Saturday, May 21, 2011


Lola is one of many restaurants in the Highlands that my husband and I get awfully excited about (see our Root Down review here).

We had Saturday night reservations on yet another rainy evening during this uncharacteristically wet May. Fortunately for us, we were joined by our wonderful neighbor-friends who journeyed out of the suburbs with us for some wonderful food.

Lola has apparently been named one of the "top five establishments to drink tequila in America by Food and Wine Magazine." I know that because that's the first thing you see when you visit Lola's website. I don't know what Food and Wine's criteria was, but Lola has a long, long list of tequilas available. Their margaritas are mixed with premium tequilas, and without any sour mix. After trying the Dr. J margarita at Lola many months ago, my husband has sworn off any other margarita from anywhere else. Forever. In fact, he considers himself a sort of pseudo tequila snob after a schooling from the bartender on that visit.

Dr. J Margarita

Lola is part of the "Big Red F" group of restaurants, which shares ownership under Dave Query and also includes Centro, West End Tavern, Jax Fish House, Happy, and Zolo. Besides all the tequila, Lola specializes in coastal Mexican cuisine, so you can expect far more seafood options on the menu than most Denver restaurants. 

The Highlands location at 16th and Boulder is apparently a former mortuary, and the spot where Wild Bill Cody's body laid temporarily in the winter of 1917 before Lookout Mountain had thawed enough for a burial. Fans of obscure Denver history will love it. 

Lola has an enclosed patio area with a view of downtown that's lovely in the summer. However, we were happy to be seated in the main dining area given the dreary rain outside. 

This being such a famously amazing tequila-drinking establishment, everyone ordered the Dr. J margaritas ($11 each).  Everyone except myself, that is, since I am an irrationally stubborn drinker of nothing but light beer.

We started out with our usual appetizer: chips and guacamole. It sounds boring, but there's a twist: Lola sends out a server and a cart full of ingredients, and the guacamole is prepared tableside to your liking. For $8, it's an expensive, Benihana-esque entertainment gimmick, but the guacamole is outstanding. Plus, you get the novelty factor of Lola being spelled into your dish with cayenne pepper.


For our main entrees, Mr. Oyster and I split the carne asada ($26) and the ceviche "flight".

The Carne Asada included, besides the steak, yam and chorizo hash, pork green chili, and grilled squash. The presentation was messy, but the food was outstanding:
Carne Asada
The yams stole the show; they were naturally sweet, seasoned to a perfect saltiness and cooked to very tender.

The ceviche flight that we split was an enormous portion consisting of fish, shrimp, and scallop ceviche.

Ceviche Flight, clockwise from top right: fish, shrimp, scallops
The shrimp was my favorite, although the least traditional of the three. It was served in a creamy aioli sauce with tomato slices. One of our friends that was with us, a native Californian, said overall the dish was the best ceviche she'd had in Denver.

One of our dining companions ordered a Caesar salad alongside her main dish. The salad ended up containing a bit of a surprise:
Caesar Salad
See the huge croutons? Those aren't actually croutons. They're polenta-crusted cheese cubes, which we were told were wonderful. Sneaky.  

Finally, although we were getting quite stuffed by that point, it was time for dessert. Fortunately for us, Lola had just unveiled a completely new dessert menu which had several enticing options. We chose the Strawberry Shortcake Churro, being partially swayed by the fact that throughout our meal, the whole dining area had smelled like sweet fried dough.

Strawberry Shortcake Churro
Besides the lovely swirly churro, the dish came with malted strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, and sweetened strawberries (hidden under the whipped cream and churro in the photo). Very unique and every bite was delicious.

We had ordered too much food, but everything was excellent.

One downside to point out is Lola is not particularly vegetarian-friendly. One of our dining companions is vegetarian, and she had very limited menu options to choose from. In fact, if you're not in the mood for seafood, your meat options are also a little slim.

Casual Dining

(9 of 10)

Pros: Endless tequila selection, good food
Cons: Expensive, lack of vegetarian options


Lola on Urbanspoon


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