The Local newsletter is your free, daily guide to life in Colorado. For locals, by locals. Sign up today!
For the better part of the last decade, Lola—the coastal-cool Mexican restaurant at the corner of 16th and Boulder streets in Highland—was my preferred first-date spot. If you’re not on the dating apps, I should explain: Most of us single folks declare our love for tacos and margs in our profiles as though it’s an integral part of our personalities. Cliché? For sure. But there’s some science to this: Mentioning guacamole in your profile increases the amount of messages you receive by a whopping 144 percent.
My own Bumble profile communicates my love for tacos and not-so-humbly brags about my deep knowledge of tequila and that’s basically the trail of salt that I used to lead my dates to Lola Coastal Mexican again and again. Inside this sea blue restaurant, my dates and I would sidle up in a booth or get a seat on the breezy enclosed patio and order Lola’s famous tableside guac. If the date went well, we’d go next door to Little Man Ice Cream. And if the date went really, really well, we’d proceed to shoot hoops at the court in the park across the street (there’s always a basketball rolling around in my trunk).
Lola, you truly were the best wingwoman this reposado-loving gal could ever ask for. You will be deeply missed.
On September 12, Lola served her last tacos and slung her final coin-style margarita. She got her start on South Pearl, and, for the last 15 years, enjoyed a prime location in the Highland neighborhood. A member of Big Red F Restaurant Group, Lola will be replaced by the Post Chicken & Beer, another concept within the portfolio that got its start in 2014 in Lafayette.
I always loved the dining experience at Lola, from the whole fish being paraded out to tables to the blue-and-white Clase Azul bottles repurposed as lamp bases and the remarkable Salt Air Margarita—with a salty froth made with sucro that felt like an ocean wave kissed your lips—that fell off the menu a few years back.
In her final stretch, Lola proved to be an innovator. She went through a design transformation in 2019 that brought glass buoy light fixtures, rope partitions, and Instagrammable swing chairs. Baja chef Javier Plascencia took the helm, infusing the restaurant with his signature Baja Med cuisine and flair.
Then, the pandemic hit and Lola made pivoting look like a gracious dance. Takeout taco boards that could be assembled at home solved the problem of tortillas getting soggy and tacos losing their structure during their restaurant-to-couch route. The Little Tequila Shop popped open inside Lola—with a few dozen different agave liquors to choose from and a try-before-you-buy model—along with a fried chicken pop-up called the Tender Project.
As dining restrictions put restaurants in pandemic purgatory last winter, I ate elote and snacked on tacos on a picnic bench in front of Lola, a server bringing blankets as winter gusts snuck up. Then, in the spring, when the world slowly began opening up more, I attended a winemaker dinner with a prime seat on one of the swinging benches on the patio. Bruma Winery winemaker Lourdes “Lulu” Martinez Ojeda joined virtually on a big screen to talk about wines from Valle De Guadalupe (known as the Napa Valley of Mexico) in advance of their anticipated arrival at Lola.
Perhaps what I adored most about Lola over the years was her transportive powers that brought the vibe of the Baja coast to landlocked Colorado.
Lola’s homepage now reads: “After nearly 20 years of success, Lola has closed her doors and is going back to Mexico to live on the beach and fish and surf and play with her dog.”
From one single, jet-setting gal to another, I love this for you, Lola.