Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Pumpkin Sangria and Two-Pound Tacos at Margaritas

If I could only eat one type of ethnic cuisine for the rest of my life, it would very likely be Mexican. I’m a sucker for really good Italian food, a novice (but very curious) Indian food eater, I enjoy Japanese cuisine and the occasional unhealthy dish of Chinese food, and I love what the Greek have going on, but there is just something about Mexican dishes that has totally won my heart. I think it stems from many childhood visits to see my Aunt in the heart of Mexico, where I was treated to the most authentic Mexican dishes, and the most authentic Mexican people. Something about the people and the place always made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and as a (very novice) Spanish speaker, I always got a kick out of trying to fit in there, make conversation with the locals, and find our way through the city.

It’s been many years now since I visited, but I can still vividly remember watching an older Mexican mother hand-press corn tortillas for us, minutes later stuffing them full of just-roasted rotisserie chicken and hunks of fresh avocado. We’d eat them that simply, alongside the ripest, most perfumey, just-picked Ataulfo mangos. It was a wonderful thing. While no food you can get in the states can even come close to comparing, the memories will always live on in my head, and my mouth will always be on the hunt for the next best thing.

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant - Waltham MA

This one doesn’t need much introduction… Bacon Guacamole. It’s as good as it sounds.

I was recently approached about attending a blogger event at Margaritas in Waltham. I had never been, but had a general understanding in my mind that the food was mediocre, and it was a kind of hokey place. However, I’ve been trying to extend myself more lately, so I agreed to attend… and I won’t lie, the lure of tequila and a 2-pound taco may have had some weight in that decision. The evening ended up being a lot more involved and educational than I expected, and I left feeling pleasantly surprised.

Seasonal beverages: Apple Cinnamon Margarita and Pumpkin Sangria two ways (one with merlot, the other with a sauvignon blanc). All served with a cinnamon sugar rim.

The group of bloggers at this event included not one single person that I knew, which was a first for me, because I am so used to dining with other area food bloggers. Turns out, these were mostly parent/family bloggers, lots of whom were already well acquainted with each other, but all incredibly friendly, jovial, and fun. Our host for the evening was a member of the in-house marketing team, Patrick, who was so clearly passionate about the company, their mission, and their food. Patrick shared an incredible amount of information with us throughout the evening, from the basics about the company’s history, to how their menu is created and updated, to where they source their restaurant artwork, how they give back to the community, and their deep and close ties with the Mexican community.

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant - Waltham MA

The Taco Gigante! A 2 pound monstrosity filled with everything but the kitchen sink.

There is far too much information to share all of the little details with you here, so I will share my biggest take-away, which is that there is a lot more to Margaritas than meets the eye. First — the food. This is a pretty major generalization, but I think that Mexican restaurants in the United States often get extra harsh critique, because they are constantly being compared to the true authentic Mexican flavors that many know and love. I’m guilty of the same thing — I can appreciate overly Americanized Mexican food if that’s my expectation beforehand, but I often find myself thinking that the seasoning is off or flour tortillas are a total cop-out, that there is too much cheese or not enough spice, and the list goes on. What I had never really considered before is that sometimes, that might be on purpose. Patrick made it clear to us that the menu at Margaritas is in no way meant to be “authentic” Mexican — it’s meant to be an interpretation of Mexican flavors and trends, updated for our American palates, and created to satisfy the kinds of customers that come to a place like Margaritas. I found myself thinking much differently about the menu after I considered this. At the Waltham location, Chef Patrick provost is the man behind the menu, and he came out often throughout the evening to explain his dishes.

Margaritas Waltham event-6

Habanero Honey Camarones (fried shrimp!). The batter on these was super light, crispy crunchy, and well seasoned.

Second — the decor. Every single item that decorates a Margaritas restaurant is imported from Mexico. Even some of the building accents are brought in, because they aim to have a very authentic atmosphere, and a very accurate representation of art and culture as you might see it in Mexico today. I found myself appreciating the atmosphere and decor much more after learning about how it’s all created.

Third — the philanthropic aspect. Margaritas is heavily involved in their local community, which of course makes me want to support them even more. Whether it’s for a specific organization or event, or just giving back to the community at large, they are constantly coming up with ways to support the people that make their business possible. They’re also closely linked to the Mexican community, particularly the artisans who produce work for their restaurants. I think that kind of commitment to relationships, community, and the people who make the brand what is it, is pretty cool.

Habanero Honey Chicken Fajita and Mexican Corn Cakes. Corn cakes for the win!

I had a pleasant evening at Margaritas, and would definitely go back. I found the drinks in general to be a bit sweet for my liking, though it was a lot of fun to try pumpkin sangria. I hadn’t even really considered that before! Towards the end of the meal, I also got to try The Naked Lime, which is just a straight-up margarita, nice and simple. That was still too sweet for me, but very clean tasting and easy to drink.

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant - Waltham MA

Loved this star light fixture hanging over our dining area.

The food overall was good, though a few things stood out more than others. Two of the dishes we tried had habaneros in the sauce, which I thought was a bit daring because some people (myself included) are really spice-averse, but I actually really enjoyed the flavor, and found the heat to be tolerable. The Mexican Corn Cakes (slow braised beef, corn cakes, sweet tomatillo sauce, salsa fresca, avocado, poblano crema, queso fresco) were far and away my favorite, because they were really authentic tasting, and there was a lot going on, but all of the flavors just went so well together. It was also a lot of fun to try the Taco Gigante, which is only available for a limited time, starting today actually! It has basically everything but the kitchen sink in it, and I’m not kidding you when I say it weighed 2 pounds. They had to have a special taco shell maker built just to create the taco shells for this particular dish! It’s certainly a novelty item, and while that’s not typically my thing, I definitely got a kick out of it.

Handmade Mexican art scattered around the restaurant.

If you’re ever in the area, and looking for some American Mexican noshes, I would recommend a stop. They have great happy hour deals on food, and an extensive menu so there’s something for everyone. Thanks to Margaritas for having me, and for the educational experience!

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant & Watering Hole on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: This meal was provided to me free of charge. As usual, all opinions expressed are are my own.

 

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