Looking for authentic Mexican food? La Lupita fills the bill. You can watch the second-generation chef do his thing at the Brickell area restaurant, which has an open kitchen and seriously late weekend hours. Customers eat up the fresh offerings, presentation and attention to detail at any hour, says manager Kriz Vass. “The food comes fast but it’s not fast food,” Vass says. He’s got that right.
Start off with flautas, a house specialty: beef or chicken stuffed into crispy corn shells or “flutes,” along with lettuce, sour cream and shredded cheese. For your dipping pleasure, request a little queso fundido, warm, melted cheese with rajas (poblano chiles), mushrooms or chorizo. The guacamole is a must: The chunkiness tells you it’s house-made, as are the chips, which carry a touch of oil because they’re just out of the fryer.
Feeling a little hung over? La Lupita’s chicken soup should do the trick. It’s a bowl of flavorful broth with a good portion of shredded meat, veggies, rice and tortilla bits. “Soothing for your palate,’’ says the menu. Tacos are only $2 a pop and worth a try. The chuleta, a mouthful of deliciously marinated pork, came recommended. A bit greasy, but hey, live a little. Another house specialty is the stew of arrachera (flank steak), garnished with mild nopales (prickly pear cactus) and cheesy queso fresco. Since you’re ordering out, you won’t see the cool way it’s served: in a traditional molcajete, or volcanic stone bowl.
Dieters could opt for the grilled chicken (pollo a la parilla) served with a small salad, not-too-heavy refried beans and Mexican style rice with tomatoes, garlic, onions, parsley, cilantro and other spices. Like many of the other entrees here, the dish is straight up and comforting. Ask for a side of mole sauce to really feel like you’re south of the border.