Photos: Lola Guest Chef Brings Cali-Baja Cuisine to Denver

Local fish and Baja scallop aguachile with heirloom tomato, chiltepin pepper, cucumber and lime.EXPAND
Local fish and Baja scallop aguachile with heirloom tomato, chiltepin pepper, cucumber and lime.
Mark Antonation

Lola has been a proponent of Mexican seafood from the day it opened in its original location on Old South Pearl Street in 2002 through the move its current spot in Lower Highland (where it's already a revered old-timer), so welcoming Baja California chef/restaurateur Javier Plascencia for a guest lunch and dinner seemed a natural fit. Dave Query, whose Big Red F restaurant group runs Lola, and culinary director Jamey Fader traveled to Mexico earlier this year to cook and dine with Plascencia at several of his restaurants. And yesterday Lola reciprocated with two meals from the chef, who has earned a reputation as one of the forerunners of a coastal Mexican style of cuisine that combines the best of Baja California components and traditions with Mediterranean techniques and ingredients that have flourished in the region's climate.

Plascencia, who calls his cooking style "Cali-Baja," points out that the Baja peninsula not only produces top-caliber seafood — like the firm, sweet Baja scallops he served in an bracing and spicy aguachile dish — but also is becoming known for its vineyards and olive orchards. After a difficult period of violence and reduced tourism because of Mexico's drug cartels, the chef says, the region has been revitalized, and his restaurants, including several in Tijuana and Ensenada and the new Bracero Cocina de Raiz in San Diego, are flourishing. Bracero is up for a James Beard Foundation award for Best New Restaurant this year.

Big Red F founder Dave Query and guest chef Javier Plascencia.EXPAND
Big Red F founder Dave Query and guest chef Javier Plascencia.
Mark Antonation

Although the dishes that Plascencia presented were part of a one-day affair, Query and Fader's experiences on their trip — which Fader calls "life-changing" — have rubbed off on Lola's menu, and several new dishes are available on the spring menu. You won't see those firm Baja scallops, which had to be flown in the night before for Plascencia's lunch and dinner, but there are plenty of other options to choose from. Keep reading for more photos of the Javier Plascencia lunch.

Grilled oysters being plated.EXPAND
Grilled oysters being plated.
Mark Antonation
Culinary director Jamey Fader introduces Lola's guest chef.EXPAND
Culinary director Jamey Fader introduces Lola's guest chef.
Mark Antonation
Charcoal-grilled surf and turf oysters: Beef short-rib tortita, chile-verde relish and pickled radish.EXPAND
Charcoal-grilled surf and turf oysters: Beef short-rib tortita, chile-verde relish and pickled radish.
Mark Antonation
Ahi tuna tostada with Sonora beef machaca, avocado, serrano ponzu, pickled onion and garlic aioli.EXPAND
Ahi tuna tostada with Sonora beef machaca, avocado, serrano ponzu, pickled onion and garlic aioli.
Mark Antonation
Guest in Lola's dining room dig into the ocean's bounty from Baja.EXPAND
Guest in Lola's dining room dig into the ocean's bounty from Baja.
Mark Antonation
Bone marrow-and-shrimp sope with chile de arbol salsa, beef jus and fried parsley.EXPAND
Bone marrow-and-shrimp sope with chile de arbol salsa, beef jus and fried parsley.
Mark Antonation
Duck confit buñuelo with pickled tomatillo, fig mole negro and cacao nibs.EXPAND
Duck confit buñuelo with pickled tomatillo, fig mole negro and cacao nibs.
Mark Antonation
Lunch service at Lola.EXPAND
Lunch service at Lola.
Mark Antonation
Chef Plascencia explains his culinary inspirations.EXPAND
Chef Plascencia explains his culinary inspirations.
Mark Antonation
Placscencia's menu with chips and salsa.EXPAND
Placscencia's menu with chips and salsa.
Mark Antonation
Margs and menus.EXPAND
Margs and menus.
Mark Antonation
The scallops for this dish were flown in the night before.EXPAND
The scallops for this dish were flown in the night before.
Mark Antonation
Inside Lola.EXPAND
Inside Lola.
Mark Antonation
Lola's silver coin margarita.EXPAND
Lola's silver coin margarita.
Mark Antonation
The dining room at Lola ready to welcome lunch guests.EXPAND
The dining room at Lola ready to welcome lunch guests.
Mark Antonation
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miles
Lola Coastal Mexican

1575 Boulder St.
Denver, CO 80211

720-570-8686

www.loladenver.com


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