LOLA’S MEXICAN KITCHEN: 135 BEDFORD STREET, STAMFORD
The sleek, modern feel of Lola’s in downtown Stamford is apparent as soon as you walk in; it’s clear this is meant to be a place with a vibrant bar scene and plenty of margaritas. But sometimes I just want a decent taco.
This blog is about sharing what I love about food and dining in and around Lower Fairfield County, but occasionally I feel the need to be honest.
Other than the typical spread of reviews on Yelp or Open Table, I didn’t really know anything about Lola’s. Based on the decor and the recent crop of “high-end” Mexican places (Bartaco, Red Lulu, Lolita’s, etc.), I was surprised it was on the lower-tier of the Stamford Restaurant Weeks pricing scheme. Then again, it’s Mexican food, so it’s not supposed to be expensive and I wanted to give it a shot.
Suffice it to say, I was disappointed.
The fact the flautas were sitting in a pool of straight-up barbecue sauce was not a good sign — and the carne asada tacos tasted vaguely like McCormick’s Taco Seasoning — but the real deal breaker was the carnitas. (The fish tacos were the best of the three I had, but not as good as those at El Charrito)
Not to get on any kind of crazy taco soapbox and demand that carnitas be braised for hours in a vat of pork fat by a Mexican abuelita or anything, but it needs resemble — in some semi-meaningful fashion — the dish for which it is named. It cannot be a sliced pork chop on a cold flour tortilla.
This is not carnitas, this is disingenuous.
Connecticut has never been a hot spot for Mexican food, but with new restaurants that understand how to approach the cuisine and old favorites like Casa Villa that turn out happy customers on a daily basis, it’s a letdown that the food here was so lackluster.
Selling good margaritas and providing a beautiful, contemporary feel in a great location with attentive staff is certainly a piece of what makes a good modern Mexican joint, but Connecticut diners should be given a little more credit. I remain hopeful.