I say finally for two reasons. First we have awaited the opening of this Mexican restaurant lounge / tequila bar for about a month now. Second, FINALLY some Mexican food to get excited about in this Mexican food-deprived city. There are no upscale Mexican restaurants (in Boston proper) to go for a special occasion, or a night out… until now!
Lolita Cocina opened at about 7pm on Friday, the very hour their liquor license went into effect. After two weeks of delays, Lolita was ready to go and it didn’t take very long to fill up, the place was packed all night. My friends and I went for a later dinner around 10pm and they were still on a wait.
Lolita is very different from its former inhabitant Pappa Razzi. Its got a lounge / nightlife feel with dim red lights, red wall paper and open standing space for a bar scene to take place after the dinner rush. Since they are open until 2, I have no doubt in my mind the bar will be packed until close every weekend.
To start the meal our server brought out a smoking dish of grapefruit. Then he poured a splash of tequila on top of it. I’ve never seen anything like it before, but apparently it’s meant to cleanse your palate. Confused? A little, but the smoke was cool. The grapefruit was frozen, still a little confused, but my palate did feel cleansed.
They brought a trio of salsas to start (pictured below): a traditional red salsa, a green tomatillo salsa, and a aioli / piquante type salsa. I really liked all three, but the tomatillo wins. Our server also brought us a bottle of mango habanero hot sauce and made sure to warn us that it was extremely hot. It was a hit, we put it on everything and talked about buying a jar of it.
Clockwise from top left: Tomatillo Salsa | Queso Fundido | Salsa Trio | Mango Habanero Sauce | Guacamole Picante
Lolita offers 4 different kinds of guacamole, we got the Picante which has hell’s chile oil, and fresh hot green chiles. Loved the guac, it was really spicy! To make things evern more interesting, we put the mango habanero salsa on the guac – that turned out to be a mistake for some people who couldn’t handle the heat.
Now for the highlight of the meal, queso fundido: bubbling hot asadero cheese & chorizo sausage, roasted poblano chiles & mushrooms, cilantro pesto. Oh yes. This was unreal, and BONUS: it was four times as big as I thought it was going to be. Queso fundido, it’s time for your close up…
There are no words
For side dishes we went 100% corn. Not sure how that happened, but I have no complaints. The Iron Pan Cornbread with roasted garlic sauce was buttery, a tiny bit spicy and a good size to share. We also got the Zocalo Corn: grilled corn brushed with chipotle crema, chile powder, cotija cheese & black pepper. Delicious. It reminded me of Toro’s corn – but more Mexican than Spanish.
The Tortilla Soup was great too. The flavor of the broth was excellent, I was instantly addicted. My only complaint is there was not enough broth in comparison to the mountain of tortillas, but aesthetically it worked.
For an entree we got the Carnitas (pictured below): crispy slow cooked pork, salsa verde & red onion radish escabeche. The pork was very tender, no need for a knife, it just separated with the touch of a fork. The sauce was great, almost like an enchiladas verde sauce (but better) and the greens had an unexpected burst of flavor. For some reason, a couple of my friends didn’t love the Carnitas, but I did!
My favorite entree was the Slow Cooked Brisket Tacos: pulled, with a shot of ‘gravy.’ The brisket was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the gravy sauce had an insane flavor. It was like traditional gravy with a mexican twist. The tacos are great to share, a ton of food and perfectly separated portions. Slow Cooked Brisket Tacos, it’s time for your close up…
Probably should have saved this goodie for Food Porn Friday, but I just couldn’t wait!
We were so full and decided not to order dessert, but Lolita gives complementary green apple cotton candy (covered in pop rocks!!) to every table.
I really didn’t like the flavor of the cotton candy, it was too sugary for me, but a lot of my friends loved it. It was devoured pretty quickly regardless of food comas.
Lolita’s drink menu has everything from Margaritas to Sangria to Mojitos and hundreds of different types of tequila. We tried the Lolita Margarita: sauza ‘100 years’, patron citronge, fresh lime, cane syrup, squeeze of grapefruit. This was excellent but its hard for me to understand the $12 price tag. Maybe if it was big, but its tiny! I thought the food prices were very reasonable given quality – but the margaritas are too expensive. We also tried the Diablo Margarita ($13?!): lunazul reposado, luxardo triplum, serrano chile, blood orange, pineapple & strawberry. AMAZING (but…$13).
We also tried a pitcher of the Rojo Sangria towards the end of the meal (red wine, jamaican tea, gran marnier, gold rum, canela, star anise, cherries and fresh citrus rojo). This was pink (not red) and tasted more like iced tea or juice than sangria. It was good, very light and refreshing – but it wasn’t really what we had in mind when ordering red sangria. We didn’t even think there was red wine in it, but our waiter told us that there was. Weird.
Bravo to Lolita. Usually first nights are a disaster, but they pulled it off with flying colors. Service was a 7 out of 10 – rough around the edges, but I’m positive it will improve as they get used to the space. I’m officially obsessed with Lolita and will be going back VERY often to try everything on that menu.