3rd St. Promenade Santa Monica
December 30, 2014
By Sydney Delaney
Lesson for our delicious meal at Loteria Grill: Order boldly and eat well. Because everything we ordered at Loteria Grill tastes muy rico, it is worth it to try something new alongside an old favorite, or several old favorites at this wonderful restaurant where cantina-meets-lounge alongside a bustling bar filled with happy families and couples. Mexican food is the quintessential comfort food of the Southwest and all over California – a burrito can be a hearty yet delicious meal-in-one and there is nothing quite like a mouthwatering taco of savories tucked into a fresh, warm tortilla. Named for the national Mexican game of bingo with colorful Spanish playing cards, Loteria Grill definitely depicts the same vibrant possibilities of mix and match to get the perfect combination on your plate. Truth be told, we were eyeing the steaming dinner platters floating around the front dining room before ordering with our helpful server.
We tried something from almost every corner the menu, while still keeping it close to home with classic favorites of Mexican cuisine from regions all over Mexico. Dinner kicked off with a bowl of house-made guacamole, saddled up next to the smoky house salsa and fresh pico de gallo, mounds of crispy light tortilla chips then a steaming bowl of rich tortilla soup. Our entrees were served with fluffy white rice and tender, savory black beans.
Our drinks included a classic refreshing Mexican beer, Corona, and a house-specialty cocktail: Spicy Oaxaquitas with smoky Mezcal, lime juice, agave and muddled jalapeno, finished with tajin chili-salt blend rim. Loteria’s full bar and beverage menu offers something for everyone, from non-alcoholic aguas frescas like limeade or pineapple, and wonderful house-made cocktails with ingredients like watermelon and tamarind.
Our enchilada platter was a combination of the Vegetable guisos, a zucchini succotash-filled enchilada covered in the Red Chile Guajillo sauce and a Potato-vegetable enchilada covered in Mole. Both were finished generously with crumbles of tangy-creamy queso fresco, perfect alongside cool crema to balance the richness of the sauces and warmth of enchiladas. The fish tacos, Huachinango Estilo Ensenada (Red Snapper in Ensenada style) were joyfully stacked with batter-fried red snapper, diced onion, shredded cabbage and avocado-cilantro sauce were a huge hit at our table. The tacos de camaron disappeared quickly, filled with pan-seared shrimp lightly dressed in citrus Spicy Morita Salsa (one of my favorites on the menu) with slices of onion, avocado and fresh cilantro.
Our amazing Loteria meal ended on a Mexican sweet note with an old favorite – pastel tres leches de café, surrounded by caramel sauce and garnished with fresh berries, a different and welcome choice for an incredibly indulgent dessert. This version of tres leches comes as special surprise because of the rich coffee flavors and sweetness of the milk used to soak the cake strikes a creamy, smooth balance of a good dessert.
Thank you to Stephano and each of the wonderful servers at Loteria Grill in Santa Monica for a wonderful dining experience! Many happy returns and Feliz Año Nuevo!