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Sea Change: Baja's Javier Plascencia Joins Lola as Chef/Partner

Dave Query hosted Javier Plascencia at Lola in 2016.
Dave Query hosted Javier Plascencia at Lola in 2016.
Mark Antonation

Although Lola Coastal Mexican was still serving on Cinco de Mayo weekend, change — if not plaster dust — was in the air. Thirteen years after moving from Old South Pearl Street into this space at 1575 Boulder Street, creating the spark that led to LoHi's hot-hot dining scene, Lola is undergoing a facelift. That popular front booth is gone, the back dining room encased in plastic. On May 13, the restaurant will close altogether for a week, for even bigger changes: turning the front door on the corner into a window, moving the main entrance to 16th Street, where it was when this portion of Olinger Mortuary housed a chapel.

But when Lola reopens on May 21, it will reveal more than a new physical setup. The restaurant will have a new chef/partner: Javier Plascencia.

“When the time came to redo LOLA, I wanted to have more authenticity,” says Dave Query, founder of Big Red F Restaurant Group, in an announcement of the partnership. “That connection and partnership with Javier is a way to anchor LOLA deep to the authenticity of Baja cuisine.”

Query met the man named "Baja-Diego's hottest chef" in 2015 on Plascencia's back porch in Baja during a Super Bowl party a few years ago. He brought Plascencia to Lola three years ago to cook up a special dinner, and Plascencia liked what he saw.

“I get a special vibe from Dave and his family and from the space at Lola,” Javier says. “And I saw how the food scene in Denver was growing, and that got me excited to share the good cuisine of Mexico.”

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Old newspapers revealed by the remodeling.EXPAND
Old newspapers revealed by the remodeling.

Plascencia's restaurants — including Mision 19, Erizo, Finca Altozano, and Jazamango — have helped define Baja’s cuisine and culinary scene. Bracero Cocina de Raíz, his place in San Diego, was nominated for a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant. Plascencia will continue to operate his own eateries while creating a new menu for Lola. (Executive chef Sheila Lucero will continue to oversee the Lola kitchen while continuing the sustainable seafood sourcing standards she devised for Big Red F's Jax Fish House spots; Lola founding chef/partner Jamey Fader left last year to join the Marczyk Fine Foods team.)

Lola's new menu will focus on ingredients and preparations unique to Baja, incorporating fresh seafood from the region as well as the Asian and Mediterranean flavors that emerge in Baja’s immigrant-influenced cuisine. And appropriately enough for this historic building, Lola's new chef/partner will bring a historic twist. Although Caesar salad isn't new to the Lola roster, the salad was invented in Tijuana at Caesar’s, a restaurant where Plascencia's grandfather worked and which his father owns today.

After closing at the end of service on Sunday, May 12, Lola will reopen on May 21. For more information, call 720-570-8686.

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