There is a little place on Elm Street in Waco, Texas that bakes some of the best cookies, cakes, and cinnamon rolls north of the Brazos. For this west coast transplant, walking into Lula Jane’s was like walking into a local Mendocino eatery – fresh baked goods, locally harvested produce, and farm fresh eggs – all served with Texas hospitality.
Below is one of my many must-have recommendations – a slice of Lula Jane’s blueberry pie. The flakey crust’s buttery layers melted away to reveal the subtle sweet taste of ripe blueberries just warm enough to raise the bite to near perfection.
My other favorite bit of pure perfection is found in the Lula Jane oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Each one I have had (and I have had many over the last thirteen months) is as delicious as the one before. Oatmeal texture sweetened by chocolate chips combine to create the perfect bite whether taken straight off the round or after a quick dunk in coffee. The consistent goodness combined with the homemade feel are indicative of owner Nancy Grayson’s philosophy, “We’re here to make people happy.”
Just walking into Lula Jane’s can make a person happy. Chatter of friends and smiles from staff and customers let a first timer know that this bakery is something special. Though
named after Nancy’s grandmother Lula Jane, the bakery recipes are all Nancy. Of her grandmother, she says, “She was a wonderful woman, but a terrible cook.” Summer days of sitting on her grandmother’s porch laughing and eating are the template to what she’s created at Lula Jane’s.
To create the southern sweets, she makes certain her team of bakers replicates her recipes with exactness and joy so that each bite of your favorite is as good as you remember whether those bites were taken from the same sweet or tasted months apart.
However, when those rare Thursday cake delicacies are announced Wednesday afternoon on Lula Jane’s Facebook page, call quickly because they sell out faster than you can say Lula Jane’s. I was lucky enough to obtain a slice of Elvis cake – peanut butter, chocolate, and banana — and would have traded in my blue suede shoes for another piece, but I’ve been too slow for delights such as their Eclair Cake or their Lemon Cake or their recent Summertime Mojito Cake.
If you’re looking, instead, for a delicious home made lunch, Lula Jane’s is still the place to go. They serve one lunch special per day, the creation of chef Stacy Russell. Chef Russell creates each meal based on what is fresh for the week. Each creation is worth trying, especially if it comes with a biscuit. Have you ever had tomato pie? This Californian had her first slice from the Lula Jane kitchen and it was divine. Still, the meal I can’t wait to have again
is the polenta ratatouille pictured to the left. The creamy base was perfectly off- set by the seasoned garden fresh vegetables. Somewhere on the table is a fresh biscuit, definitely worth walking a mile for (so is that Key Lime Pie Thursday Cake). One item not worth the walk, the breakfast pie – order the oatmeal instead or enjoy a bacon cheddar scone while waiting for lunch. If you’d like a full dinner in a place that feels like home, I recommend trying one of Lula Jane’s new First Friday Dinners .
Though hard to achieve, even better than the food at Lula Jane’s is the sense of community created by the indelible force known as Nancy Grayson. She decided to make a positive change in Waco – first with Rapoport Academy and now with Lula Jane’s. You can find her hospitality Tues-Fri 7:30-3:00 and Saturday’s 8:00-3:00. Stop on in to say hi and enjoy a slice of that blueberry pie. Happy eating!