Lulo Tapas and Wine Bar

At Lulo Hawthorn, you can cross oceans and sample the Spanish-influenced delights of South America via an array of enticing tapas dishes and share plates. Alternatively, order a cocktail or glass of full-bodied red, hop on a bar stool and watch the world stroll past on Glenferrie Road.


Location: 798 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, VIC 3122 Ph: (03) 9818 8321

There are few things that make me happier than the words – Tapas and Wine Bar. And at Lulo Hawthorn, the tapas run to both the familiar – Fried Calamari ($28), anyone? – to the more unexpected. A great example of the latter being the Patacone (3pc $20) – an addictive medley of Fried Plantain, Grilled Corn, Avocado, Smoked Tomato and Coriander & Lime Salsa.

Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn can be a bit hit and miss, in our humble opinion. Heaving during the day, due to the likes of Samurai for bargain Japanese, Laksa Garden for filling Malaysian and Mr & Mrs Banh Mi for a quick-grab Vietnamese. But as soon as the sun goes down, the strip quietens. Unless you’re heading out for Levain Doughnuts, the Lido Cinema, or a Colombian accented dinner at Lulo.

The Space

Very hip. Without seeming to try.

Personally, my heart skips when I see a long, well-stocked bar, taking up room in a restaurant. And at Lulo, the bar is definitely a feature. As are the very cool, but equally friendly and informative tattooed bar tenders. As I said, everything about Lulo is on point.

Lulo Hawthorn - Bar and Dining

The dining space has a moody South American warmth. Clever lighting under the counter crowning the bar is matched with clusters of pendant bulbs and strips along the top of the wine racks. The effect is to give a golden glow to the terracotta notes and distressed, pale plaster on the walls.

However, the star of the interior design is the gorgeous femme fatal who graces both the sign outside the restaurant, and the wall in the front dining area. Raven-haired, curvaceous and a vision in red and black ruffles, she embodies Lulo – Colombian slang for a ‘Sexy Woman’. Incidentally, Head Chef Matt Waldron’s wife is Colombian – so both the name and the culinary leanings of the menu make total sense.

If tapas get you excited, see our reviews of Spanish institution MoVida Melbourne and her sibling eatery MoVida Next Door.

Lulo - Red Lady Mural

On a busy night, there are a handful of wooden tables set on the pavement outside, to lap up the charms of Glenferrie Road after dark.

The Food

Spanish tapas spiked with the passion of South American cuisine.


What could be nicer than starting a meal with a crisp Beer and a bowl of Sweet Potato & Plantain Crisps ($12) with Avocado Salsa? Honestly, I’ve no idea why us Aussies have been so slow to embrace the starchy attractions of the plantain. Every time I eat it, I love it more.


And why not continue on with a fresh, lively plate of Petuna Ocean Trout ($26)? Here, blushing petals of fish are cured with Pink Grapefruit, then dotted with Peruvian Chilli, Avocado & Radish. It’s a fabulous way to kick start your taste buds, ready for the main event.

Plates To Share

Mouths tingling and expectations raised, we dive straight into the Colombian Empanada ($16 for 2pc).

They don’t disappoint. Delicious, crumbling pastry gives way to a flavour-packed Chicken & Potato filling. Everything is then taken to the next level by a glorious Aji Coriander Salsa.

With these, we try Marinita’s Croquettes ($20 for 4pc). Now I’ve yet to meet a Croquette that I haven’t adored, and these are right up there. Apparently nicknamed ‘Lil Piggies’, these fried spheres of temptation consist of Plantain with an unctuous Cheese middle, tumbled in Crispy Pork. These come on a fruity grilled Pineapple Salsa. They are stellar.

Alongside these, we order the Tempura Cauliflowerettes ($20 for 3pc). They hit the table, soft chunks of pale Cauliflower, encased in an airy Tempura batter which makes the dish look like a plate of clouds. Even better, they recline on an inspired umami-kissed Miso Pumpkin Puree which works brilliantly with the Cauli. Then to complete a really smart tapas, there’s a scattering of Almonds, Pepitas, flowers of Goat’s Cheese and Beetroot.

Lulo Hawthorn - Cauliflowerettes

Mains To Share

Here at Eatability, we are suckers for Crispy Skin Pork Belly ($40). At Lulo, the pork flesh is giving and succulent and sits in a glistening pool of Mushroom Ponzu, Guava & Hibiscus. It’s rich and complex and we devour it in seconds.

When we were shown to our table, a Salt Cod Gratin dish had caught our collective eyes on the Specials Board. Again, is proves to be a great choice with fat, hearty chunks of moist fish nestling under a golden crumb. The ratio of protein to sauce is just right, too.

Lulo - Table of Mains

As we have a devout carnivore in our group, the Wagyu Picanha ($52) is a no-brainer. This slab of Char-Grilled Wagyu 8+ is still bloody and comes with a Spicy Chimmi Churri Salsa. The slices melt in the mouth to leave a deep, meaty flavour and the Salsa has a good heft of bite.

Lulo Hawthorn - Wagyu Picanha

Vegetables & Sides

Much to the meat-eater’s horror, vegetables are compulsory, in my opinion.

And good job too, as the Charred Lettuce ($16) side dish that we plump for is delightful in its simplicity. Halves of Cos Lettuce, shown just enough heat to make them interesting, doused in a Caper & Pepitas Vinaigrette and covered in a snow of grated Cheese.

Lulo Hawthorn - Gratin & Charred Lettuce

Finally, let’s talk about that much-loved tapas staple – the Potatas Bravas ($18).

At Lulo, rather than cubes of Potato, sauteed and served with a Spicy Tomato Salsa & Aioli, we receive a plate of Baby Potatoes, each containing a dollop of creamy Aioli. The usual Tomato Salsa is also present, but under the spuds. It’s not what we expected, but it works and we’d be more than happy to eat them again.


This time around, we forego dessert.

However, the table next to ours assures us that the Venezuelan Chocolate Ganache ($15) with Orange Soil is to die for and the Colombian Churros ($16 for 4pcs) with Dulche De Leche also look ace.

The Drinks

It’s a Thursday night and we’re out and about, so we launch into things with a round of Cocktails.

The Lulo Mojito ($20) arrives as a Highball and is just the right mix of spiced Rum, Lime, Mint and sweetness. On a similar theme, the Caipirinha ($18) reminds me that I really should order this particular tipple more often. In contrast, the Passionfruit Fizzer ($20) is light and floral, but leaves a pleasant burn of Vodka once it’s gone down.



Lulo is a real asset to the Glenferrie Road dining scene.

Whilst the menu caries enough old-favourites to be reassuring, it also holds some lovely surprises for those who want to break out of their comfort zone.

Plus, in a strip that is still a bit subdued after 10pm, Lulo has after dark glamour. Both the excellent bar and trendy vibe make it a go-to stop for a Friday night night cap with the cool kids.

Faye Keenan
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