Phantom Gourmet: Mexican Food At Lola’s Cantina In Providence, RI

Phantom Gourmet: Mexican Food At Lola’s Cantina In Providence, RI

PROVIDENCE, RI – No matter what the weather is outside, it’s always sizzling at Lola’s Tequila Bar and Cantina in Providence. Lola’s brings a taste of Mexico to a comfortable watering hole situated right on the Providence River.

“It’s very casual. It’s cozy,” said Executive Chef Cara Duskin. “It’s got one of the best views of the city of Providence, I think, because it’s right on the marina. It’s an easy going atmosphere with food that’s – I mean I’m biased – but it’s delicious.”

You’ll always find Caran back in the kitchen making modern versions of Mexican classics while General Manager Amy DeSantis tends to the customers enjoying the ambiance.

“Who doesn’t want to come here and enjoy a lovely warm day, or just look out the windows even when it’s a rainy day, and enjoy the sites of Providence? It’s a great location and it’s an awesome place to just kick back, enjoy a $4 margarita and relax,” said Amy.

Yes. You read right. Amy said a Margarita for only 4 Dollars.

“It’s an awesome, delicious margarita. They’re hand crafted by our bartenders as they’re ordered. Salt or sugar on the rim. Maybe a little bit of both? Fresh squeezed lime juice, triple sec and tequila. Can’t go wrong.”

While the drinks are delicious, Chef Cara’s authentic Mexican cuisine is mouthwatering. There are Fried Plantains topped with housemade queso fresco and lime mayo, hot queso fundido served with tortilla chips, and nachos so impressive, they’re known as the “Super Nachos.”

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Super Nachos at Lola’s (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“We have Super Nachos because it’s not just a little bit of nachos, it’s literally served on a plate about this big,” said Cara, holding her hands at shoulder width. “We actually use our fresh corn tortilla chips, our Monterey jack cheddar blend, house made chorizo and our black beans, and we smother the chips in layers so you actually get two gigantic layers of the chips and the chorizo and the beans and the cheese, and then we put lettuce and pico, and it’s served with a nice big glop of sour cream and guacamole right on the top. Definitely one of everyone’ favorites. Everyone that comes to Lola’s tries the nachos.”

Cara also made sure the menu included Mexican street food staples like grilled Corn smothered in cheese, lime mayo and chili powder, and tasty tortas filled with pork.

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Pork tortas at Lola’s (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“It’s this great slow-cooked pork butt that we cook for 3-4 hours at a time, and it’s just served on this great bread that’s buttery and crunchy on the outside. Everything keeps together nicely and it’s just a great balance of flavors.”

Of course, Lola’s offers all of your Mexican restaurant standards like Chicken Enchiladas topped with a complex Oaxacan Mole, and trios of tacos served alongside rice and beans. But the real show stopper is the Carne Asada Fajitas, sautéed steak served on a cast iron skillet that will awake all the senses.

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Carne Asada Fajitas at Lola’s (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“You can hear them coming if you’re not looking. So people definitely turn and look when they see them sizzling by,” said Amy.

“It is this delicious smoky flavor of the mojo,” Cara said. “These skillets are completely seasoned and they just make the most beautiful noise. The minute everything hits this it’s just a searing that you hear all the way down the hallway. Everything smells smoky and delicious. It’s fantastic.”

Cara also loves to get a little creative back in the kitchen, fusing Mexican flavors into all kinds of dishes, like a south of the border version of lasagna.

“A lot of people are like, ‘Hey, where’s the gravy on this lasagna?” Cara laughed. “It’s actually made layered with our corn tortillas, and the salsa verde that we use in house is actually the sauce for it. It’s served with our black beans, some of our raw house poblanos, and it’s actually layered with red, yellow, green bell peppers, some fresh roasted corn, some of our Monterey cheese blend, and then it’s all topped with the salsa verde and cheese, and it’s baked in the oven until the cheese is just melty and gooey and delicious. It’s a beautiful dish.”

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Mexican lasagna at Lola’s (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

For a sweet ending to your meal at Lola’s, there’s Mexican Churros doused in cinnamon and sugar, and ultra-addictive soppapillas: crispy fried dough drenched in a cayenne honey glaze.

“They’re crunchy because we fry them. And they’re very sweet because of the honey, but right at the end they get this really nice kick to them because we actually put cayenne in the glaze for them,” explained Cara. “So they’re a great balance of sweet and spicy. I think for the most part, they’re what people expect Mexican dessert to taste like.”

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Soppapillas at Lola’s (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Actually all of the food is way beyond what people expect at a Mexican restaurant, and that’s because Cara cares about the ingredients that go into each and every dish.

“The ingredients are the life of every plate you put out. And taking the care to put every ounce of what you have into each ingredient, to make it not just a mediocre meal but just a fantastic dish all together, at the end of the day people can taste that. People can taste the love that you put into your food and the spirit behind it when you take the time to delve into each ingredient and make sure it’s something more than just average.”

You can find Lola’s Tequila Bar and Cantina at 525 South Water Street in Providence, and online at lolascantina.com.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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