Calling Red Lulu Cocina & Tequila Bar a sensory explosion is an understatement. In fact, as soon as you walk into their mammoth doors you’re hit with the first two sensory explosions: sight and sound. Ok, not just hit, but more like “You got knocked the f@$k out” like Smokey says to Teebo in Friday. Let’s take them one at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed with the awesomeness.
Wow. No, wow doesn’t even sum it up. This place is freakin’ ridiculous. Dare I say the coolest looking restaurant in Fairfield County? Yes I dare. It starts with the rich, red, velvety, damask wall paper, then moves over to the gorgeous variety of antique/crystal/iron/goth chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, over to the swanky lounge and bar area bustling with trendy locals enjoying concoctions from their fabulous drink menu, along to the cross-shaped mirrored table in the middle of the restaurant next to a giant brick wall showcasing an eclectic variety of movies, ending with the plush, red, velvet seats nestled in cute little dining nooks for a little privacy among friends. Absolutely stunning… sexy even, rarrrr.
As busy as this place gets, you would expect it to be incredibly noisy. Luckily, the acoustics are excellent (must be all the velvety goodness soaking it up). Instead, all you really hear is fun and energetic music loudly (but not annoyingly) playing throughout the space. And although we’ve not been to Red LuLu late at night or for a special party, I hear the musical entertainment can get quite intense!
But enough about all that, what about the foooood?! Here we move onto the two very interconnected senses:
Taste and Smell (with a twist of sight)
Once we were seated up on the wrought iron surrounded balcony overlooking the gorgeous cross table, we were greeted by our friendly waiter carrying a complimentary stainless steel bowl of steaming granita, to which he offered a splash of tequila to accompany it. Of course, we obliged! What a refreshing way to clear the palette for what was to be an amazing meal.
Then, we were presented with another complimentary dish of wonderfulness–a HUGE bowl of warm chips and a plethora of sauces and salsas for them to bathe in, including a spicy chipotle cream sauce, a fantastic spicy, sweet habanero mango sauce, an acidic and flavorful green tomatillo, and a nice, smokey roasted tomato salsa. And, to complement this variety of delish, we added one of their three guacamoles–the picante guacamole, with hell’s chile oil and fresh, hot green chiles. Not as spicy as we hoped, but still yummy! Yeah, and we totally couldn’t help ourselves from eating the entire bowl of chips with all of this! Oops.
Next up, drinks! What we thought was going to be an easy decision (margaritas, DUH), was anything but easy. With over 100 tequila choices (who the heck knew there were even over 100 tequilas on the market?), three sangria choices (including a rose, which you NEVER see), a wide variety of beers, and creative variations of margaritas, we weren’t sure where to start! We finally landed on the Red Lulu margarita for myself, an absolutely PERFECT mix of Sauza Hornitos, Patron Citronge, fresh lime, infused imperial cranberry cane syrup, and unsweetened crushed cranberry, and the Diablo for Danny, a harmonious blend of Lanazul Reposado, Luxardo Triplum, serrano chile, blood orange, and fresh pineapple, and strawberries.
Moving on, we have appetizers. As usual, stuck between about 10 different dishes, we picked the tres ceviches. As lovers of all things ceviche, how could we refuse a sampling of three different kids? Our absolute favorite of the three was the sangrita, a glorious combo of shrimp, scallops, tomato, fresh orange, hot sauce, and avocado. OMG. Second favorite was the traditional blend, consisting of grouper, fresh lime juice, serrano chile, and red onion. Very fresh and light. Although Danny thoroughly enjoyed the last one, called coco, the jury’s still out for me. The coco ceviche started with nice, fresh ahi tuna, drowning in coconut milk, a splash of fresh lime, cilantro leaves, and jalapeno. While I absolutely LOVE coconut, I feel like the coconut milk was just too heavy for a ceviche. It wasn’t bad by any means, but perhaps if they were lighter on the coconut milk and heavier on the lime, it would’ve been the perfect mix.
Now for course 2 (technically 4 if you count the granitas and chips, man we can eat), the main course! Danny had the carne asada, a grilled, marinated skirt steak (one of my faves) with flour tortillas, salsa roja, grilled red onions, and jalapenos. Holy hell, it was AMAZING (yes, of course I tasted it too)! The steak was perfectly cooked medium rare, which can be a challenge for thin skirt steak. The red onions were slightly spicy with just the perfect amount of vinegar to give it a nice, fresh acidity. And it even came with surprise, nicely seasoned french fries, like we needed that! Next time we go, I’m SO ordering that! And for me, I had the carne de vaca enchiladas from the appetizer menu, which was so huge it was anything but an appetizer. These unique and rich enchiladas consisted of slow-cooked short ribs, Negro Modello red chile sauce, and tobacco onions. While the ribs were cooked to perfection, soft, not tough or stringy at all, I would probably not get this dish again only because the Negro Modello sauce was just too rich, sweet, and overpowering for me. Though I think this is purely a taste thing, and no reflection of the quality of the dish… just look how amazing it looks in that picture. Puuurdy!
And last, but so very, very not least was dessert. Holy crap, where did we fit it? We indulged in the buenos noches, a warm, deep chocolate, espresso bread pudding (my favorite dessert of all time), topped with coffee ice cream, brown sugar caramel and hot fudge sauce. Oh wow, wow, wow, it was fantasical!
Then, just when you thought we were done, they bestow upon us the last of three complimentary dishes, a heaping serving of green apple cotton candy! How can you not fall absolutely in love with a place that ends every meal with a pile of sugary whimsy? You simply cannot, so at 4.25 noms, go here now, and go here often because it is more than a pleasure to all your senses.
Red Lulu Cocina and Tequila Bar
Address: 128 Washington Street
Norwalk, CT 06854
Phone: (203) 939 – 1600
Note: Reservations not accepted for parties under 6. Usually a long wait after 7:00PM, so go early if you can’t wait 45 mins +