Already popular at it’s original Mission location on 22nd Street where it stood for six years, Lolò took a chance last February and boldly moved a few blocks to a larger, more prime location along the popular Valencia corridor. The risk paid off, as the Mexican restaurant is now one of the most popular places in the Mission, with a reported revenue growth of 40% at their new location.
Co-owned by husband and wife team of Chef Jorge Martinez and Lorena Zertuche (Lolò), who whimsically decorated their new digs, the 88-seats at the restaurant and bar are hard ones to get, with two-week advanced reservations required for prime dining times. It’s always a vibrant scene, enhanced by the warmth of the amusing Mexican-inspired decor. Colorful, mismatched items such as bicycle handle “chandeliers”, a wall covered with car doors, another wall covered with flat origami boats all seemingly meld together as if they all belong in the same place.
The Cali-Mexican food by Chef Martinez pairs very well with their Mezcal-oriented cocktails. As big aficionados of this classic Italian aperitif, we had to try their Mezcal Negroni (Mezcal, Campari, sweet vermouth), shown in back, and one of their newer creations, The Windshield (Mezcal, Rye Whisky, Amaro, lemon). Both cocktails made for a great beginning to our evening to come:
A small wooden bowl with medium-thick tortilla chips and three types of salsas from mild to spicy were brought to the table:
We decided to start with the Mexiterranean Cheese Fondue made with Oaxaca cheese, tomatoes, oregano and cilantro. It was also accompanied by its own bowl of corn chips, so we no longer had to share. Oaxacan cheese doesn’t completely melt, so it was more like fishing for cheese curds in a seasoned tomato sauce. Nevertheless a pretty tasty dish:
We also tried the Tuna Tacon, which are corn tortillas topped with seared albacore tuna, shellfish aioli and avocado. A roasted tomatillo salsa was served on the side to add to taste:
It was time for our next round of drinks, and we contemplated ordering straight Mezcal, but decided that since their cocktails were so good, we had to try a couple more. We chose a Mexicanhattan (Tequila Reposado, Mezcal, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Pechaud’s bitters) shown in the rear, and a Gold Digger (Mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse, tonic syrup, grapefruit bitters). We were not disappointed with this round of cocktails either:
Their version of Carnitas arrives in a stack:
Lifting off the bamboo steamer containing soft corn tortillas revealed the tender pork chunks cooked in a banana leaf. Side plates of guacamole and a roasted tomato salsa could be used as additional dressing for the tasty carnitas:
Not sure how we had room for more, but we saw so many of these Lamb Sliders go by that we had to get them. The lamb patties were served on soft brioche buns, smothered with an umami-rich porcini mushroom sauce, and speared with a mildly hot pepperoncini. The shoestring fries were crispy great:
Just to add to there overall levity of the experience, bills are presented in a toddler-sized leather boot:
A view of the restaurant looking towards the full bar with a view of the origami boat wall on the right:
We’ll definitely be back to work our way through the menu, and hopefully be able to take seats at the bar to work our way through their equally great drinks menu. We have our eye out for Crab croquettes and meatballs with eggplant … until next time …