Though it’s only been open since August 2, Lobo Loco – whose catchphrase is a succinct “Fiesta. Siesta. Repeat.” — appears already to be a neighborhood hot spot.
The lively restaurant, which bills itself as a Mexican cantina, offers sprightly south-of-the-border style fare and drinks galore in an engaging, colorful space wrapped in sherbet colors that immediately makes diners feel at home.
And, that’s exactly what co-owner Mario Abitino (who owns the restaurant with brothers Sal and Domenico) wants.
“We wanted to make it a fun place for the people in the neighborhood, where they can come with their families, more than once a week,” Abitino explained.
The large space – which the brothers converted from its prior incarnation as an Italian restaurant, first Vicolo and then Zitelli’s – has had a thorough re-do, and the combination of eye-catching décor and palate-pleasing food appears already to be catching on.
“We’ve been doing really well,” said Abitino. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the neighborhood, and weekends have been crazy. We open for dinner at 5 p.m. on Saturday, and at 4:30 we already had a line. We just want people to come here, have a good time and feel like they’re home.”
We sampled several of the eatery’s specialties, and enjoyed everything we tasted.
We kicked off our meal with the Lobo’s Sampler ($14.99) – which came out of the kitchen piled high with creamy, crab-inflected Empanaditas, brightly flavored Guacamole (a scoop of which accompanies many of the main dishes, as well), melty Chicken Quesadilla wedges, delicately spicy wings and crispy little Flautas Dorados filled with chicken and jack cheese and sprinkled with queso fresco, literally a meal in itself.
For one main dish, we tried Lobo Loco’s reasonably priced taco plate ($10.99), which included three either hard or soft-shell tacos stuffed with a selection of five different fillings, topped not only with the expected onions and cilantro but also tender little cubes of nopales, a vegetable that is actually the pad of the prickly pear cactus. We were particularly taken with the spicy but not too hot chorizo tacos and the tacos filled with flavorful pork shreds.
We also tried the Lobo Supreme Fajitas ($19.99), combining shrimp, steak and chicken, and which came to the table sizzling on a skillet along with strips of sautéed pepper and onion, and accompanied by a platter of rice, refried beans, pico de gallo and glorious guac.
While we really didn’t have room for dessert, we felt compelled to try the Choco Taco ($6.99), a taco shell filled with chocolate ice cream and whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce, which was a perfect finishing touch on a hot summer evening.
8530 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Dinner, daily, from 4-11 p.m., with bar open till 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and a DJ after 9 p.m. on those days
Brunch, Saturday & Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.