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Lolo - FINALLY [San Francisco]

Finally tried this place, right around the corner from my house. Actually suggested tonight by my BF's out-of-towner, food-challenged (allergies, etc.) friend. We loved it.

Food challenged boy (FCB) ordered carnitas, explaining to the server his issues. Server went to the kitchen, reported, and they offered jicama tortillas. We were wondering how those would manifest - oh, they must dry out some jicama, make it into a flour, how would that taste, etc. No! They were little tortilla-sized paper thin slices of jicama! Perfect "wraps", if you will. My only complaint is they were served chilled - not sure why they couldn't be steamed warm or even room temp. Still, totally gluten free, non-carb meal for him. The pork was great.

I had the bbq shortrib gorditas, really good, smoky, nice sweetness, tender.. two of them, small, but they sufficed.

The BF had the steak tacos, GREAT. Billed thusly:

"grilled grass-fed angus beef tacos . . . 12.00
grilled kobe beef tacos, hand-made flour tortillas, avocado, habanero infused radishes"

Are they kobe, are they angus? are those mutually exclusive? doubtful that they were kobe, if anything, kobe-style, but they were the bomb. juicy as hell, flavorful.... with a sauce that seemed to be a smoky kind of chimichurri thing. The handmade flour tortillas were the best i've ever had. I don't usually like or order flour tortillas because to me they're inferior to corn. These had a perfect chew to them, and soaked up the juices wonderfully. Three little tacos for $12.00? I'd get them again in a heartbeat.

For starters we split a caesar salad - great, with the addition of red cabbage, nice and anchovy-y. FCB had a roasted artichoke with a lemon aioli. He liked it. Sliced baguette slices for the table came with a pumpkin kind of spread. Very good.

We didn't order as much as you might want to at a tapas-style place, but we were all sated. Had a lovely bottle of nice, berry-centric Malbec - Tempus Alba - from Argentina - soft, non-tannic.

I thought this place used to be more Medi-Turkish-something, but it's definitely more Mexican-focused now, as far as i can tell, and as my first try, wonderful. I want to have everything on the menu. Couple next to us had some amazing-smelling brussels sprouts, and these dishes were particularly calling my name:

octopus tiradito . . . 12.00
octopus tiradito with chilli flakes, sea salt and cascabel aioli

squid in black ink croquetas . . . 9.00
shishito pepper aioli, pickled onions

crab tostadas . . . 15.00
chorizo, leeks, dungeness crab, sandia aioli, avocado puree (!!!! sandia aioli?? watermelon aioli??? !!!)

I know there's a CHer (so sorry, name totally escaping me) in the area who has been touting this place forever, and I'm sorry it took me so long to come here.

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  1. Yes, Kobe and Angus are mutually exclusive, since Kobe (even American "Kobe") should come from wagyu or wagyu-cross cattle and Angus is, well, Angus.

    1. With a name like Lolo, I wonder if they have many customers from Hawaii.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Tripeler

        The reason I mentioned Hawaii is that in Hawaiian slang, "Lolo" means "slow or stupid" when referring to people. The name is amusing in this respect. That's all...

      2. I remember hearing something about Turkish influence, but the owners are from Guadalajara.


        7 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          that's what i thought. I could have sworn I'd seen the menu before and it had a more turkish-medi bent. but if you look at the menu now, it's clearly mexican, if not traditional mexican: http://www.lolosf.com/menu/

          i looked on Yelp at old reviews, but didn't find any clues there...

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            This old thread has more about the origins of the restaurant. There was a Turkish partner at one time.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Thanks Melanie - we weren't all going crazy.

              i see that that jicama as tortilla has been around from their early days.

              And it's pane who kept telling me how great it was! he was right.

              1. re: mariacarmen

                I need to go back; haven't been in years. Nice to hear they still impress.

                1. re: pane

                  i've been told i made a mistake, pane, you're a she, not a he! sorry about that...

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    No worries--I unconsciously added the "s" to "he" when I read it. I'm just glad you put Lolo back on my radar!

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              I live nearby and LoLo's original had a turkish influence -- which really worked quite well with the Mexican. Sadly, the turkish side has disappeared, but the food is still quite good.

            3. Lolo has been around a while. I do recall eating there years ago and, although I thought the place was cute and colorful and lively, I thought the food was only ok.

              We went back to Lolo this week and it far exceeded my expectations. The food was simply delicious. The best dish for us was undoubtedly the Wonton Ravioli with Huitlacoche and Requeson. Smooth and buttery and rich.
              The Tuna tacon was also a really pleasant mix of flavors. The guacamole was perfect and I loved the blue corn chips.
              The Chicken Confit tostadas were wonderfully creamy.

              We had a great meal there this week. Much better than other much more expensive meals where we had greater expectations. Even if you have been here in the past, its definitely worth a return visit.

              1 Reply
              1. re: r.vacapinta

                i'm dying to try those huitlacoche won tons.

              2. Thanks to this discussion, and the blog story, I tried Lolo last night. Overall, I thought it was quite good.

                Brussels sprouts were fried w/ hazelnuts and topped w/ a late harvest zinfandel vinaigrette. Large serving, and nicely browned sprouts.

                Octopus tiradito was a beautiful presentation....the octopus is thinly sliced, then topped w/ chili and sea salt. Photo attached (excuse the bright glare) - it looked like a painting, and had a slightly chewy texture and mildly smoky taste.

                Crab tostadas were made with blue corn...a nice combo of flavors, though this may have been the least interesting dish we tried. The description made it sound more interesting than it tasted, though it certainly wasn't bad.

                Poc chuc was one of the best versions I've ever tried. Pork was spicy and really juicy, and it was served with a spicy habanero salsa.

                All of this, plus 2 glasses of wine, came to a total of $65 before tip, and it was plenty of food for two of us. Nice atmosphere, friendly service, and an interesting specials list. I'd definitely return, including to sit at the bar for a drink and some small plates.

                1. went again last night with a group of 4. we had: guac and chips, the tuna tacos, crab tacos, a rib-eye steak special, the wontons, gambas, octopus tiraditos, and the lamb sliders.

                  our favorite were the tuna tacos - seared albacore was so meaty and fatty it almost tasted like a smokey piece of steak. they were absolutely wonderful. i was less impressed with the huitlacoche wontons than i thought i'd be - while the basil and arugula sauce was tasty, and we loved the texture of the wontons, the flavor of huitlacoche was pretty much lost. still, they were good. the least favorite at our table were the crab tacos - nothing really wrong, but they were just kind of one note. the lamb sliders were fabulous - tender and bursting with good lamby juices. the gambas bravas were fantastic too - nice and garlicky. the octopus was an interesting dish - sliced paper thin, as shown in Dave MP's photo above, and heavily seasoned with chili/paprika (someone at our table likened them to pepperoni!), there was nothing really octopus-like about them for me. they tasted good, but i think i wanted more of the chew, and more of a sea-brine bite.

                  overall, i think this place is doing really wonderful food - surprising, sophisticated, yet homey. oh, and the steak special was great - just a really nice piece of grilled meat cooked perfectly, with some really thin & crispy shoe string fries. this is fast becoming a favorite neighborhood place.

                  1. LOL, I misremembered this thread as being about Lolinda.

                    I was at Lolo this past weekend.

                    The Octopus Tiradito took us aback for a second--- the sliced octopus was submerged in oil and ailoli and wasn't visible until you poked it with a fork. In a similar respect, the sauce, which also included pimenton, overpowered the octopus so this dish was best eaten after wiping away much of the sauce. After doing that, I enjoyed this quite a bit on top of the complementary bread--- it didn't jibe with the grilled bread served with the dish.

                    Fried shishito peppers. Nicely done.

                    Huitlacoche and Requeson : a clever Mexican-Italian fusion. It's essentially hankerchief pasta with pesto, only substituting cheese stuffed folded in half wontons for hankerchief pasta. The wontons were a tad overcooked, but actually less so than the last time I had hankerchief pasta at an Italian restaurant. The earthy huitlacoche and pine nuts helped round out the dish, but the sauce was a bit too rich. I'd get this again.

                    With the outdoor seats, you can benefit from any music being played at Cafe Revolution.

                    1 Reply