The enormous underground tequila den opened just last month at 271 Dartmouth Street has fast become a city dwellers must visit. Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar revives the space formerly inhabited by Papa Razzi giving it a mysterious and seductive vibe with red lighting, Gothic accents and rose petal centerpieces. Weathered hardwood floors and reclaimed iron gates fill the space where deep set wall crevices give way to flickering candles.Serving over 200 Tequilas and inventive margaritas (by the glass or pitcher) along with inspired Mexican dishes, its opening fills a niche for upscale Mexican food in a bustling neighborhood location seemingly void of such fare. Friends and I settled in at the reclaimed wood bar, scoring a couple of seats at the corner located next to the tequila shrine emitting a warm golden glow. The place was packed on Thursday evening at 6:30 and only seemed to get busier as the night went on. Between the six of us we sampled a good portion of the margarita menu from the classic Lolita ($12) made with sauza ‘100 years’, patron citronge, fresh lime, cane syrup & a squeeze of grapefruit to the sugary and spicy Diablo ($13) with lunazul reposado, luxardo triplum, serranochile, blood orange, pineapple & strawberry. My choice was a Spicy Cucumber ($13) consisting of don julio blanco, habanero infused vodka, patron citronge, fresh cucumber & lime. Tequila + vodka? I really wasn't doing myself any favors. The drink brought the heat with a refreshing cucumber and lime finish. The extensive drink menu included everything from Bebidas (miscellaneous cocktails), to Sangria and Mojitos to Aqua Frescas - which are non alcoholic iced beverages. My pregnant friend enjoyed the Lime Coco ($8) with fresh lime, coconut, citrus fruits & mint. Also pictured are Tequila shots, of which I sipped two over the course of the evening, and somewhere in between was a Dos Equis Lager ($6). But back to the tequila. The menu is downright fascinating offering shots from $6 to $450 (limited edition Cuervo 250 Aniversario) broken down into categories to help determine the palate. I chose from the "Hot Peppery" section an el charro ($6) served with an orange slice dipped in red sugar. It was smooth sipping, perhaps a little too smooth. As the evening progressed we were witness to a woman whose hair caught on fire from one of the many ornate chandelier candlesticks with an open flame. It was not the below candle display looking like it was removed straight out of a Gothic cathedral; where said woman's ponytail met its demise, however was still deserving of a photograph. It was time for some grub. We shared a plate of the Chile-rubbed short rib nachos ($15) which everyone seemed to enjoy. The dish itself is more like a short rib dip covered in cheese with only a few chips for presentation. A fun twist when compared to a typical plate of nachos, the rib was tender and juicy shredded and bathed in ancho sauce with garlic, mushrooms and jalapeno crema. Bowls of signature tortilla chips were served alongside. Also included with the chips was a trio of flavorful salsas - roasted red pepper, crema, and tomatillo. Of the four different kinds of Guacamole on the menu we chose the Fresco ($9) Undeniably fresh and served with heaping chunks of avocado, this creamy guac was laced with diced red onion and topped with bright red tomato lending a textural contrast and a nice pop of color. Added generously is the cilantro, and less so the serrano chile. (Serrano is hotter than a jalapeno, but I don't recall intense heat.) In hindsight, the $9 price tag seems a bit steep for the portion size, but I definitely enjoyed the dip!My favorite appetizer of the evening were the Crispy Masa Oysters ($11). Five lightly fried east coast oysters are dusted with red chile masa & chipotle crema followed up with a diced salsa giving way to clean sweet flavors. Our bartenders were most attentive and the food came out super fast. Overall the dishes we tried showcased inventive Mexican plates and I'd happily return to sample more of the menu and eat another plate of those oysters. Be sure not to miss the bathrooms at this place.Mesmerized as I made my way down a dark twisty tiled hallway, set a glow by yet more candle light, Penelope greeted me at the door. Entering into a room alternating deep red damask wallpaper with exposed brick and white tile, I was greeted by sleek black sinks and crystal encrusted soap dispensers. Saloon style doors on the individual stalls open to reveal painted porcelain toilet bowls. If photographing toilets are wrong, (annoying overused cliche as it goes) then I don't want to be right. An experience in itself is taking a trip to the womens room, but Lolita as a whole warrants just as much praise. A fun and exciting Mexican Cocina in a desirable Back Bay location is sure to thrive.
As much as I'm into it, a glowing tequila haven can't keep us away from our go-to dive, and true to form we gallivanted down Dartmouth Street, past the extravagantly lit up Boston Public Library over to Delux to close out the night with Jen's Margaritas.Tequila makes a night interesting/fun/crazy that is for sure.