It's been awhile since I last played Loteria, and I have to say, I forgot how popular the game is. Viva Villa Taqueria has been hosting a Wednesday Loteria Night for the past couple of months, (the first being in May).
If you plan on going to Loteria Night, get there early for three reasons. Parking around the market area is sparse, especially if you are looking for free parking, (which is available on the streets after 6). Otherwise the restaurant does have parking starting at $2 per hour. Happy hour specials run 5 to 7 p.m. with discounts on margaritas, cerveza, wine, along with select appetizers and street taco plates. Reason No. 3, Viva Villa gets pretty packed and cards and tables can be hard to find.
That’s what happened to me when I first arrived at 7. There was no space inside at the restaurant and all the loteria cards had been passed out. However management was very accommodating and they went out of their way to go and purchase more loteria cards and even set up extra tables for me and another couple that wanted to play the game.
Ecstatic that even though I was late, I would be able to participate, I ordered some food: the chicken Adelita taco, guacamole and a margarita. The food here is spot on. Both of the food items I had ordered were delicious, the margarita was good, and they had a plenty of options to choose from. Though I decided to forgo one of their most popular items this time, I've been told that the Big Red Soft Serve at this place is a must-have. And if you’re really a fan of the vanilla-laced crimson favorite, order the Big Red float with Big Red Soft serve and Big Red — what’s better than that?
Though loteria technically starts at 7, the game doesn’t start going until 7:30. The community that you witness at the event is really astounding: families, friends, young, old, all varieties of people came together in this small restaurant to enjoy the game. The manager on duty would call out the cards, and patrons in the store would laugh with one another and have a good time, whether they knew each other before the event or not.
People do get a bit competitive, and of course, there are prizes to be won. The prizes vary from round to round, but for the most part they consisted of margaritas on the house, free pan dulce (for those under 21), and Viva Villa swag.
Whether you’re familiar with the game or it’s your first time, Viva Villa serves as a swell venue to take in a marg, win some prizes and most importantly, bragging rights. Just remember to make it down there before 7 p.m.
Viva Villa Taqueria, 905 Dolorosa St., (210) 987-8482; Loteria Night runs 7 to 9 p.m. every Wednesday.