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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

recipe:: stuffed pablano peppers

We found this recipe recently on Pinterest, and we’d been waiting to try it on a Sunday night since it seemed a little more involved than a one-pot dish that we might make on a work night. Craig got the giant peppers at our international farmer’s market in Smyrna, and I highly recommend shopping somewhere like that for produce… so much cheaper than a regular grocery store! I’d also recommend wearing rubber gloves when handling the peppers to reduce the risk of getting anything in your eyes. It’s happened to Craig before, and I’m surprised he didn’t end up having to wear an eye patch.

The dish was actually less complicated than we anticipated, and it was delicious. Just the right amount of spice, and the goat cheese really added a nice balance to the mixture. The recipe we used was vegetarian, but we chose to add in ground beef. With the beef added in, we had TONS of filling leftover. So next time, we’ll have to buy more peppers and invite some dinner guests over!


Quinoa-Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Chipotle Sauce

Adapted from the blog Once Upon a Cutting Board

Serves 4 (if each person eats one pepper, but we had 2 apiece)
Ingredients:
4 large poblano peppers
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup dry quinoa
1/3 cup vegetable or chicken stock (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1 garlic clove
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
1 lb ground beef (optional)
1 small yellow onion
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 roma tomatoes, diced
4 ounces goat cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 475°F.  Rub poblano peppers with two teaspoons of vegetable oil and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Roast in the preheated oven until soft and slightly blackened in spots, about 15-20 minutes, flipping once.  Let cool.

Meanwhile, bring 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan (you use part vegetable or chicken stock for quinoa to infuse extra flavor, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have any open stock, you can use 2/3 cup water instead).  Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer.  Cook until tender, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes, then remove lid and fluff with a fork.
While peppers and quinoa are cooking, prepare the chipotle sauce in a blender.  Combine chipotle chile, garlic, 3/4 cup water, and a dash each of salt and pepper in the blender and blend until smooth.  Add 1/2 cup cilantro and pulse a few times to combine.  Set aside.
In a large saucepan or deep skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat.  Add ground beef and saute until brown. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add corn, black beans, tomato, and cooked quinoa and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes.  Add 2 ounces goat cheese and stir until it’s melted and completely mixed in.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make a small slit down the length of one side of each pepper, being careful not to cut through to the other side.  Carefully remove seeds, leaving stem end intact.  Spoon quinoa mixture into each pepper to fill them.


Pour chipotle sauce into a 9×13-inch baking dish.  Transfer stuffed peppers to the dish, and dot with remaining 2 ounces goat cheese.  Bake until cheese is golden, 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool in pan 10 minutes and serve warm, sprinkled with additional chopped cilantro if desired.

Enjoy!