Review: Margarita’s

(Yes, I am stealing Kasmira’s formatting. I really liked it!)

So we scrapped the Via Vite idea. I think we were both looking for something low key: we had rough weeks, and we both had pretty busy weeks to look forward to. I also had just finished a reading of “Footwear for the Masses” over at Falcon Theatre (sorry, it closed on Saturday!), so I wasn’t in a fine dining mood. So, after grabbing an American Light (for him) and a diet Coke (for me) at Rock Bottom, we wandered over to Margaritas.

ETA: We went to the Sixth Street location.

We had a bad feeling when we walked in: first, Terry smashed his hand in the door (ow!). After the cursing abated, I commented, “This is a bad sign. The place is empty!’ Friday night and Margaritas had one full table, and I’m pretty sure they knew the staff. The restaurant has at least 20 tables, surrounded by TVs that carry soccer and telenovelas, and a pretty big bar. We got a table in the corner, and hoped that this experience wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.

Margarita’s has won Best Margaritas from both Cincinnati Magazine and Citybeat several years running. They’re a local chain, with locations downtown, Beechmont, and a couple in Kentucky.

My concerns were unfounded: who needs chain Mexican (ETA: i.e. Don Pablo’s, Chevy’s, etc.) when you have this place? First, we ordered margaritas while we pondered whether or not we were staying. Since, on Friday nights, we are generally not into the effort of going to three restaurants in one night, we stayed and were not disappointed. The margaritas (lime only) were 2 for $7. We each got one on the rocks, his lots of salt, mine no salt. They were pretty good! The salsa and chips were good as well: warm, crispy chips and fresh tasting salsa. We added on some guacamole: it was okay, but undersalted, which made it taste a bit bland. Terry’s is better.

We each ordered fajitas. I ordered the fajitas camarones, which were plump shrimp on a bed of grilled vegetables. I had them hold the rice and beans– I never eat them and they’d just go to waste. The flavors were really nice, and the shrimp were cooked very well. There were also tons of just slightly overly browned onions– my very favorite part of fajitas! They were great and I’ll definitely order them again the next time I get a fajita craving.

However, the standout were the fajitas cozumel, which were steak, shrimp, chicken and chorizo with pineapple. Terry couldn’t get over how good it was, and it was! Everything was browned nicely, and the chorizo was spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. Very different from your standard fajitas– I wasn’t sure how the chorizo and the pineapple would go together, forgetting how the sweetness in pineapple is brought out by grilling! Next time, I’ll probably order this instead of stealing bites of Terry’s. Which I’m sure he will appreciate.

We ended up closing the place down (with their blessing), but I was very sad that we were the only customers. You’d think that a place known for margaritas would be more vibrant on a Friday night.
I think that this will become my regular “I need a Margarita, now!” place. My previous favorite place, Su Casa in Tri-County, is just too far for me to drive when I have a craving. Any other recommendations for a good margarita?

Margaritas on Urbanspoon

  • Kelly

    Don’t worry too much about Margarita’s dinnertime emptiness – they’re always hoppin’ when I’m there for lunch.

    I had a pretty great Mexican meal (margarita included) at Jalapeno’s in Kenwood this weekend. I heart carnitas.

  • liberal foodie

    I hate to break your heart but as far as I know, Su casa is closed. Blue agave took its place- don’t bother, it’s not worth the trip. I never went to su casa and read lots about it and am sad I didn’t get to try it before it closed down shop.

  • Julie

    Kelly– Whew. I’m glad the lunch crowd is good!

    Liberal foodie– no!! Oh, man, they had the best stuff. And the desserts! Chef Jaime did some amazing desserts. I am so darn sad.

  • Dan

    I have always like Margarita’s. And yes, lunch is packed – both the location on 6th and at Tower Place. In fact one time so crowded (Tower Place) we (and there was only two of us) waited an hour to get our food. Needless to say it ended up being free but it has been an isolated incident at least for us. Food I have always thought was pretty good. I prefer to go there than spend more money at Catus Pear. (Even though I thought the food was good there as well. Margarita’s is just cheaper.)

  • Julie

    Dan– the prices were great. $13.99 for the shrimp and $14.99 for the shrimp/chicken/steak/chorizo combo. And 2 for $7 margaritas? Can’t beat it!

  • Cin Twin1

    I have a 2-1 dinner coupon at Margarita’s, it is across the street from me, and STILL I have only been one time. I now know what to order.

    One time Palomino’s ran out of mojitos(how could they!) and I ordered a margarita. It was pretty tasty!

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure which Margarita’s you visited, but the Tower Place location (which is closest to my home) keeps such inconsistent evening and weekend hours that I don’t depend on it and choose other places nearby.

  • Julie

    Anonymous, we went to the 6th Street location.

  • Chris S

    Eh, I think I’ll just pay extra for my marg at Nada ;)

    Seriously though, I do stop by the 4th street location round lunch time from time to time, but its rare for me to crave mexican of any kind over the winter.

  • Julie

    Chris, I’m the same way, but Terry craves margaritas. We’re trying Nada’s tomorrow!

  • Cin Twin1

    Hey! I just noticed that Cumin was added to Opentable. I have not been yet, but this gives me a reason to go. Now I am only about 1000 points away from a $20 gift certificate.

  • Julie

    I’ve been to Cumin once, and I wasn’t thrilled– overpriced and not really “fusion” but “Americanized”.

    If you want those extra 1000 points quickly, many restaurants offer them at certain times. I got 1000 for my Charlie Palmer reservation, and would have for Via Vite.

  • Anonymous

    um, margarita’s is “chain mexican” — http://www.margaritasmex.com/ — they are all over cincy/norther kentucky. i agree that they have wonderful food :) if you want something closer to authentic mexicano, try el coyote over in anderson. they serve up an excellent sangria!

  • Julie

    As I’ve mentioned earlier, Anonymous, I’m OK with local chains. Though you won’t see me reviewing La Rosa’s anytime soon! Thanks for the recommendation for El Coyote– I wonder if they’ll fill the void left in my heart by Su Casa! :)

  • Jaime

    El Coyote used to be great but the last time I ate there, about a year ago, I was very disappointed. It was nothing like it used to be. I love Cactus Pear, I have tried Margaritas a few times and have always found it to be very average.

  • vudutu

    I tried Margaritas once and was not impressed, because of your good review I will give then one more chance. When they first opened I loved El Coyote, I gave up on them about 6 years ago after a really bad dining experience there, never went back. Never got to Su Casa, where were they? Still seeking real Mex in the Nati. Oddly enough never been to Cumin, we know some folks there and should have, need to cue that up.

  • Julie

    Vudutu, Su Casa was in the same strip mall as Borders in Tri County. I couldn’t tell you the last time I wen to Tri County, thus not knowing Su Casa had closed!

    Cumin is Indian, so don’t go there expecting Mexican. I also find it to be sort of bland and very Americanized; I’d much rather go to Ambar.

    As far as other mexican restaurants– I’m all about supporting the indie restaurants, but 99% of mexican restaurants around here tend to be “let’s throw refried beans and cheese on everything to appeal to American palates”– and that just doesn’t do it for me.

  • vudutu

    Julie,
    Sorry I missed Su Casa, is it a chain? I know there is one in Chicago, rarely ever get to Tri County any more either.

    I know Cumin is Indian, you mentioned it and it just reminded me we need to go.

    I lived out west for about 12 years and really miss GOOD Mex, I was in Chicago two years ago and went to Frontera and Topolobampo multiple times, got to know the bartender and he turned me on to a couple of family owned places that rocked. I am with you on the mediocrity of most small Mex places, we made the mistake of trying Montoyas a couple of weeks ago. I crave good Mex and it is something we don’t cook much. Going to have to dig in and find some good recipes.

    Have you heard of these two, here are a couple of short reviews, way far north for me but I might go if I can confirm…

    Cancun Mexican Restrnt
    11930 Hamilton Ave
    Cincinnati, OH 45231
    Near Hamilton and W Kemper intersection off 275
    “The family that runs this place is so incredibly nice and welcoming. They’ve got friendly service, probably the best Mexican food I’ve had in the Cincinnati area, and even on a Friday night can seat you without a wait usually.”

    Sabor Peruano
    Fairfield, OH
    “Toto, this isn’t Cincinnati anymore. For a moment, I thought I was in a major metropolitan area that had fresh seafood and culture! YOU WON’T BELIEVE THIS PLACE!” First of all, they moved to a new and bigger location. The new address is 7105 Dixie Hwy in Fairfield (formerly Pedro’s Steakhouse) on Dixie Hwy at Mulhauser.

  • Julie

    Vudutu– Ah! Sorry about that, I thought contextually it might get confused.

    I have been to Cancun and it was pretty good, but it’s been about two years and I don’t quite remember. I do remember getting lost going there. I have driven by Sabor Peruano– might try that one next!