by Christine Gary
Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar
271 Dartmouth Street
Boston, MA 02116
Selection: Mexican and seafood
Vegetarian: Limited options, but do-able.
Overall grade: A
“It’s like a vampire’s lounge!” my friend exclaimed as we walked into Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar. Well, that’s one way to describe the entrancing décor of this upscale Mexican dining destination. With red lights accenting brick columns, and glowing gothic chandeliers pendant from the ceilings, Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar achieves an ambiance that is both mysterious and alluring. Lavish damask wallpaper adorns the crimson walls of the dining area, offset by weathered wooden floors. And flickering candles beckon guests towards tables set with rose petal centerpieces. Antique wrought-iron gates bookend the bar, whose rustic cabinets house their renowned selection of 250 tequilas. The music tops off the ambiance with a customized blend of classic rock with Latin influences.
While Lolita boasts an extensive tequila list that is constantly updated, you can also choose to indulge in one of their inventive margaritas (available by the glass or pitcher). A house favorite among patrons is the “Lolita” ($12) made with sauza ‘100 years’, patron citronge, fresh lime, cane syrup, and a squeeze of grapefruit. Also popular is the “Spicy Cucumber” ($13) which has Don Julio Blanco, habanero infused vodka, patron citronge, fresh cucumber, and lime. Beyond that, beer, cocktails, mojitos, and non alcoholic iced beverages round out the drink menu.
I found the dining experience to be unrivaled when it came to presentation. Our waitress immediately brought out a grapefruit and mint granita (similar to Italian ice) with a splash of tequila served atop smoking dry ice. It was a refreshing palate cleanser before the meal. The next complimentary goodie was a bucket of warm, crisp, tortilla chips served alongside three distinct salsas – roasted red pepper, chipotle crema, and tomatillo, aka salsa verde. Customers willing to test their taste buds can venture to try some spicy mango habanero sauce. Since the chips are bottomless, it’s almost a shame not to explore at least one of the four guacamole flavors offered. The “Especial” ($15) comes with jumbo lump crab meat and lobster. I’ve never heard of those ingredients in guacamole.
Similarly, the rest of the menu flaunts a penchant for the unexpected, reinventing Mexican-inspired cuisine by mixing it with New England seafood staples. Health-conscious eaters can opt for grilled fish. The salmon coco ($23) is cooked in a coconut lime broth and served with black bean plantain mash. Vegetarians have limited options, but they could request Chef’s Choice Tacos, which comprises a rotating selection of fresh veggies among other ingredients created daily. They could also order the creamy poblano pepper soup ($8) or put a meal together by mixing any of the eight side dishes (rice, beans, vegetables). While I didn’t try any personally, I’ve heard that the zocola corn and sweet potato fries are both delicious sides.
What I ordered is also vegetarian: The “Spinach and Cheese” quesadilla ($9) with chihuahua cheese, queso fresco, and pickled jalapenos. It was delicious and one of several creative quesadilla options. The “Mariscos” quesadilla ($14) had shrimp and scallops, onion poblano chile rajas and fresh salsa. While the “Ancho Chile Chicken” ($10) had black beans, fire roasted corn and smoked bacon. These were all refreshing twists on the tired and typical Mexican quesadilla you’ll find elsewhere – y’know the one, scant chicken strips stuck in plastic-looking monterey jack cheese. My friends and I found the meals filling, but still had room to share a delectable dessert.
Just when you think your senses have experienced it all, out comes a billowy tower of green apple cotton candy speckled with cherry pop rocks to accompany the bill. Another extra perk, on the house. At Lolita, you feel like you’re getting the VIP treatment at an affordable price.
We went on a Monday night, so there was no need to make a reservation. I’d wager the place fills up on weekends though. This dining destination has a night club vibe, so it’s not a place you bring children. Fortunately, this means the aisles aren’t booby trapped with high chairs for you to trip over. You won’t lose an eye thanks to projectile crayons, nor have to compete with a crying child to carry on a conversation. As for the attire, you can get by dressed casually, but given the trendy setting, you wouldn’t feel out of place if you wore a cocktail dress or fancy top.
It was perfect for our girl’s night out. But I could also see it being a memorable date spot. Or a great place to unwind after work. Happy hour happens weekdays from 5-7 pm and offers $1 mini tacos and $2 coronitas (7 fl oz). A stone’s throw from the green line’s Copley stop, Lolita is easily accessible and affords an escape from Boston’s bustling Back Bay. It’s a must-visit stop for city-dwellers and tourists alike!
*Image credits: Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar website.
Christine Gary is completing a Masters Degree in Nutrition Communication at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition. She’s an international marathon runner devoted to raising funds for charity: http://www.christinegary.com