The path to serving booze downtown is especially tricky these days — even for a restaurant, like Lola, with a long, respected track record. The haute southern favorite was sitting pretty for almost two decades on 22nd Street, with two stars from the Times and a loyal clientele, but the usual cadre of community activists opposed granting the place a liquor license when the owners found a new space in Soho. Two years later, they've won the right to pour freely. The new Lola will open in early February with emotional Top Chef season-one finalist (and breakout star) Dave Martin as its chef. It remains to be seen whether Martin will collapse into one of his trademark breakdowns; perhaps Top Chef fans can request one when they make reservations.
Lola, 15 Watts St., nr. Thompson St.; 212-675-6700.