Esplanade Ridge: 3312 Esplanade. 504-488-6946. Map.
AE DS MC V
WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
The city’s longest-running Spanish restaurant, Lola’s has a menu of all the familiar Spanish classics, from tapas and gazpacho to paella and fideua. It has always been very popular, enough so that it serves as a meeting place for people who live in Mid-City and Esplanade Ridge.
Paella and its pasta equivalent, fideua, loom large on the menu. Both are available in four combinations of ingredients (seafood, meat, vegetarian, and everything) and four sizes (feeds one to four people, depending on the size of the pan used). All are well-composed, ample, and aromatic. With the rising interest in tapas, much of it appears: Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, and chorizo, all great with sangria. The soups–cold or hot, usually made differently from the way you may have had them in the past–also belong in a meal.
Lola’s is named for the mother of chef-owner Angel Miranda. Angel (a caballero; his name is pronounced in the Spanish way, “an’hel,” sort of) opened a Spanish restaurant in the Warehouse District during the World’s Fair in 1984. At the time, it was the only restaurant in town serving a full menu of Spanish food. That restaurant (Altamira) closed soon after the World’s Fair, but shortly after Angel opened this smaller in a tiny storefront on Esplanade. Helped by its policy of allowing customers to bring in their own wine, it became a phenomenon, and hard to find an empty seat inside.
Little tables are jammed into a cramped room. The regulars seem to like this, along with the loose style, open kitchen, folk art, and New Orleans blues-funk playing on the sound system.
»Fabada (bean soup with ham)
»Grilled fish with spicy sauce du jour
Paprika-marinated roast pork loin
»Paella (meat, seafood, and vegetarian versions are all fine)
Fideua (pasta version of paella)
FOR BEST RESULTS
Be prepared to wait for a table some evenings. Bring your own wine, even though they now serve wine.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
They ought to use black mussels instead of those green-shell ones. The service staff could be a bit cheerier. And it’s about time they begin taking credit cards.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment
- Consistency +1
- Value +2
- Attitude -1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +2
- Sidewalk tables
- Open Sunday dinner
- Open Monday dinner
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations