Lokos Takos bright­ens Mex­i­can scene

Fresh, col­or­ful, vi­brant food a wel­come ad­di­tion

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - Broward - - DINING - By Michael Mayo

The Mex­i­can food land­scape in Greater Fort Laud­erdale can be best de­scribed as dis­ap­point­ing and dreary, but new­comer Lokos Takos Ta­que­ria brings a wel­come splash of color and fla­vor.

Bright art­work adorns the walls and the open-faced tacos — with fresh in­gre­di­ents lay­ered on can­vases of soft, mul­ti­hued, corn tor­tillas — perk up palates. Vi­brant sauces are served in shot glasses on the side. The pi­quant, green tomatillo and lus­cious, red to­mato-ar­bol sauces were so good, I downed the stuff I didn’t pour onto my tacos as if they were shots of Pa­tron.

Un­for­tu­nately for tequila lovers, no ac­tual hard stuff will be found in the shot glasses here. Be­cause this is a small (36 seats) and new restau­rant, the own­ers do not have a liquor li­cense and only of­fer beer, wine, san­gria, micheladas (beer spiked with lime juice and spices) and “mar­gar­i­tas” made from high-al­co­hol wine. Savvy vis­i­tors will re­al­ize that these mock mar­gar­i­tas ($10 reg­u­lar, $12 for a spe­cial ver­sion gar­nished with hon­ey­dew and pro­sciutto) are low-oc­tane, but the in­gre­di­ents were not read­ily an­nounced or listed. This was one of my few quib­bles about the place. For­tu­nately, the red san­gria ($10) was tasty, fruit bits ap­pro­pri­ately bob­bing.

Lokos Takos opened in July in a Fort Laud­erdale strip mall on East Com­mer­cial Boule­vard, near Bayview Drive and the Coral Ridge neigh­bor­hood. Own­ers Carlos and An­nie Pombo made a bold choice with the lo­ca­tion — smack dab next to Ed­uardo de San An­gel, chef Ed­uardo Pria’s up­scale in­sti­tu­tion known for re­fined Mex­i­can in­gre­di­ents fused with Euro­pean and Asian tech­niques.

Lokos Takos is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent an­i­mal, a cozy ta­que­ria with pop­u­lar fa­vorites such as bur­ri­tos, que­sadil­las and rice bowls. The restau­rant fills a des­per­ate need, a nice place to get a rea­son­able and sat­is­fy­ing Mex­i­can meal that is a step up from no-frills taco stands and hid­den kitchens in Latin con­ve­nience stores. The fo­cus here is on food, not loud par­ty­ing, un­like some Mex­i­can meet mar­kets on Las Olas Boule­vard and touristy ho­tel restau­rants on the beach. Ser­vice is friendly, help­ful and at­ten­tive, and the am­bi­tions here are not too steep, which is a good thing.

Some may find the taco prices a bit steep, par­tic­u­larly those peo­ple used to pay­ing $2 or $3 apiece at bode­gas or food trucks. The tacos at Lokos Takos cost $5 to $8 each, with ba­sic chicken, beef and pork at the low end and oc­to­pus ($7) and lob­ster ($8) at the high end. The restau­rant also of­fers ve­gan op­tions that use mush­rooms and other veg­eta­bles. My sug­ges­tion for the house to make cus­tomers feel bet­ter about value: of­fer a combo plate with three tacos and a side dish in the $12-$15 range, a for­mula that seems to work at some pop­u­lar re­gional chains.

I made two vis­its to Lokos Takos in re­cent weeks, first com­ing for lunch alone on a quiet af­ter­noon. The car­ni­tas taco ($5) was im­pec­ca­ble, well-sea­soned shreds of roasted pork tossed with cilantro, caramelized onion and shards of pur­ple cab­bage on a white corn tor­tilla that tasted as if had just come off the co­mal. The fish taco ($5) was al­most as good, with chunks of grilled mahi mahi served with cit­rus slaw, mango corn, honey ha­banero and sliced av­o­cado. I didn’t love the bluecorn tor­tilla, with a heav­ier tex­ture and fla­vor that didn’t meld with the fish.

Ev­ery­one around me seemed to be gush­ing over their plates,

Lokos Takos Ta­que­ria in Fort Laud­erdale of­fers a va­ri­ety dishes served on brightly painted ta­bles.

PHO­TOS BY MIKE STOCKER/SUN SEN­TINEL

The Lokos Guak is made with hand-mashed nat­u­ral Hass av­o­cado and blue corn, red onion and mild jalapeno.

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