2 stars for Mexican eats at Lolita on South Beach

 

2 stars for Mexican eats at Lolita on South Beach

lolita_ceviche

Victoria Pesce Elliott

Her name is Lolita, and she’s a sexy Mexican on the site of Nemo, a South of Fifth Street pioneer. Always magical, the sprawling space has been transformed into a permanent party with a studied, shabby-chic décor that resembles nothing so much as a House of Blues.

Waiters trailing dry-ice smoke swing by the tables with silver bowls of tart, grapefruit granita and free shots of tequila to get the night going. Why not? Follow it up with flowery sangria or margaritas made with hand-squeezed juices and freshly muddled herbs. Though a far cry fancier (and pricier) than a late-night taco joint, Lolita serves plenty of cheesy, fatty, fried fare that pairs best with lots of cocktails.

Ambience: Drippy candelabras and glittering chandeliers lend a bordello-esque vibe, and a brilliant DJ fills the space with everything from reggae to old-school disco. A big black leather sofa makes a prime spot for drinking, with mid-century black-and-white films projected in the background. A gilt-edged mirror is propped against an elegant old rubber tree, mismatched chairs are covered in red or green velvet, and the marble tables are graced with blood red roses. If it all sounds geared to Edward and Bella fans, it is. On one visit, we spotted two bachelorettes in tiaras, a few guys in Mexican hats and a girl with a stick-on mustache that moved from her lip to forehead to underarm as the night played out.

What Worked

  • A generous serving of warm, crisp & salty tortilla as thin as fine crystal
  • Addictively creamy chipotle, roasted tomato and subtle tomatillo salsas
  • Simple guacamole
  • Barbecue ribs glazed with coffee, chocolate, orange and sesame
  • Tender rib-eye tacos on soft corn tortillas, showered with see-through radish coins, cilantro leaves, loads of chopped lettuce, a kicking garlic crema and frizzled onions

 

What Didn't Work

  • A trio of ceviches in oversized shot glasses (pictured) - stale popcorn garnish, two ceveiches were tepid and chewy & the third was bathed in a rich coconut milk concoction that drowned out any flavor of the sea
  • A crispy jicama salad was not crispy
  • Shrimp ajillo with a the taste of ammonia in each bite
  • Mercado verde - a pair of mushroom, zucchini and sweet potato enchiladas marred by too much red and green sauce and a messy mélange of cream and beans
  • Grayish, soft carnitas tasting mostly of salty salsa verde
  • A side of spicy greens accompanied by gritty bits of sand
  • A quatro leches tasting of stale cake, lacking rum and boasting only a hint of the advertised mango sauce

 

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