Casa Lola, Kitchen de Mexico: Restaurant Spotlight
Carlos Cortes was having a bit of a concern about his restaurant. He is used to serving a fast-casual style of cuisine, typical of places like Q’doba, another restaurant he manages. However, at his new eatery, Casa Lola, he wants it to be more than just getting a quick bite. This place needs to evoke a fine dining atmosphere, but without the high-dollar tag that follows these establishments.
Tucked in the back of The Village on Scholls Ferry shops, where Beaverton ends and open fields dominate the landscape, Casa Lola-Kitchen de Mexico, is a fresh take on traditional Mexican cuisine. The menu reflects the personality of Carlos, who grew up in Mexico City. He wanted dishes that reminded him of home, influences from the Oaxaca, Puebla, and Toluca regions of his homeland; meals that you get to take your time eating and you feel full and satisfied once finished. The mole in his Guajolote en Mole Rojo (Roasted turkey breast) reminds him of the mole his mom made. The Pollo Relleno is indicative of what his wife makes. Just a couple of items on the menu that Carlos feels his customers will appreciate.
Sitting down with Carlos is like being invited as a guest. The conversation jumps from his growing up to constantly keeping busy to pinpointing the exact feel of his restaurant so that it brings in the customers. From tinkering with the ‘happy hour’ menu for maximizing his slow periods to introducing a brunch in the first week of December (10am-2pm), he is thinking of his customer first.
As we are discussing these varied topics, we are also enjoying a few of his menu choices including one that is not on the menu (yet) which has four half limes and a small mound of jicama, all dusted with a little chili powder. And here’s the kicker, and I mean that literally: the limes are infused with tequila! I also got to try the Taquitos de Tinga, which are filled with shredded chicken and chipotle, onions and tomatoes, then topped with queso fresco, Mexican cream, avocados, lettuce and radish. They are smoky and crispy and delicious.
As were are noshing on the plate of taquitos, out comes some nachos, loaded with carnitas, queso, crema, tomato, cilantro. So we are enjoying the nachos, the taquitos and then the server begins to prepare some guacamole, table-side! Let me tell you something, great guacamole is a simple process that can easily be ruined with too many ingredients. Not here. Just some onions, jalapenos, tomato, salt, and lime juice mixed up and you are good to go.
Finally, something for the kids and vegetarians alike, we finish off with some vegetarian enchiladas, filled with carrots and potatoes and topped with a pasilla sauce, crema, quesa fresco, lettuce and tomatoes. If you want, you can still add chicken or carnitas but there is something special about this simple dish. Personally, I feel that stuffing enchiladas with root vegetables are amazing and underappreciated
What I take away from my experience, here at Casa Lola, is not only the litany of fresh peppers growing in the outside patio (nice touch!) or the small library of books about Mexican history and culture near the bar, it is the passion that Carlos brings to the table. He really wants this restaurant to be an homage to his upbringing for the people of Beaverton. I think he struck Aztecan gold with this one!
Casa Lola, 16305 SW Barrows Rd #100, Beaverton, OR 97007, (503) 567-8131