We reeled in a big one for our latest monthly meeting. Booked at the end of October, we scored a four-top for late November in one of the few open seating times during normal dinner hours for the entire month at Colita. Needless to say, the hype was HYPED. First of all, the space is super profesh. It has clean lines, slick decor, and a hyped “living wall” behind the bar pumping out enough oxygen to both feed the housemade ferments that go into their cocktails, and get everyone a little high like it’s 2010 and we’re all hyped about those new oxygen bars.
Speaking of which, that bar, and the tender of it, has been getting a little bit of, shall we say, hype. Marco Zappia has had not one, not two, not three, but four profiles written about him (plus multiple more referencing that last link of his inclusion on Forbes’ hyped “30 Under 30” list). And what’s even crazier — when he’s not bartending he somehow finds time to moonlight as a dead TV editor!
We ordered most of the food menu, with helpful suggestions from our server. I don’t remember his name, so let’s call him Jeremy. He looked like a Jeremy. We had a first course of baked oysters, aguachile, shrimp “taco” (but actually lettuce wrap) and a lobster tostada that Jeremy helpfully described as “super dank.” Everything in this first round tasted incredible and had me feeling all sorts of Lou Vega vibes (“A little bit of Monica in my life / A little bit of Colita by my side”). Proving there’s nothing it can’t do, bacon made those already deeply flavorful baked oysters magical. The fact that the shrimp taco was actually made out of lettuce did not detract from my enjoyment of said taco. And that lobster tostada was indeed dank. I closed my eyes and saw myself riding that great big lobster in the sky, bouncing off clouds, each one bursting with a new flavor — blacklight turned out, the Dead on the stereo playing their hit “POACHED IN FUCKING CORN BUTTER.” I don’t know if it was the lobster or that living wall, but I felt hyped.
Our second course consisted of the chicken liver memelita, tlayuda, cacio e pepe stacked tostadas, and Kansas City pork ribs. My good friend Jeremy, a self-described pâté snob, hyped the memelita as the best in town and I can’t disagree. It was rich and creamy — and to get that with liver, that’s impressive! The tostadas ultimately were just cheese on chips, or what we in the biz like to call: nachos. I love nachos, though, and I love cacio e pepe, so I’d get it again. The KC spare ribs didn’t really fit the Mexican menu, but they fit in my stomach just fine.
For our third course, my dealer Jeremy hyped us for the “taco onslaught.” We got short rib tacos, veggie tacos, barbacoa tacos, and two non-taco things: elote and chochoyotes. When elote is on the menu, always order double. This was served off the cob, and I ate it by the spoonful. We ordered the chochoyotes 100% because it was fun to say (and that oxygen was starting to kick in…), but would order again. I won’t even spoil the surprise. Just find Jeremy and ask him for an eighth of that kind chocho — he’ll know. The short rib tacos were a special, giving the same meat as their $50 bone-in menu item for a quarter of the price! It narrowly missed out to the lobster as dish of the night. It came with the best mole I’ve had outside of Mexico City, and some fresh jalapeños on top added a brilliant fresh kick to the richness of the meat and mole. The veg taco I thought was, to use FDC jargon for our true fans out there, intriguing. Jeremy said the kitchen wants to keep the ingredients seasonal, which meant that at the end of November it was a lot of kale and some radishes, with a sprinkling of cheese. It made for a weird taco, but I actually enjoyed the flavor, and the greens were worked enough that it didn’t feel like I was chomping through a salad the whole time. Balanced against the other heavy, meaty dishes on the table, I needed that brightness change-up.
More than the lobster or the short rib, those tortillas stole the show. All corn, no flour, scratch-made, they tasted great and held up — one per taco, not a single one broke from the weight of its ingredients or the bites of its human. It was a marvel in engineering and worth the visit for those alone.
Finally, I promised drink reviews and in a word: disappointing. The drinks, more than the food, have gotten so much hype, that we were all so hyped for them. I love Martina’s drinks — the Old Fashioned is one of the best I’ve ever had — so maybe my expectations were high, but the booze did not deliver. Having read those articles linked above, I’m sure that a ton of work goes into each creation, but the front end tasted… dull? My bro Jeremy billed the Mura Masa as a concentrated Old Fashioned, but it failed to bring the punch of even a normal Old Fashioned. Super drinkable, but in the way that hotel lobby water is drinkable. I’m not thinking “this is good.” I’m thinking, “this is here.” The Puerto Rican Heartbreaker at least brought it. Rose, as Handshake Hollywood will tell you, must be used judiciously, and it was. Colita’s margarita, the Naked Dani, famous for its bath-simulating salt foam and rubber ducky prop was my favorite drink of the night, but that’s not saying much. Matt liked Laundry Cake and Serial Killers, which Jeremy, in just classic Jeremy fashion, described as: Cinnamon Toast Crunch with cucumber. (He was right.) Each drink is its own cool concept, innovative and inventive, but next time I’ll stick to their also impressive wine/beer list. Overall, this was a great meal. Super hyped. I loved some things and very much liked most others. I will be back, I’m just not sure how quickly.