Oct/Nov 2016 Let’s Do Lunch: Lola’s Mexican Cuisine & Cantina

What to Expect:
Fresh, authentic Mexican cuisine packed with flavor and value

What to Try:
If you’re familiar with the Pixar film “Ratatouille,” you may remember the explosions of color and sound that overwhelm Remy’s mind whenever he tastes a transcendental bite of food. And at the risk of a cliché, that’s a pretty apt description of my reaction after trying PicaGuaca, a mix of fresh pico de gallo, chunks of avocado and owner Juan Herrera’s seasoning. Together with his chef, Herrera knows good food and has made it his mission to bring authentic Mexican cuisine to the community.

“I enjoyed watching cooking shows as a kid,” he says. From the name of the restaurant (after his mom and several relatives) to the plates (for his home state in Mexico and other locations), Herrera has crafted a menu that’s “different from the competition; it’s less ‘tex-mex’ and more authentic” like what you would find in Mexico.

“We have different types of dishes, better quality, a chef who studied in Mexico,” says Herrera. “People like it; they say it’s similar to what they would find in Calfiorinia.

They see the difference in the quality and the presentation of the food.”

And speaking of presentation, consider the Molcajete Mar y Tierra—literally served in a bowl made from volcanic rock, this dish is packed with four meats and various sides all designed to appear like a small volcano of delicious food.

Also impressive are the various lunch plates (most averaging less than $10), served up with chicken, shrimp or steak, and often with a combination of more than one.

The Half A. C. Texano (pictured) features grilled shrimp, steak and chicken with fresh vegetables and cheese. The Half Pollo Michoacano includes a mixture of grilled chicken and shrimp along with red peppers, and is even better topped with one of their house-made salsas (they have more than five).

The Extras:
Better food doesn’t mean longer wait time; quick turnarounds and affordable, varied menu options promise a great experience. One of Herrera’s most popular offerings are his skinny margaritas. While miming the squeezing of a lime, he describes the unique drinks that have fewer calories but much more flavor and unique options such as rose and pineapple. Herrera’s knowledge of the drinks—he has a background in tequila production—has paid off. Since opening two years ago, “it’s one of our best successes,” he says.

The Experience:
Lola’s has a casual feel with subdued Mexican-inspired décor. With an outdoor patio, and a mixture of booths and tables inside the restaurant, they can seat up to groups of 20 and also offer delivery for takeout orders of 10 or more. Herrera offers catering options such as fajitas, taco bars or small burritos for groups of up to 200. With a chuckle, he describes the weekly standing order they have for 70 Burrito a la Mexicanas every week; packed with chicken, steak, shrimp and bacon (plus cactus and pineapple) it’s easy to see why these are his most popular burrito.

Herrera, like many of us, is well traveled but finds himself enticed to stay here due to the beautiful landscape and easy winters. And lucky for us, his food will continue to make life better for all of us in the Hill City.

Visit them online at www.lolasmexcuisine.com.