restaurant review:: Lola’s Burrito Joint in Jacksonville, FL

You already know that we went to Jacksonville, FL last weekend for a covert mission… to surprise our mom with a big party for her 60th birthday! We got into town on Friday and had to sneak out to dinner (while looking over our shoulders the whole time, as our mom was staying with our grandmother nearby). My cousin Alli suggested a great pizza place called Pele’s Woodfire over in Riverside. It was so yummy! But on to Lola’s…

We also had to entertain ourselves for lunch on Saturday in between setting up for the party in the morning, antique bar cart shopping, and picking up food for the party that afternoon. We happened upon another Riverside restaurant, Lola’s Burrito Joint. Our waitress said it’s only been open about 6 months. It’s very Day of the Dead-ish with motorcycle-riding skeletons hanging from the ceiling and more skeletons airbrushed onto car hoods hanging on the walls. They also have 50+ beers on tap. The menu was pretty overwhelming, but our waitress was very knowledgeable and explained every section and gave her personal favorites.

lolas1
party4
Lolas2
There were so many choices…. I could have ordered 10 different things and been happy with any of them. Our waitress raved about the Mexican Street Corn, which is deep-fried (husk and all) and coated with fresh cilantro, Cotija cheese and Lola’s Adobo. Everyone but me got it as an appetizer, and it’s AMAZING!! Apparently customers call it “crack corn” and we all agreed that it is the perfect description. We also had the queso and chips, which I could have eaten for my meal… love some cheese dip!

party3

Here are some of our other faves from the menu::

Tiajuana 2-Steppers (Top-Shelf & Grilled… like a burrito, but pressed and crispy on the outside)
I got the Philly “Wizza” Steak (grilled peppers/onions/mushrooms, diced tomatoes, and covered with Jalapeño cheese sauce). It was good — the meat was a little hard to eat in a burrito. The cheese sauce was definitely my favorite part. My brother got the Havana Nights Better that a Cuban, and I think I may have liked it better than mine.

Senora Gloria’s Empanadas (Hand pressed and made to order)
I didn’t try these, but I was told they were the most AMAZING thing ever. 🙂

Ragun Cajun (seasoned gator, cabbage, diced tomatoes, cheese with Cajun Ranch sauce)
I didn’t try this either, but Craig liked it, as well as the other tacos he tried. I just thought it was fun that they had gator tacos, along with lamb and other interesting meats.

I also got a side of refried black beans – they were hot and cheesy and so good!

lolas3
All four of us raved about the food, especially that “crack corn.” I wish I’d gotten my own so I could have had more than a couple bites. But there’s always next time!

celebrating 60 years of mom!

My mom turned 60 on December 3rd… and what better way to celebrate than with a bunch of family and childhood friends? She is from Jacksonville, FL, and we still have a lot of family (and her friends) there, so it seemed like the obvious location for her party. The only problem is that my parents live about 4.5 hours away… so we had to come up with a plan to get her there on her own. Good thing my aunts and grandmother are good schemers! Mom was under the assumption that she was going to Jax last weekend for a little family welcome party for her aunt and uncle who are moving back to FL from CA. They aren’t moving until January, but she was none the wiser and agreed to come up to see everyone. She also thought my dad was going to be out of state for work all weekend. he he he

My aunt Lynn is a very talented watercolor painter, so she graciously offered to paint an image for the invitation. We went retro with the theme – the party was actually held at my mom’s childhood home, where my aunt and uncle now live. I scoured etsy.com (which is essentially like an online handmade marketplace) and found some great party decorations, like this felt birthday banner. I love the festive colors and the fact that I can reuse it on my mantle for every birthday in coming years.

mom2

I really wanted some cute decorative cookies as party favors, and I happened upon a website for Ali’s Sweet Treats in Miami, FL. I’d originally planned to do something decorative with icing… until I realized I could put mom’s face on them! I chose this photo of her as a child because it’s been hanging in our house for as long as I can remember, and it just looks so sweet — like the cookies. See what I did there?

mom4

MyPublisher.com is my favorite way to make photo books. I found the website on the Young House Love blog last year, and I’ve been a photo book-making fool ever since. It’s such an easy site to use, and you have endless options on layouts and styles. All you do is upload your photos to the site, and then it can auto-populate them into the book — but I always choose to create my own layouts because it allows me to group photos together in a specific way. MyPublisher is ALWAYS having some sort of sale, so you can get great discounts on books whenever you make them… and if you don’t see one when you’re ready to buy your book, then just save it and wait a few days — one is bound to pop up.

Here’s the photo book I created for mom’s party as a guest book for everyone to sign. I borrowed photos from her albums (under the guise of looking for wedding slideshow photos) when we were home this fall and scanned them so I could do a “celebration of 60 years” book::

mom3

mom5

In keeping with our retro theme, my aunt suggested serving “Not So Shirley Temples” — a grown-up twist on the classic — because this was their favorite drink during summers spent at the local country club.

mom6

Mom’s favorite people::
mom10

Mom, her brother, and her sister::

mom9

I love that after all these years, mom is still so close with her childhood best friends::

mom8

Cousins::

mom11

The Birthday Girl::
mom7

We wanted to have something fun for the guests to do, so we created a photo station. I borrowed this great red/white striped curtain from a neighbor (it just happened to perfectly match our theme), and bought some funny disguises and mini chalk boards on sticks on etsy. I bought some chalk markers in neon colors for guests to write messages. I also have a stash of costumes and props from my sorority days in college, so I threw in a fireman’s hat, feather boas, masks, etc. And my aunt had a TERRIFYINGLY realistic snake to add to the mix. It was Lauren’s favorite, by far. The photo area was so fun – I just wish we’d gotten more photos!

mom14
mom15
mom17

This absolutely should have been our family Christmas card photo this year::

mom16

mom13

Two of my favorite ladies — my mom and grandmother, Nana::

mom12

Mom’s cake was from For the Love of Cake, a relatively new bakery in Riverside. My cousin Alli recommended it, and it was a bit hit! They perfectly re-created the red Mary Jane’s that my Aunt Lynn designed for the invitation. You can’t see it in the photo, but the cake was sparkly, too!

mom18

Happy 60th Birthday, Mom!! We love you so much!

And here are some out-takes from setting up the photo station before the party…. enjoy!

party1
party2