The “Highland Triangle” is a term that needs to be introduced into the Denver dining lexicon. There must be something in the water, or in the tequila. No there haven’t been any mysterious plane crashes nor do pirates fear sailing through the “Highland Triangle.” In fact, if they were smart pirates, they’d raise their sails and head across I-25 as soon as possible. There are at least three top quality, food-related establishments, and at least two more decent quality, food-related establishments located within a sand wedge of the intersection of 30th and Tejon. Of course I’m referring to the top-quality establishments of Linger, Little Man Ice Cream, and Lola Denver and the decent quality establishments of Vita and Amato’s Ale House. The one I’m here to profile is Lola Denver. Lola brings Mexican seafood to cattle country, which as it turns out, was absolutely necessary.
You can’t get guacamole like this at Taco John’s. You can’t get lobster quesadillas like this at Del Taco. And you can’t get mahi mahi like this at T-Bell. But it isn’t just that Lola is better than the major Mexican fast food chains, it’s that Lola is better than any Mexican seafood concept restaurant I have ever been to. High praise, I know. But I mean it. Lola ain’t just slinging tacos, beans and rice, they’re slinging tacos delicately stuffed with “oh so tender” braised beef. The tuna poke will make you wonder if it was you and not the tuna that should’ve been poke’d. If you’re into crustaceans, I’d recommend the caldo de mariscos, a big bowl of shrimp, crab, mussels, clams and calamari in a tomato chili broth.
Lola serves more than just good food, they serve up charisma. Order some guacamole and watch what happens. All of the sudden you have a courtside seat to an avocado dismemberment. Knife play has never looked so delicious. And don’t devour the guac too quickly or you might miss out on the writing of Lola in the chili powder on the corner of the plate. Entrees: check. Appetizers: check. Style: Check. And, oh yeah, the margaritas. Lola is mixing some solid but more importantly strong margaritas. They have a huge selection of tequila, about which I know very little but which I enjoyed drinking very much. Their cheapest margarita, the Silver Coin, is a good place to start. If hard liquor isn’t your scene, they have Pacifico on tap. As Kenny Chesney once said to Renee Zellwegger, “You had me at Pacifico.”
The Highlands are known for their serious Mexican food. There is no shortage of taco shops and restaurants. These restaurants are part of the increasingly disappearing identity of the neighborhood. Lola makes a worthy addition to the Mexican scene in the Highlands. At the end of The Shawshank Redemption, wrongfully convicted Andy Dufresne escapes prison and heads to Zihuatenejo, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. I never understood why, but after eating some of the dishes at Lola, I suspect he went for the seafood. So order a rock sharpener from Morgan Freeman and start tunneling out of your own personal culinary prison and head for Lola in the Highlands. Take a cab. Drink some tequila.
1575 Boulder St
Denver, CO 80211