefer bland food to the zesty flavors of what's available at other local Mexican restaurants? The only thing I can figure out is that it's a real community hang, and there's something to be said for such places. I'm just not willing to spend a lot of money on mediocre food -- and wait an unreasonably long time to get it -- just so I can tap into some sense of community.


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Posted by Jenna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 2, 2007 at 4:43 pm

I have to agree, my burritto was all messed up. Dry becasue they forgot the sour cream and guac that I paid for. I like to see a new buisness suceed especially family run, so I hope they can pull thier heads out because it is a stones throw away from my work too.

Mex to go is really good though, they have great chilli rellenos (only on certain days) Celias doesn't impress me at all.


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Posted by SusieQ
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 3, 2007 at 2:42 pm

MexToGo's carnitas tacos are disappointing.


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Posted by Menlo Park resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 3, 2007 at 4:39 pm

MexToGo burritos are disappointing, too, at least the one I had. The service was great, the Mexican lemonade or whatever was great, but there was no tomato-based salsa and the burrito needed it. The very hot sauce -- the tan stuff in the stone bowl -- was way too hot.


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Posted by West Menlo Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 27, 2007 at 8:40 pm

Yes Lulu's is nothing special at all. I ate there twice when they were newly opened and I can't figure out why they are always so crowded given the mediocre food and bad service. The only explanation is location ...there simply aren't many restaurants on Alameda and any restaurant even one so average as Lulu's gets the crowds.


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