And few (save for early fans of Audrey Claire) knew of chef Marcie Turney, let alone her partner and front-of-the-house ace, Valerie Safran.
A decade later, they are Vale Mar - the undisputed taste queens of the neighborhood many call Midtown Village, with a half-dozen diverse restaurants and businesses on 13th Street and another to serve classic American food (Bud & Marilyn's) on tap for the southeast corner at Locust Street by the end of this year.
But few places illuminate so many changing aspects of our dining world as Lolita, where the spinning "trompo" spit stacked high with a cone of chile-spiced pork is only one of many fresh new details that intrigue me about its renovation.
Just think: When this 50-seat Nuevo Mexicano bistro first opened in 2004 with its pretty salmon tostaditas and virgin margarita mixers, the city's stylish new BYOB revolution was just coming into full bloom.
There are a few more threads of genuine Mexican flavors that run through the menu of Lolita 2.0, especially with the fresh masa rounds that come off the hand-cranked tortilla press.
I do not necessarily prefer this Lolita to many of the affordable taquerias that have sprouted like epazote along Ninth Street south of Washington Avenue.There also are a few items where the ethnic flavors are so blurred - like the succulent grilled head-on shrimp, the cuminy lamb tacos with goat yogurt, or the tender grilled octopus - that they'd be equally at home at Turney's Spanish Jamonera or Italian-ish Barbuzzo nearby. Just a few Mexican cues are enough to make a dish feel right here, from the poblano peppers that warm a pistachio puree beneath the refreshing watermelon-beet salad, to the serrano chiles and oozy Oaxaca cheese that spark the crispy ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms over multicolored salsas of poblano, tomato, and tomatillo.The chicharrones (also known as "pig popcorn" next door at Barbuzzo) are convincing enough with a little smoke and a spicy habanero dip to devour with a noisy crunch.well none of it is to my tastes, and it does seem to have paedo undertones, but to convict a guy for watching a cartoon that actually has mainstream appeal and can be made and viewed with immunity in Japan? He had tens of thousands of books, and some of them had lolicon in them, despite being a complete minority in a collection that was massive and incredibly eclectic.That sort of action begins to make us look as closed-minded and knee-jerk as the radical Muslim groups that imprison women behind burkahs and shoot girls for going to school. He still got a long time in jail, even without any prior convictions.Developer Tony Goldman's vision was in its infancy for 13th Street, which was still a seedy red-light district.Philly's Mexican immigrant community was only just starting to take root and give us a taste of true taqueria cooking.We miss the carefree days of the Olson twins, K Fed and Brittney, and Lindsey Lohan.Ten years in the life of a restaurant is one of the best ways to mark the evolution of a city.I’m a content creator in Brooklyn but I wish I was living in the fictional town of Riverdale as Archie’s secret boyfriend.I have a lot of thoughts about the show, so I thought I’d share them with you here.