Restaurant Review: Tequila Mexican Restaurant & Cantina | Dine out

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Given the name, I expected Tequila Mexican Restaurant & Cantina to have good margaritas. And he did, but more on that later.

What I was most looking forward to finding out about this relatively new restaurant in Covington Plaza was whether the food would be as good as the cocktails. There are many excellent Mexican restaurants in this area with authentic and flavorful cuisine, but many offer margaritas that are unremarkable or often not at all. And there are places with memorable margaritas but food so mediocre it’s hard to convince me to go even though I love the drinks.

Well, the tequila curbed my appetite and quenched my thirst.

The menu was a magical mix of authentic taqueria-worthy fare, super-trendy offerings, and basic Tex-Mex treats. And I knew I was in the right place from the first sip of my fresh pineapple margarita and my first taste of the freshly made guacamole.

The person running the guac cart did a fantastic job and asked all the right questions. He not only asked me if I wanted jalapenos like most places do, I was also asked if tomatoes, onions and cilantro could be added. If that wasn’t enough, like a sommelier would do with a tastevine, he would pour some of the finished product into a plastic cup for me to taste and approve before serving.

It was delicious, and I loved that I could have the bonus of crouton-sized chicharonnes sprinkled on top. The only thing I asked for after the tasting was a little more salt as the thin crispy Tequila fries were slightly salty. These fries looked fresh and were refilled quickly throughout my visits which was a good thing as the house Tequila salsa was also excellent. It had the perfect consistency and just a tingle of warmth.

My Chicken Tinga Empanadas appetizer did not disappoint. They were crispy and a little thin, with just enough flavor in their masa exterior. They were profusely stuffed with meat and well-seasoned chipotle cheese, and I loved the avocado cream sauce served with them.

The best main course was the one I never thought I’d like and never really liked anywhere else.

Arroz con Queso is offered with grilled chicken or steak. The meats are combined with the homemade rice, and everything is tossed with creamy, melted queso cheese. At Tequila, my beef version featured a thinly sliced ​​steak, much like a Philly Cheesesteak or Italian beef sandwich, instead of the pre-cooked – and therefore overcooked – fajita beef strips that most places use.

Tequila also served me the best beef version of the trending Birria – a slow-simmered meat (traditionally goat) served in various forms with a pot of consome made from its drippings. The meat in my Birria Quesadilla was plentiful and there was just the right amount of stringy melted cottage cheese to go with it. The super thin tortilla that held it was very crispy and the grilled onions inside were just cooked enough that they still had some texture. And the consome was good enough to drink.

Another dish, the Huarache, which has moved from the realm of the taqueria to the menus of more and more Mexican restaurants, also had delicious stewed meat, but the dish overall didn’t quite live up to it. the quesadilla.

I chose Cochinita Pibil – a slow-roasted Mayan pork – as my meat choice. Steak or grilled chicken, chicken tinga and al pastor are also offered. This new preparation was tender and succulent, with a nice smoky flavor. I loved the meat, but the Huarache’s fried masa base was pretty thin and lacked the chewy, almost creamy texture I love.

The dish also needed a twist, as that delicious stewed meat was fighting to be noticed over all the other ingredients – refried beans, tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo, queso fresco and a fried egg. I loved the addition of the egg, but the salsa and gravy kept its yolk from being really noticeable.

Orange Chicken Guajillo street tacos had a sassy problem, but only if you added the salsa they were served with. It wasn’t orange chicken like in a Chinese restaurant; it’s chicken breast marinated with Guajillo peppers and orange juice. The pulled chicken was bursting with flavor and it was very tender.

Everything was fine until I drizzled some roasted tomatillo salsa. I should have known, since it was more brown than green, that this salsa was going to be hot, but it was insanely hot. It was so hot, it made me angry that the menu didn’t warn me. I asked for regular tomatillo salsa, which my server happily got back after he recognized that the roasted tomatillo was still too hot for him. It was better, but even it was way hotter than the normal tomatillo salsa.

As I turned my attention to Tex-Mex fare, the Seafood Chimichanga could have been excellent if prepared correctly. It was filled with large whole shrimp, crab, and thin tilapia fillets, but it wasn’t well fried, so it might as well have been a burrito.

The most disappointing item I had at Tequila was the one my server complimented me on after ordering it. “It’s a really good choice,” she said.

Well it wasn’t, and given that another waiter who waited for me said the exact same thing after someone in my party ordered, I suspected the first ‘very good’ was not so authentic. Service was excellent on both visits, although their responses may have been scripted.

The bad choice I made was the Poblano Rib Eye with Garlic Shrimp. Garlic prawns were incorporated into many dishes, and these were tossed in a creamy poblano sauce before sitting on top of the steak, which was also topped with chimichurri, Mexican spring onions, parmesan and puffed jalapenos. Ordering a steak at a Mexican restaurant is a gamble, but the mix sounded so good I had to try it.

This greasy steak barely looked like a ribeye. It was too thin and rather tough, and although a well-marbled ribeye is something one usually wants, this steak was way too fatty. The prawns were excellent and I will try them again in a different use.

It would be hard to make a bad choice from the Tequila margarita menu. There were several unique versions, from a seasonal green apple to a rare blueberry, as well as slightly intimidating variations, like the Tamarind-Tajin or the El Diablo with hibiscus-jalapeno syrup. Tequila also offers margarita flights, so sampling those many variations is the way to go.

My bad choices came back to double for dessert. The Tres Leches cake was one of the worst I have ever had. The cake was not well soaked in the three milks and actually turned out dry. It was also doused in chocolate syrup from the bottle, which masked any flavor it might have had.

I was surprised to see the creme brulee. It’s usually reserved for more formal places and I’ve never seen it in a Mexican restaurant. Well, I think I should have chosen the more traditional flan instead, because this creme brulee was served ice cold – its sweet top was burnt off before it was put in the cooler – and its base had broken off, so there were soft bits of curdled egg.

Next time I’ll have a fruity margarita for dessert for sure. And given how much I enjoyed Tequila Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, there will surely be plenty of next times.

Restaurant: Tequila Mexican Restaurant & Canteen

Address: 6328 W.Jefferson Blvd.

Call: 432-7798

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Kitchen: Mexican

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: full bar

Credit card: Yes

Welcomes children: Yes

Menu: Guacamole ($10), Chicken Tinga Empanadas ($9), Seafood Chimichanga ($15), Poblano Rib-eye Garlic Shrimp ($26), Arroz con Queso ($10), Orange Chicken Guajillo Street Tacos ($12), dessert ($5)

Rating distribution: Food: 2 stars (3 stars maximum); atmosphere: one star (1 maximum), service: one star (1 maximum)

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