Lola’s Kitchen and Bar feels like a big philosophical departure from its city center predecessor on the High Street. It occupies the space near the Commons once occupied by Tio’s Tacos & Tequila. Tio was on the dark and comfortable side, and while all is well, change is good too. At Lola, it’s all freshness and light with its white painted brick wall that rises in height. The reflective hues provide a crisp, sharp contrast to its darker tables and seats.
The house menu is a manageable mix that could be described as world cuisine. You will therefore find pizzas, pastas… and tacos. At first the tacos were a surprise. But the more you look, the more influences you see on the menu, which includes quesadillas and a Cuban sandwich. That of Lola will not be classified properly.
So about Tacos. They are found on the aperitif menu, three with each order. In their classic form, tortillas are filled with tender, savory short ribs. The Americano version adds crispy shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa, and the combo satisfies a general taco craving ($16).
But Columbus has plenty of taco outlets, and the turkey meatballs ($14) definitely feel like a more valuable find. First, because the meatballs are honestly good – not metallic like turkey can sometimes be. Tender and paired with a thick, sturdy homemade marinara, grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of basil asparagus, they come across as a quality product worth ordering over and over again.
After exploring the appetizers section, there are plenty of ways to make it: pizza, quesadillas, sandwiches… or Jambalaya Pasta ($21) is a reasonable direction to move in. Thin curls of angel hair pasta form the base of a savory nest of nuggets including chicken, shrimp, sausage and roasted peppers, all topped with a spicy tomato and fennel based broth. The variety of elements ensures that every bite is a little different and every bite is delicious.
The house prime rib is back in the Carrozza Rib Shorts ($16). This would come from the grilled cheese section of the menu. In carrozza translates to in a carriage, and the car hauling the short rib home is a pretty smooth ride. The short rib sandwich has cheese inside, but more importantly, there’s more cheese on top. No token cheese, a delicious bonus cover of provolone and fontina, caramelized and ready to dip in broth. It is served with a collection of crisp herbed potatoes, worthy of a gastric space.
There’s a lot more to explore on the menu. Beyond the aforementioned pizzas and quesadillas, there’s a super serious salad section that offers classic combos like kale and Brussels sprouts, as well as edgier teams, like in a salad that pairs arugula and watermelon. . And there’s also a classic French onion soup.
Lola’s hosts a full bar with an extensive happy hour that runs from 4-6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. on weekends. It’s open for dinner Wednesday through Friday, with brunch and dinner hours on weekends. You can find it at 201 S. High St.
For more information, visit lolakitchenbar.com.
All photos by Susan Post