We visit the homely Bristol cafe still busy after more than 20 years

It’s hidden above a shop on Gloucester Road
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Tucked away between the Playful Toyshop and Miss Millie's on the bustling Gloucester Road, La Ruca is a small, homely café on top of a health store by the same name.

It can be easy to miss, but the serene café can be accessed through a set of steps at the back of the store.

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We were swayed by the peaceful, laid-back atmosphere and relaxing Hispanic music playing through the speakers and sat at one of the wooden tables decorated with a small flower jug.

A colourful array of original gouache paintings adorned the yellow walls, including one of Frida Kahlo, and were also on sale.

Faintly glowing fairy lights arcing around the room and the variety of hanging plants added to the serene atmosphere of the café.

The menu is characterised by Chilean and Hispanic flavours and includes Chicken Chimichangas (£8.99), Falafel Platter served with hummus, salad, olives and pita bread (£8.50) and savoury snacks like Spinach Tortilla (£4.99) and Quesadilla (£4.99).

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They also serve a variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes like chimichangas (£8.50/£8.99), Cheese and Spinach enchiladas (£7.99) and Huevos Rancheros (£8.50). Daily specials are also written on a board next to the till and food orders are taken from the table.

I decided to try the Moroccan chicken stew served with rice (£8.99) from the daily specials menu and a dairy-free organic mixed berries smoothie (£3.50) which arrived within just under 15 minutes.

The smoothie was clearly homemade as I came across multiple berry seeds during sips. It was refreshing, thick, creamy and slightly on the sour end.

The piping hot stew was beautifully presented in a plate-and-bowl combo with two colourful side salads and had a lovely and welcoming aroma.

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The stew was topped with a dash of creamy garlic yoghurt and was filled with tender carrots, potatoes and chickpeas as well as black olives. The broth was smooth and thin and the chicken leg (which had skin and bones) was also tender with a slight chewiness.

The rice was soft and fluffy and topped with a few mint leaves. One of the refreshing salads had a citrusy hint whilst the other had a bit of vinaigrette. Overall, it was a filling and balanced dish.

I was tempted by the homemade cakes by the till and ordered a slice of apple cake with dairy-free cream (£3.50) to top off my lunch.

It was topped with raspberries and warmed up. The slice was soft and sweet with a hint of cinnamon and slightly crispy apple bits.

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Overall, it was a very satisfying meal, the food was delicious and well-priced, and the service was friendly and fast.

La Ruca, 89 Gloucester Road, Bishopston, Bristol BS7 8AS. La Ruca is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5.30pm.

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