Lokos Takos brightens Mexican scene
Fresh, colorful, vibrant food a welcome addition
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.
The Lokos Guak is made with hand-mashed natural Hass avocado and blue corn, red onion and mild jalapeno.