Watermelon, blood orange, and traditional lime were the special margarita mixes of the day. We went with a pitcher of blood orange margarita mix. Really, you can’t go wrong with mixing your own drink.
Chips and salsa were complimentary. The red salsa was smoky. The green salsa had lots of mint. Mint throws me sometimes. I like it; I don’t like it. Lolita’s minty green salsa was strangely compelling.
There are asterisks on the menu next to entrees that can be made vegetarian by substituting either pan seared three chili tofu or grilled portobello, and I would say that about half of their entrees can be made vegetarian. Our server, who was quite nice, even noted that one of the dishes normally offered vegetarian could not be done that night because one of the sauces had anchovies. Very thoughtful of him.
We both ended up substituting the tofu in our dishes. The tofu was very dry and chewy, with a crispy outside. I’ve never had tofu exactly of this texture at any restaurant, and I was not fond of it. It’s like the tofu sat in a slow oven for days and dried out. From this one visit, I would recommend vegetarians opt for the portobello substitution. Maybe this batch of tofu was off, though.
My partner ordered a dish with a smoky mole sauce, roasted corn, and I’m sure something else that I just can’t remember right now. His dish was very good, but, for some reason, a noticeably smaller portion than my plate of food.
I ordered the tofu with fried plantains, cider glaze, cherries, and orange and jicama slaw. This dish was very tart – too tart, even. The tartness from the cider glaze and cherries may have worked with the duck that originally came with the dish, but tofu could not stand up to the sauce. The only reason I could eat this dish is because I can drink vinegar straight from the bottle. The soft, sweet plantains were fabulous and generous. The slaw was also good.
Froo-froo presentations are pretty, but I never know from reading a menu if when they say salad or slaw that means it comes with an actual salad or slaw on the side, or just a dollop on top for aesthetics and a taste teaser. I love slaw, and when I see slaw on a menu, I want slaw, not a tiny bit of slaw. Lolita is a froo-froo plater. Now I know.
The entrees are quite expensive ($18-$24) for my thin wallet. My entrée might have been worth $21 if I had not substituted tofu for the duck, and I wish the bill had reflected these substitutions. Not all restaurants give vegetarians a break for omitting meat or substituting vegetables or tofu, but it sure is nice when they do.
For dessert we ordered the pecan cheesecake with goat’s milk caramel, and dark chocolate-ancho chili crust. Overall the cheese cake was great, but I was disappointed that the crust was not heavier on anchos. I could not detect any heat in the crust.
The major detractor from our dining experience at Lolita was the tofu. The texture was so unpleasant. I wish I could do it all over again with portobello – at a cheaper price. And it's cash only, so bring the big bills!
106 S. 13th St., Philadelphia, PA 19107
Sun.-Tues., 5-10 p.m.; Wed.-Thurs., 5-10:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m.