Loteria Studio City
And off we went last night, 5 hungry gringos, looking for something unique. Good news, bad news.
Good news: While there wasn't anything particularly unique at Loteria, our experience was thoroughly enjoyable. I liked the spare but specific decor, the space wasn't crowded, the tables were comfortable.
Bad news: due to a delayed liquor license (they promised it will be in place within the next couple of weeks) the bar hasn't opened so there's no beer, wine or alcohol available (and they're not allowing you to bring your own.) Certainly didn't affect the dining experience but it would have been nice to have a margarita ... or five, with dinner.
Our server, Julio, was terrific. Amusing, endearing, entertaining and efficient. Despite the store having been opened a mere 3 days, he was knowledgeable about the menu, food preparations and descriptions.
The menu has plenty to offer in various configurations, sizes and heat levels in addition to several respectable vegetarian selections. (Not too many places offer Huitlacoche Quesadillas but why Huitlacoche is referred to as “corn truffle” eludes me.) All toppings are available as a plate, a taco, burrito, tostada or sope.
For starters, we shared the Queso Fundido (melted cheese with chorizo or mushrooms, roasted onions and peppers - outstanding), Guacamole (as good as it gets) and the Probaditas (taco sampler platter, taste-eeee) Had we not ordered them for the table, I'd have ordered this plate of a dozen, bite-sized tacos, as my entree. My favorite was the Cochinita Pibil with Pickled Habaneros. This was an efficient way to try most everything offered although I'd have liked to have had at least ONE with shrimp and one with lengua (tongue. Tongue . . . mmmm!)
For entrees we tried 4 kinds of enchiladas ( Suizas - Tomatillo Sauce, Rojas - Red Guajillo, De Pipian - Red Pumpkin Seed and Peanut and Enfrijoladas - Black Bean Sauce) Liked 'em all but the Guajillo was particularly good.
Also had Carnitas en Salsa Morita and a Tostada with Carne Deshebrada. I thought the carnitas were a bit dry and the Salsa Morita (chipotle based) almost overwhelming but necessary to hydrate the pork. The tostada was excellent. The beef tangily spiced, mounded atop a traditional flat tortilla under shredded lettuce, Mexican crema, Queso Fresco and more of that excellent guacamole.
Including tip, we got out for about $30 dollars a person, quite respectable as far as I’m concerned. Once they get that liquor license, we’ll be back for more. I say check it out.