There's a new coffee shop on Fitzhugh Avenue that brings something different to the Dallas coffee scene: Australian coffee culture.
Step into LDU, and you'll be greeted by friendly Australian-accented baristas with shorts, Foals T-shirts and tousled hair. It's a small space, but one that has proven popular with commuters headed into nearby downtown.
There are several ways to evaluate a new coffee shop: the coffee, first and foremost, which at LDU was excellent from the first sip. Workability is a big factor for many American coffee shop aficionados, and LDU has some workspace (but no power outlets) in the form of high, low and communal tables, some better suited to laptop work then others.
Then, there's the atmosphere. LDU's industrial-tinged design and wooden furniture, including wooden stadium seating, give it a modern vibe but don't exactly make for a cozy coffee spot, which owners say is intentional. Less intentional, perhaps, were the wobbly, off-kilter tables that made working a bit trickier.
LDU isn't trying to be the kind of coffeehouse where you post up all day on a comfy couch with a laptop; Australian coffee culture is more about the coffee itself. Those modern design elements — all that wood and concrete — make the space get quite loud as the room fills up, so it may not be the best place to have a meeting, either. But with coffee this good, that's OK, and there is still Wi-Fi for those who need it. Not every coffee shop needs to be populated by laptop-wielding telecommuters.
Australian coffee culture is a bit more come-and-go; you're not as likely to spot a drive-thru, but it's also more focused on serving stellar coffee to cafe-goers who are looking for a hit to go. And these hits have a bit more punch than Starbucks fans may be used to.
Espresso is a big part of this menu. Try the long black ($3 to $3.50), a double shot of espresso over hot water, comparable to an Americano. We tried the delightfully velvety flat white ($3.50 to $4.50), another Aussie drink that's similar to an American latte, but made with milk that's steamed into a "velvet microfoam." You can order it with one or two shots of espresso.
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LDU also has a small, cheeky menu of grilled sandwiches — the Pumpky Bareesta ($7) is made with roasted butternut squash, feta, almonds and "herby goodness" — but otherwise sticks to the coffee, which is a welcome departure from many modern coffee shops.
If you're looking for well-made coffee and a slightly different experience than most Dallas coffee shops offer, LDU is a fun cafe to visit. The focus on what matters most — great coffee, rather than a massive food menu, booze and live music — makes it stand out in a city increasingly inundated by trendy new coffee options.
LDU Coffee, 2650 N. Fitzhugh Ave. Open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.