They just opened yesterday and I've already eaten three meals at La QChara, the Nuevo Latino Cafe, opened by Coffee, Tea and Me owners/operators Lorenzo and Emily Tenreiro. Early indications are that something truly special is going on here in Melrose.
The space, converted from the now defunct Peacuddy's Coffee House,on Franklin Street, just at the Melrose Highlands Commuter rail station is truly transformed with bright red walls, wooden spoons, chalkboard menus and mid-mod drop lights which set the whole tone for the cafe.
Lorenzo knows coffee and you will no doubt recognize a barista or two if you frequent Coffee, Tea or Me. He has brought the same stellar coffee options here to La QChare...but....if the coffe draws you in... the food will bring you back.
Latin American with a serious nod to Venezuelan cuisine, the menu is expansive. They are offering an array of Arepas with a wide selection of insanely good fillings like: Roast pork, or Oaxaca Cheese and Chorizo, or Carne Mechada (Venezuelan beef, )or the breakfast Arepa with scrambled eggs, house made salsa, cheese and chipotle sauce.
Also on the menu.. Cachapas. A homemade Venezuelan sweet corn pancake with a variety of fillings.
The breakfast menu is a bountiful blend of South, Central and North American favorites. I had the breakfast quesadilla yesterday and couldn't have been happier. They were served with crispy yucca fries topped with a cilantro sauce. Other breakfast plates include Empanadas, Pancakes with Arequipe (dulce de leche syrup) Tostadas Francesas( challa French toast with almonds, and panela caramel roasted bananas) and a personal favorite, Chilaquiles.
The Chilaquiles are tossed with your choice of green or red sauce, shredded chicken and two sunny side up eggs. The green sauce is tart and spicy, while the tortillas remain crisp and delicious
And there are Tortas, Tacos, Burritos, Tostones, Carne Asada and more...
Not to be missed are the freshly baked pastries produced by Emily Tenreiro!
If coconut peach muffins are out... you want one.
Please note: While the atmosphere is traditional carry out cafe, the food may take a little while to produce. It's only their second day being open so I always expect some glitches at the beginning, but with that said, the wait was no longer than what I would expect from a decent sit-down restaurant. As there is a large commuter traffic moving through the location, my suspicion is that Lorenzo and team may need to add some "grab and go" options for those catching the train.
Still, I can't say enough good things about La QChara. Melrose is awash in Italian sub and pizza shops, Roast Beef and Seafood spots, or Chinese carryouts. An addition like this, with this quality of food is long overdue and a VERY welcome change around here.