Lola's Tapas -- Phoenix
There have been a few reviews of Lola's, but figured I'd add my two cents.
We were out celebrating Leanne, fellow CH'er's birthday. She selected Lola's and I was happy because I wanted to try it. Our Friend Sonja was also with us.
We arrived at 6:30 to a relatively full restaurant, but no wait. Lola's doesn't not have private tables, it's all community seating. We were seated at the smaller community table that seated 8 people. There was a couple to our right and a party of three to our left. We were sandwiched in between which was fine with me. The party to the left was wrapping up and started chatting with us. They were very friendly and we enjoyed that. In the meantime, the couple to the right was not happy with the extra people at the table. We overhead her say, "They are SOOOO loud" and "Must they be so loud". I mean, we're a group of three 30-somethings out for dinner on a Saturday night, not rowdy teenagers pounding beers at the bar. The husband said, in response, "Well, it IS Saturday night." Not sure what that meant. So, that put a damper on our time, but not for long. When the party of three left, we scooted down to the other end of the table.
All the while, we had been sipping our water and checking out the menu. We ordered 2 sparkling waters and Leanne asked for a Diet Coke. The server reminded us that they don't have any soda in the restaurant, no iced or hot tea either. The tap water came in really small rocks glasses, since we're in the desert, we drink ALOT of water. We asked the server if she could possibly bring us the carafe of water, otherwise, she'd have to fill our waters every 2 minutes. She brought us 3 big glasses of water.
The couple at the end of the table were seated in front of the light switch dimmer. Periodically throughout the meal, the woman was adjusting the lighting for the enitre restaurant. Imagine that! A server came over and said, "Oh, I'll take care of that." And adusted the lighting back to the original level. Not 5 minutes later, the woman made ANOTHER adjustment. So very odd she was. She wasn't a happy woman at all. Later in the meal, the couple burst into a low volume, but heated nontheless discussion. Who knew we were going to get dramatic dinner theatre.
I don't recall the Spanish names, so I'll give you what I remember. Chick peas with spinach and garlic, olive assortment, tortilla patata (potato pancake/pie), asparagus with lemon and pistachios, manchego with another cheese I don't remember with salchichon (a Spanish sausage )and almonds and dates. Everything was served cold/room temperature. Of course, I could have asked that in advance, but I wish that the menu stated what was warm and what was cold.
The special of the night was a filet with sofrito for $10. We didn't get that, as I had forgotten about it until we left and I saw it on the board as we walked out.
My faves were the asparagus and the cheese and sausage. The asparagus were cooked perfectly and tender. The tangy lemon sauce had just enough kick, but didn't overpower the dish. The pistachioes added just the right amount of crunch and saltiness. The cheese and sausage were great! The salchichon was super thinly sliced. Kind of like pepperoni is taste and appearance, but not as salty.
None of us were drinking (Leanne is PG in case you hadn't heard) and Sonja and I are on a health kick (HA!). We felt guilty not trying the sangria that I'd heard so much about. Both Sonja and Leanne had tried the red sangria on past visits. The party of three we chatted with when we were first seated mentioned that they had the red and the white and preferred the white. We order one glass of white sangria for Sonja and I to share. It arrive with two straws (points for the server.)
I took a big swig of the sangria. Whoa! Ick! It was all cinnamon. I removed the cinnamon stick hoping that would help. It didn't. It was bitter and very heavily spiced. I was disappointed. Oh well, just not my thing.
The meal for the three of us with 2 mineral waters ($2.50 each) and one sangria ($6 I think) was $51.00 including tax.
I didn't LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it, but I liked it alot. I'll go back and try different things. And try the red sangria next time.
Interesting comments about the absence of soda. I've heard this from a number of people. I don't like soda and wouldn't miss it on a menu, but I know I'm probably in the minority. It does seem somewhat stubborn for a restaurant to have a no-soda policy.
My wife is also pregnant, and with that in mind, I guess I'm left wondering what non-alcoholic beverages are on the menu in lieu of soda. Did you notice any fruit juices?
I'll admit that I've been tempted to try this place, but also spooked by the community tables, which seem like too much enforced "know your neighbor" thinking for me. It sounds like a good place to try with a group of four or more, but maybe not such a good place for couples.
Does Lola's accept reservations? My guess would be "no" except maybe for large groups.
Nope, not until January, Renee.
Silverbear, I think the wife maybe drinking water. There's isn't a full bar, either, as it's tough to make maybe drinks with no soda. I did notice a vodka and pom juice drink on the menu...maybe a glass of pom juice?
I don't find the community table thing too creepy. It reminds me of being in Europe with the tiny tables with no room between them. You just talk more quietly and focus on your party. Probably not a super romantic place for a couple, but a good option.
Nope, no reservations. When we left a little after 8ish there were spots open.
i feel the same way re: community tables. here's what it comes down to... what sort of sitch is that good for?
i tried it with some girlfriends one night, thinking they wouldn't mind the loud and cramped atmosphere, but they damn near booted me for trying to hold onto 5 seats for more than 8 minutes.
you can't really go on a date, because it IS so loud and cramped.. not very intimate.
just really don't get it, and it keeps me from going to an otherwise really cool locale 36 seconds from my home.
it's not meant to be intimate and quiet... that's why they call it community seating. if your party can't make it on time, wait outside until they arrive and then come in to be seated. this is not a VIP lounge where you are their only customer. i wish more places were like this... it's as casual as you get... and i think it's a perfect date place. it's completely not threatening, loose atmosphere... and it really depends on who is next to you when considering the level of noise. at least this place weeds out the rednecks, thugs, and superficial purveyor of foods!
My husband and I enjoy community tables, as they can lead to some good conversations. Our only problem with the table situation at Lola's was that when we went, we were shoehorned into the middle of the longest table -- him on one side, and me on the other, with larger parties at each elbow, and both groups pretty absorbed in their own conversations. We liked the food, but not enough to go back unless we were with a group that wanted to try it. We had a better tapas experience food-wise at Sol y Sombra in N. Scottsdale, and would go that way next time we're in the mood for small plates.
I think perhaps some of you are not understanding exactly what this place is all about. It is not meant to be your "average" Chili's or Red Robin..... No private tables, as in most Tapas restaurants in Spain. Soda is not normally served in Tapas restaurants, this place is meant to be more authentic & not the "average". It's good to step out of your comfort zone & experience something a little different :) Tapas are basically appetizers, not hot meals. Go in there with an open mind, get away fromt he City, pretend you are in Spain. Have some fun...besides if you are preggers, caffeine isn't good for you anyways! :)...PS they have VOSS bottled water too.
I'm not quite sure whom you are addressing, but I posted a review with my revised impressions of Lola's in this thread:
For the most part I liked it, but I'd still prefer individual tables and a broader beverage selection. Still, no place is perfect, and I'm willing to overlook these issues and enjoy Lola's again.
I love the community tables and that they don't serve soda... but then I'm european and used to it. My complaint about Lola is the food.. I've been twice and been really disappointed. All the dishes were lacking in flavor and were overly salty. I really want to love this place but until the food gets better I won't be back.
I have yet to try a tapas because I'm new to the area...but as far as their drink selections go, the coffee is I believe the best I've ever had....at first glance of the cup size (tiny) I thought it was a bit on the pricey side, but after the first sip I was sold. Amazing! ...and strong! ...I also got a muffin to go along with it...pretty good as well and made fresh every morning....As far as the seating situation goes...I think it's part of the great atmosphere this place has. I loved it and will most likely end up a regular.