A Taste of Tex-Mex Flavor
How this location has stayed hidden and unoccupied for so long, I have no idea, but Lucky Lopez has an apt name in managing to find such a great plot.
Hidden in a courtyard just behind Nearby the Tree in Sanlitun, Lucky Lopez has actually been around since 2010, with their first location in Jianwai SOHO in the CBD. Initially a burrito spot, they have expanded their menu for this new location and you’ll find all the comfort staples of Mexican-American cuisine.
Having the pleasure to sit down and chat with Lucky Lopez’s Executive Chef and Managing Partner June Chow, it really gave our dining experience a whole new meaning and appreciation for what June and her brother Schubert Chow have created. While June and Schubert grew up in the northeast – New Jersey/New York area with a family background of restauranteurs, June moved to Dallas about 20 years ago. She made her way to Beijing to satisfy Schubert’s cravings for quality Mexican food and this began their mission to bring Dallas-inspired Tex-Mex to Beijing.
“I am self taught and learn from my family, friends and great home cooks. I like to take liberties with recipes (aka, never follow them to the T) and operate on the notion that you find a great platform of ingredients and build ideas from it.
Lucky Lopez is our concept that was developed with this exact idea in mind. My move to Texas opened my totally ignorant eyes to a whole new experience; really simple, basic combinations of meats, veg and salsas and all available to eat with or on a tortilla. Tortillas are to the Mexicans what rice is to the Chinese; the varieties and uses are endless. My love for FRESH HOMEMADE tortillas is the backbone of Lucky Lopez in Beijing. The centerpiece of Lucky Lopez is in the kitchen – a big specialized oven imported from the US which we use to make flour tortillas daily.” – June Chow, Executive Chef & Managing Partner of Lucky Lopez
LDS Snapshots of Lucky Lopez:
Plenty of Outdoor Seating Space
Lucky Lopez’s Playful Graffiti Wall
Much like Avocado Tree, Lucky Lopez’s menu is a boon for customers who like choice. Tacos, burritos, salads and bowls can all be filled with the ingredients of your choosing with all the usual suspects available, guacamole, corn, salsa etc and a good selection of spicy sauces that they make in house with imported chilis. We were particularly impressed by their homemade tortillas which were super soft and satisfying. No wonder June takes so much pride in making them fresh daily!
It’s also worth noting that they’ve expanded their initial offerings beyond the Chipotle line-up of fillings to a more comprehensive menu.
“The Chipotle/Subway service model was the perfect delivery system to both introduce and allow customization right in front of the customer’s eyes. We based our original spot in Jianwai Soho for this reason. Chipotle was revolutionary in mainstreaming the Tex-Mex burrito in the US. They do a fine job with the fresh ingredients, sticking to their core food groups. We emulate their business model but veer off with a greater expansion in our flavor profile and offerings.
Our move to this Sanlitun location really presents our ideal Lucky Lopez dining experience. We’ve slowed the ‘fast casual’ dining pace down even more. We want a place where people can come get really fresh, homemade food, enjoy the lounge setting, get some work done, get away from the hustle bustle of the Sanlitun, meet with friends, have a drink, go on their first date, the list is endless. We are American owned and the experience that I bring here is what I enjoy in the US. I think people will appreciate the subtle difference in service and a dining experience that may not be as common in China.” – June Chow
Goodies to Fill Your Tacos, Burritos & Bowls
Drinks wise, the frozen mango margarita was a winner in the heat of the summer night. I know that this won’t be the case in -10 later in the year, but I am trying to put those dark thoughts out of my head and ignore the return of the cold as long as possible! Their Horchada (a traditional Mexican milk-based drink with a touch of cinnamon) is a great option if you need your mouth cooled after too much hot sauce.
The dish that really stood out was the “4 Amigos” platter which really showcases the quality of their ingredients – tamales, chicken wings, chorizo and spicy chili with tortilla crisps to wipe the platter clean. The chorizo is particularly good with a lovely spicy/sweet tang to it and the homemade chili is slow-cooked, simmered in their own spice mixture, using all fresh ingredients.
LDS Snapshots of Lucky Lopez’s Dishes:
Mango Margarita + Horchada (RMB 12)
Guacamole + Chips (RMB 25)
Four Amigos Platter
Crispy Fish Fillet Salad (RMB 28)
Pork Carnitas Tacos (RMB 28)
The courtyard is a great setting and the outdoor seating is perfect for the last few warm weeks of summer to go and eat lunch. There’s a lot of attention to detail that is put into the food with June regaling us tales of how she uses American corn husks to make the tamales rather than the Chinese variety which apparently are not wide enough!
“I did touch upon the fact that on top of the fact that I have a very generous commute time to work from Dallas, I am also the business mule or Sherpa, like some 15th century spice merchant traveling the Silk Road. Yes, while it appears to be inefficient to be lugging my core precious seasonings each time I come to Beijing, it seems to be necessary so far.” – June Chow on muling ingredients for Lucky Lopez
There will inevitably be comparisons with Avocado Tree, but also with Taco Bar, Q Mex and Cantina Agave. Personally, I find that each place does certain dishes well and that each one has a very different atmosphere. I’d encourage you to check out Lucky Lopez knowing how much care and thought has gone into every marinade, every ingredient and every recipe.
Stay tuned for news on another location in the works in Haidian’s Zhongguancun and in the meantime, come to get your Tex Mex Feast on at next weekend’s BJ FOoDiEs charity dinner fiesta.
If you’re a fellow foodie and keen to come and try out this new Lucky Lopez branch, you can sign up for the upcoming BJ FOoDiEs charity dinner event on Sunday, September 25th (also organized by yours truly). From 7:30-9:30PM, this entourage of die-hard foodies are always up for new dining adventures and keen to support community events around town.
Ready to pull out all the stops with this very generous menu, Lucky Lopez is showcasing some of the signature dishes that they are most proud of.
With limited seating, I’d recommend booking your seats as quickly as possible as all seating is now only confirmed by WeChat Transfer (add ID: LumDimSum). After last month’s BJ FOoDiEs dinner at the newly renovated La Dolce Vita restaurant in Sanlitun booked out after just a few days, this Tex-Mex Fiesta is sure to book out just as quickly so HURRYYYYYYY!
Lucky Lopez’s Tex-Mex Fiesta Menu:
Chips with Homemade Picante, Guacamole & Queso
Shrimp Taco Salad
Chorizo & Potato Quesadillas
Mixed Tacos Platter (2 per person)
Baja Crispy Fish, Grilled Chicken, Al Pastor Pork, Beef
Seasoned Veggie Noodle Nest
RMB 100/head includes Set Dinner Menu + 1 Drink (Beer, Sangria, Frozen Margarita or Horchata)
“Indulge for a Cause”
So for RMB 100, you’ll be treated to a meal at more than half what you’d normally pay, which is a pretty incredible deal – hats off to Chef June & her brother Schubert for the very generous meal! This month’s sponsored organization will be the , with 100% of all funds raised being donated to
Lucky Lopez’s Contact Details:
Address: Head North Down the Hutong that is just west of Nearby the Tree, Sanlitun Nan Jia 34 Yuan, Chaoyang District
Tel: 010 6466 0302 and 010 6466 0320