lopez and the return of michael herschman

Pre arrival of baby #2, I was trying just about everything to go into labor towards the end. Including old wives tale #24: Mexican food. This attempt took us to Lopez in Cleveland Heights, where the kitchen is now under the leadership of chef Michael Herschman.

Herschman is certainly no stranger to the area, or to Cleveland kitchens. He’s worked at his share through the years. And to this day, my favorite Herschman stint is when he owned Mojo (now Lago in Tremont). Oh how I still miss that restaurant. In my opinion, Herschman is one of our most talented chefs and worth the effort to keep tabs on his whereabouts. Which is the very reason why we went back to Lopez after a somewhat lengthy delay between visits.

And apparently we weren’t alone. The place was fairly packed for a Wednesday night. The highly coveted patio was filled, as was most of the bar and several tables inside. And shortly after being seated, we overheard nearby diners confirming our assumption as they talked about being excited that this chef was at Lopez.

Since it’s been awhile since I ate at Lopez, I’m not sure how much influence he’s had on the menu. But I do know there are at least a dozen-ish new items and we ordered a few of those. Including the watermelon and bacon salad with mint, brioche and pickled jalepeno vinaigrette and the smoked cigar app, crispy spring rolls stuffed with gooey gouda, charred corn and black beans. We also ordered the lobster tacos with house bacon and braised brisket enchiladas. And to top off our meal, a spicy beet chocolate truffle with strawberry preserve that the chef sent out.

Well, this dinner did not cause me to go into labor as originally intended. But it did leave quite the impression. Aside from the lobster tacos, which I found to be rather bland, we greatly enjoyed our meal. In fact, now that I’ve had the baby, I’m itching to go back for another helping of that salad and truffle dessert (seriously – bacon and watermelon might just be my new favorite pairing), but this time add a few mojitos. What a perfect summer night that would be!


  1. Posted August 6, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve eyed this restaurant for the past three years. Sounds like it’s time to pay them a visit!

  2. daran
    Posted August 10, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I used to value your opinion but when you say that michael herschman is one of our most talented chefs, I quickly lost respect for your “foodie” status. To be a talented chef you also need to have respect for your kitchen. Arrogance and angry outbursts do not make for a talented kitchen. Regardless of the food flavor chefs that are ridiculously disrespectful to their staffs would never have a place on my go to restaurant list.

  3. susie
    Posted August 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Sounds amazing, and since I live only two blocks away, I have no excuse for not going. And belated congratulations on the new baby!

  4. Posted August 11, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    That sounds awesome. Keep it up

  5. Posted September 9, 2011 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    We had takeout from Lopez last night and really enjoyed it. Our son loved the smoked cigars. We also really liked the trout coated with crunchy pepitas. While Lopez wasn’t bad a year or two ago, the flavors now seem a bit sharper and more defined.

    Good seeing you at the GH Tavern meetup.

  6. JenniferEnnieBrosius
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Used to go to Lopez quite a bit in the mid to late 90’s when I lived in the Heights area. It’s a tiny bit out of our way now, but over the years my husband and I have treated it as a nostalgic “special occasion” spot, getting there a few times a year. It was my favorite “Tex Mex” cuisine spot, and I always recommend it to friends. Went there tonight to celebrate our wedding anniversary (haven’t been there since summer of 2010) and wow, sadly, what a difference. The menu was overcome with dishes that seem to be stressing to try to impress me…lobster everything, needless name dropping (Food Network Michael Symon Favorite!), and the table next to us ordered duck confit (must have been a special b/c I didn’t see it on the menu, but duck confit??). Unlike our last visit to Lopez, we were mostly turned off by the newer menu items, and thought we’d order our “usual” items. So sad. The Queso Fundido was Goat Cheese Fundido. I personally love goat cheese and thought this could be a neat derivative, but the cheese was grainy and bland, and I think some chorizo may have been in the same room at one point. Hubby had the Northern Style Quesadilla and I had Chicken Fajitas with the hot spice rub. The plating and some elements of these dishes have changed around over the years, and every time we found the change refreshing. This time we agreed the plates looked a mess, the flavors ultimately bland, and my chicken was really dry. When we were told who the chef was and that he ran Cena Copa, my husband and I both did a big eye-roll…went there exactly once. Same experience of high price, high ego, bland food. I hate to write this place off. So many good meals, so many good memories. But until I see another staff change, I’ll likely stay away. :-(