What to Try on Lola’s New Menu

By Ruth Tobias  |  July 1, 2014
Credit: Ruth Tobias

As culinary director of the Big Red F restaurant group, Jamey Fader was present at the birth of Lola 12 years ago — and his enduring love for the pioneering LoHi Mexican fish house shows in the way he personifies it. “She needed to show her maturity in a new light,” he says. “In restaurant years, she’s about 60, but she’s still got great bones. She’s sexy, amazing, powerful and smart.”

So back in May, Fader brought in a chef he deemed worthy of her: Kevin Grossi, who held the sous position here before “crushing it” up at the Fort Collins outpost of Jax. This Friday, they’re rolling out a summer menu based on the “clarity” of insight they’ve gained into Lola’s personality — “never fusion, but always fun," right down to a new salsa trio for the chips, pictured top alongside the deceptively easy-drinking Cactus Valencia, a tequila cocktail infused with cactus water and citrus. “I’ve looked at this for so many years,” Fader points out, "so I was excited that Kevin wanted to reinvent it.” We particularly liked the blackened-tomato salsa, smoky with paprika and cumin. But that's just the beginning of what's in store.

1575 Boulder St.; 720-570-8686

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Grossi's charcuterie board shows his respect for the smoking process — from the tequila-cured Scottish salmon to the wisps of duck ham and surprisingly light smoked trout rillettes dusted with bamboo-jade salt, it's all about the flavor of the fish and poultry, not the cherrywood. (Johnnycakes and a quenelle of Broken Shovels goat cheese whipped with cilantro round out the presentation.)

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Inspired by pho, this caldo substitutes raw chayote-squash ribbons for noodles and crispy duck carnitas for chicken. Don't be shy about mixing it all up with the shrimp, sliced avocado and hard-cooked egg. Though it's poured piping-hot tableside, it's ultimately refreshing, spiked with lime juice and fish sauce.

  • Buttery grilled octopus tops julienned mango and green papaya, in turn layered over smoked-paprika aioli, in a dish that's subtly complex for all its relish (consider the mustard seeds, pickled in onion blossom-chile d'arbol vinegar). 

  • Credit: Ruth Tobias

    Lobster's natural lusciousness complements the creamy sauce that defines enchiladas suizas, standing up even to textbook black beans and spiced rice.

  • Do not get an order of pastry chef Xan Lynch's s'mores on a stick to split. Trust us — one per person. 

  • Bar manager Andy Owens goes especially light on the agave nectar and lime juice to ensure this Fuego Verde gets its extra-savory kick from muddled jalapeño and cilantro as well as tequila blanco.