SoFi's latest addition, Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar, recently surfaced in the old Nemo space. Aiming to bring sophisticated Mexican food with street cred to Miami, the CB5 Restaurant Group -- which operates two other Lolita Cocinas in the Northeast -- is also hoping to pick up patrons from area restaurants and bars that close for the day before Lolita, which stays open until 5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
And coming soon will be a "taco window" that will serve from 2 a.m. till closing. There are also plans to launch brunch in the imminent future. We're not sure what this place looks like in the daylight, but after the first gigantic shot of tequila, it won't really matter anyway.
We gave you a glimpse on opening day and recently attended a tasting. Though the menu isn't exactly priced at street-food level, the attention to quality is rarely equaled by street cart vendors.
The meal gets off to a good start with a grapefruit and mint granita spewing special-effects smoke and a splash of tequila poured table-side.
The amuse-bouche of champions, tequila shots are served neat, with a slice of orange covered in cherry-red sugar. We went for Deleon platinum ($25), described on the menu as having notes of "gentle vanilla and cream," and Milagro reposado ($17), categorized as "pale honey and butter." What did we discover? It's damn hard to describe tequila accurately, but we applaud the effort.
Guacamole topped with cubes of agave-glazed pork belly ($13) was served with house-made tortilla chips. The belly had a crusty sear that maintained its integrity even after being mixed with the other ingredients, leaving the pork sitting comfortably in creamy avocado for the short time it took us to eat it.
Lolita's version of queso fundido ($11) packs chorizo, poblanos, and thinly sliced mushrooms under a blanket of asadero cheese. We could have done without the mushrooms, which were difficult to taste amid the sausage-cheese combo, but we loved the addition of a cilantro pesto drizzled on top.
A lobster enchilada ($16) came smothered in a smoky cream sauce, with pieces of slightly spicy lobster tossed around in a mixture of roasted corn, chipotle chilies, and jack cheese. This dish is a good example of Lolita's fancy approach to traditional Mexican.
A bright salsa rojo spices up the carne asada ($25), which arrived with an evenly distributed rare center, as requested. It's no easy task to cook such a skinny steak to perfection, but Lolita nailed it. It's marinated in garlic and served with a dollop of guacamole and grilled red onions.
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The only slight disappointment of the evening was the green rice
($7). Made with cilantro crema, the rice tasted a little overcooked, with a mushy texture that felt a bit like oatmeal. There was a clump of jack cheese in the center that was not melted enough to meld with the base.
The churros ($10) were exactly as they should be -- soft and doughy on the inside, crunchy and sugary on the outside. Two dipping sauces -- a sweet almond cream and ancho chile-spiked mixed berries -- came on the side.