If it seems as though The Beacon La Costa shopping center has been commanding a lot of my attention lately, well, it has, and for a few very delicious reasons.
Other than Wise Ox and Shake Shack, both of which I’ve featured in LTP, there are several more food and beverage establishments worthy of your consideration.
Lola 55 is the featured star this time and there is a lot to love about this place.
Let’s start with the backstory of the owner, Frank Vizcarra.
Vizcarra was raised by a single mom in Tijuana, where his early entrepreneurial leanings took shape as he sold eggs to the neighbor’s door-to-door. It sounds like a good deal for both young Frank and the neighbors.
When his family emigrated from Mexico in 1973, soccer became his passion, and he turned that into a successful college career and degree at Ohio State University, then a professional soccer career until 1983.
His business career included corporate gigs with Pizza Hut and McDonalds for over 20 years while sitting on the boards of and investing in more diverse F&B endeavors, including Tender Greens.
As with many gigs like that, the desire to become a restaurateur himself persisted and finally came to fruition with the opening of the first Lola 55 in San Diego’s East Village in 2018 that eventually garnered a Michelin Bib Gourmand award for their “good quality, good value cooking.”
I would have to agree with that assessment 100%, as most of their tacos are in the $4–$7 range, which is a great value given the quality of ingredients and flavor profiles.
The name is derived from Frank’s mother Lola; 1955 is the year he was born, the year Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald’s, the opening of Disneyland, and several other events of historical importance that had a lasting effect on Frank.
His second location in The Beacon Center opened in June of this year and has been generating a great response with its chef-driven tacos and moderate prices.
And while every taco and special I sampled at Lola 55 was a standout, there were two dishes that were as good as I’ve had in the category of rice and beans.
The first was the Chipotle Rice with chicken jus, chipotle, blistered baby tomato and cilantro.
This was about the best side of rice I’ve had at a Mexican-inspired restaurant ever. Same with Lolas Beans, made with creamy Peruvian whites (not refried). Frank could not share much more as they are a labor-intensive process derived from family recipes, and given how good they are, I can fully understand wanting to keep that recipe protected.
Whatever you order at Lola 55, make sure to include these sides.
The Baja-style fish taco is another star with local fish, (currently Thresher shark) remoulade, chorizo-tomato vinaigrette, frisee, pickled serrano, and purple basil.
Are you starting to get the chef-driven angle here? and it’s only $4.95. I should note that Frank works with San Diego fishmonger extraordinaire Tommy Gomes to source as locally and sustainably as possible.
I also sampled the steak taco with mesquite-grilled steak, mash, avocado mousse, smoky pasilla salsa, crispy leeks and a jalapeno toreado.
Another flavor explosion in my mouth with this one. My call is to get three of these and three fish tacos and have a surf and turf taco feast.
The Pork Belly Al Pastor and Smoked Carnitas Tacos are also very popular and feature the same chef-driven ingredients as the rest of the menu.
There is also a Caesar salad and a very nice-looking pozole soup.
There was also a ceviche special I sampled that was really tasty but could have been a bit larger. That’s OK, though, as portion control is one of my new mantras for healthy living. It was just really good, though and I wanted more.
There is also a cocktail program with drinks that pair perfectly with the tacos.
All the syrups, shrubs and cordials are made fresh in-house with fresh local, when available, ingredients. I found a very refreshing Alborino wine that worked nicely with my mix of dishes as well.
Desserts are hardly overlooked as well, with stellar selections like Dark Chocolate Mole Ice Cream, Horchata Ice Cream, Pumpkin Ice Cream and Churros and Churro Sundae.
Lola 55 is another great reason for foodies to check out the Beacon La Costa Center in Carlsbad.
Check them out at www.lola55.com.