Last Night 4 friends decided to go out for dinner and with no reservations at 7:30 we knew our options were a bit limited if we wanted to have decent fare a minimal wait. We decided upon Lolas Tapas Bar at 800 E Camelback Road. I have wanted to try this place for quite some time since it opened so I was revved up and ready to eat! We arrived and surveyed the space, small, dark, candlelit, and lively. Our friends had not arrived yet so we went to the small bar (4 bar stools) and ordered two sangrias. We chatted with the bartender Joe who was friendly, creative and generally a hip guy. He told us the story that Daniel and Felicia Wayne owned Lolas (I read in Howard Seftels review that Lola is the nickname of their daughter). They used to run Lux Coffee house, moved to Spain for a few years and then moved back and decided to open a tapas place. Joe also told us that the building next door was going to be where Felicias dance studio was going to be and that a few classes from ASU would be taught there as well as Flamenco dancing, sign me up!
After our first few sips of sangria and we were sold; this was a red wine sangria thankfully not too sweet and with just the right amount of fruit in the glass. Joe also brought us bread and olive oil and menus to peruse while we waited for our friend. I looked around the restaurant and really fell in love with the style. The ceiling was covered in hammered copper art deco tiles and candles are ablaze everywhere transporting you out of Phoenix and into a Spanish Tapas bar. Tapas is a communal dining experience so there are two tables in the space. One sits 18-20 and the other seats 8. There is a four-seat table right near the door and then a very narrow 4 top opposite the bar. The noise level is loud so do not expect a quite romantic evening or much serious conversation, instead plan on talking with your neighbor about what they are eating. With that said the one thing I noticed is that even though this is supposed to be a communal dining experience I dont think the crowd last night was into it. When we tried to make eye contact or engage in conversation people looked at us like we were from mars, hmmph! Our friends arrived we were seated and we immediately ordered the following:
Garden Gazpacho- a bit thick for my taste, but the flavors were there, tomato, cucumber, garlic and I think bread. Very cold and very refreshing. This was served in a 4-ounce espresso style cup. $3.95
Olives- standard mix of olives in oil, one nice touch everyone is presented with their own pit cup and toothpicks are standard on the table so your fingers arent drenched in oil. $3.95
Tortitas de Papas- Fried potato cake with saffron infused mayonnaise; this was probably one of my favorite dishes. Dense, well executed and I wanted to pocket the mayo for a sandwich later. $5.95
Tortitas de Camarones deep fried shrimp cakes, what else can I say? Lovely 5.95
Pinchitos Moruno- these are grilled pork skewers and the our party concurred reminded us of solvalki. Very good. 5.95
Jamon de Manchego y Mahon- besides the potato cake this was my overall favorite dish. Thin sliced smokey ham with wedges of manchego and mahon cheese and roasted almonds. I could have eaten 5 plates of this with red wine all night. 8.95
Roasted Asparagus with pistachios- firm, crisp grilled asparagus with toasted pistachios. With all the salted meat and potatoes we thought it would be wise to incorporate some greenery. Very good.
Our server asked if we would like dessert and then stated if so there was only one blood orange gelato left. You didnt have to twist my arm so we took the last one and also ordered rice pudding. I was given the gelato and I can honestly say this gelato will give most places in town a run for their money, I however did not try the rice pudding but the consensus from the table was that it was delicious. Our total for 4 people including drinks was 113.60, the hubby and I decided that Lolas will definitely become a top on our rotation list.
Side Note: Lolas does not serve any type of Soda, only water, sparkling water, wine, sangria and two types of tap beer.
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