The interior of the recently opened Mama Lolita's in Broomfield is nothing short of striking. Neatly lined rows of wooden tables sit beneath a hanging garden of vines dangling from the space's high industrial ceiling. Across the room from the sleek, all-white bar, tropical-looking plants drape over a chic lounge area next to towering windows. Yet even in this visual playground, owner Joe Mazzocco and the Mama Lolita's team find a way to let the food and drink take the spotlight.
"Elevated Mexican. That's kind of our concept throughout, from the front of the house to the back of the house," Mazzocco says. From the walls to the plates, Mama Lolita's design — created with help from Mazzocco's friend and former colleague Eli Hariton of TVL Creative
— complements its food, which is equally complex.
Named after Mazzocco's grandmother, whom he has fond memories of gathering around the dinner table with, Mama Lolita's focuses on communal dining in an open setting. "This is kind of my homage to her. We used to go to her house to eat two to three times a week — a lot of sides, a lot of shared plates, a lot of different accoutrements so you could pick and make your own plates. That's the same kind of style of food that we do here," Mazzocco notes.
Food at Mama Lolita's is what owner Joe Mazzocco calls "elevated Mexican."
With a menu that prominently features Mexican bites with some unexpected twists in an approachable presentation, Mama Lolita's emphasizes the importance of dining together. "[We're] trying to pull away from that 'I'll have the steak, she'll have the chicken' kind of mentality," Mazzocco explains. "It's a very interactive dining experience."
The colorful ingredients and bright garnishes truly pop on Mama Lolita's neutral-colored plates, which chef de cuisine Josh Becker says was part of the plan and helps to highlight the fare. "We work with a lot of different local farmers, vendors, suppliers, so on and so forth. We want to be able to do their food justice. If they're going to take the time to grow something incredibly great, we want to be able to complement those flavors and those colors and those textures. You know, as chefs, that's really something important to be able to harness nowadays rather than just putting food on a plate," Becker explains. He and Mazzocco previously worked together in the kitchen at Cherry Creek Country Club, where Becker was executive chef at the time.
Currently, the kitchen's sweet corn and blistered shishito peppers are grown on local farms, along with all the tomatoes for Mama Lolita's housemade salsas. As the seasons change, the menu items will, too, based on the available local crops. "We'll be doing seasonal changes as things are coming and going. We'll definitely be switching up the menu with different items," Becker says. "We'll be running special-featured menus, and we're going to do tequila dinners in the future, working with some of our great tequila distilleries."
The hamachi crudo is a sashimi-grade yellowtail topped with pickled Fresno peppers, pine nuts and a tomatillo aguachile sauce.
The bar program is designed to appeal to the tequila aficionado, with a lineup of additive-free spirits. One of Mazzocco's recent favorites is Lalo; made by Don Julio's grandson, it uses only three ingredients in its tequila: agave, yeast and water. Look for Lalolita's Margarita, made with Lalo tequila, agave, triple sec and lime juice, and the Man Go to Chili, with its addition of mango purée.
Thoughtful touches are important to Mazzocco in all aspects of the restaurant. "We have a different goal and different message that we're trying to portray," he says, "everything from the decor to behind the bar to behind the kitchen. My sister did [the] macramé. She has a small company, and she did all the ceramics in here. My brother helped me with the graphics on the wall and all that stuff. We try to do everything within-house; we try to do everything as local as we can, try to keep everybody involved. It's very much a family affair."
For Mazzocco, the restaurant represents a major point on a long journey that began with culinary school in Chicago after high school and includes years of working in restaurants in Vail and Denver. "Hopefully I can pass on some of the knowledge I've gained by working alongside the best chefs during Denver's heyday," he notes. For the first-time owner, the opportunity to open Mama Lolita's was special. "Honestly, it's pretty terrifying. But I know that we have put together the right team to not only be successful, but to stand out in the Colorado restaurant scene," he says.
Soon, the Mama Lolita's team will launch happy hour and a weekend brunch. "We have a lot of things in store for Broomfield. ... I am very excited to shake up the food scene," Becker concludes.
Mama Lolita's is located at 8181 Arista Place in Broomfield and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit mamalolitas.com.
All of the tequilas in Mama Lolita's expansive selection are additive-free.