Michigan’s Best Local Dishes: Cook with Heart at Lolita’s Tacos in Kalamazoo
KALAMAZOO, MI – It’s been five years since Enrique Aguilera opened Lolita’s Tacos at the corner of Humphrey and E. Main streets in Kalamazoo with his wife Dolores.
Although the menu has changed slightly since they first opened, one thing has remained the same.
“People really love tacos,” Aguilera said.
Customers can order them Mexican style with cilantro and grilled onions or American style with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream. They can choose between a range of meats ranging from picadillo (beef, potatoes and carrots) to pollo (chicken), chorizo (spicy pork sausage) and lengua (beef tongue) or pescado (fish). , with poblano peppers or mushrooms. And they can select white corn, yellow corn, or flour tortillas.
But by far the most popular, according to Aguilera, 60, are tacos asada (steak) and Al Pastor (marinated pork) made Mexican style and served with a lime.
The secret to his tacos, he says? A word. Heart.
“I don’t have any seasoning secrets,” he said. “I do everything with my heart. I am always in a good mood when I cook. I’m never in a bad mood.
Aguilera said flavor is important, as is preparation, but he treats all of his customers the same and gives them all equal portions at a good price. And you can’t make good, consistent tacos for everyone if you don’t care what you cook for each one and put your heart into it, he said.
Add to that, the size of the tacos.
“I don’t want to say anything bad about another place, but no one in Kalamazoo uses the big shell tortillas like we do,” he said with a smile.
Everything served at Lolita is prepared by Enrique and Dolores Aguilera.
Both have spent their lives cooking, but despite growing up in western Mexico, in the state of Michoacán, Enrique Aguilera said it wasn’t until the couple both worked in El Gallo Blanco, now closed, in Portage, that he began to cook Mexican dishes.
Prior to that, he worked in Chicago at Portillo’s and, after moving to Michigan at Pop’s Italian Beef and Sausage adjacent to the Western Michigan University campus.
But since Mexico City-born Dolores Aguilera started teaching her how to cook tamales, enchiladas and more at home, he hasn’t left her by his side in the kitchen.
The couple, who met in Kalamazoo about 15 years ago, are at home in the Eastside and live just one block from Lolita’s house.
“When we first moved here, everyone was talking about bad neighbors,” he said. “I never saw anything wrong, ever. We talk to everyone. Everyone talks to us. We really like the neighborhood.
Located at 2307 E. Main St., Lolita’s offers in-house and take-out dining, Lolita’s is open 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, and 10:00 a.m. at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday. For more information or to view a full menu, visit www.facebook.com/lolitastacos. The restaurant can also be reached at (269) 532-1473.
Also on MLive:
Michigan’s Best Local Dishes: Bone Yard Café Serves “A Little Texas, A Little Kalamazoo” On Its BBQ
Michigan has the most freshwater dunes on the planet. How did it happen?
Don’t Miss the Peak Fall Color: When to Expect Michigan’s Best Color in 2021