Bar Louie – Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Posted by

Margarita, Bar Louie – Oakbrook Terrace, ILOur family was staying at a Holiday Inn while we were visiting my sister in the Chicago area. On our last night in town, my wife and I decided to head down to the hotel bar, which was actually a Bar Louie inside the hotel. I figured I had tried a Margarita everywhere else we had gone this weekend so I might as well finish it off with one more!

Right off the Margarita tasted like it was made with a mix. It didn’t have enough fresh lime flavor for me. However the flavor was pretty good overall. Good enough that I would give this Margarita a 7. Given how stocked the bar was at Bar Louie, I have a feeling that if I had ordered a Margarita with specific ingredients, the bartender would have been able to oblige my order. Next time I’m at a Bar Louie, I’ll try talking to the bartender to see what they can do. So the moral of the story, as with many places if you want to ensure a good Margarita, you may need to be specific with the ingredients.

Read More

Angelo’s Ristorante – Elmhurst, IL

Posted by

Margarita, Angelo's Ristorante – Elmhurst, IL

It’s not often you get a foamy Margarita. At least the flavor was decent.

We were visiting my sister in the Chicago area and it happened to be Valentine’s Day weekend. I had made a reservation at a restaurant I looked up for the night of Saturday the 13th but shockingly, the restaurant seemed to go out of business a couple of days before we made our trip. I was left scrambling to find something at the last minute and I figured that it would nearly be impossible to find a table for our family. I remembered a restaurant we had eaten before in Elmhurst called Angelo’s that was not far from where we were staying. Luckily, it had a few tables available for an evening meal so we jumped at the chance.

It had been several years since we last visited and the place had gone through a makeover. So it was oddly familiar yet quite different at the same time. Happily, the food was still very good and I figured I would also try a Margarita as a pre-dinner cocktail.  The first odd thing I noticed about the Margarita was that it came out very foamy. Perhaps they put it in a blender to mix it up, otherwise I’m not sure how it came out like that. As far as the flavor went, it had a good citrus component up front and overall a decent flavor. However it had a bit of an odd tequila flavor, which I think may have been due to the use of Añejo tequila. I don’t particularly like oak flavor in a Margarita, which is the hallmark of an Añejo. I can’t be sure that is what the odd flavor was, but it distracted from the overall drink. Still, it was a good Margarita, especially considering Anjelo’s is an Italian restaurant. I give the drink I had that night a 7.

If you’re ever in the West suburbs of Chicago, be sure to give Angelo’s in Elmhurst a try. It seems to me that both the town of Elmhurst and Angelo’s restaurants are hidden little gems in the area. Angelo’s food is great and it is the type of place where you can take a date or just go for some really good Italian food.

Read More

Flat Top Grill – Lombard, IL

Posted by

Margarita, Flat Top Grill – Lombard, ILAfter trying Mike Ditka’s the night before, my family’s second day in Chicagoland we went to have lunch with my sister at Flat Top Grill in Lombard. Flat Top Grill is a really unique concept in restaurants, where you choose your ingredients for your meal and they are grilled right out in the middle of the restaurant. My family has eaten here before on previous visits to the Chicago area and we wanted to try it again. Of course, I figured I would try a Margarita if they had one, and much to my surprise Flat Top Grill actually features a Margarita selection among other speciality cocktails.

I went ahead and ordered a “traditional” Margarita since I didn’t want any additional flavorings. Flat Top has an option for a Margarita “straight up” which basically means it is not on the rocks. I can’t say I’ve ever seen this option before anywhere I’ve been, although the Applebee’s Perfect Margarita ends up being like this when it is served from the shaker to the glass. So I thought, what the heck! Let’s give “straight up” a try.

I’m happy to report that this was a good Margarita, clean and smooth with a fresh citrus flavor up front and a nice tequila flavor. The only downside was that the finish was a bit more fruity or sweet than it was citrus. Some people may like this, but I would prefer the Margarita to stay citrus all the way through. Overall the Margarita was good but not great, so I give it a 7.

Read More

Ditka’s – Oakbrook Terrace, IL

Posted by

Margarita, Ditka's – Oakbrook Terrace, ILMy family took a trip up to the suburbs of Chicago to visit a friend and my sister. The first night we were in town, we met our friend at Ditka’s Restaurant in Oakbrook Terrace. It was fun explaining to my daughters who Mike Ditka was, especially since my younger one has developed an interest in football, but it was also fun starting off a weekend of Margarita tastings in places I had never been before!

Mike Ditka was the coach of the Chicago Bears when they steamrolled the rest of the league in 1985 en route to a nearly perfect Super Bowl championship season. They only lost one game that entire season, then they spectacularly routed the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX, cementing their place in football lore with one of the best defenses in history. I guess when you bring a city like Chicago their first NFL championship in over 20 years, you can open a chain of successful restaurants! The real question, however, are the Margaritas at Ditka’s championship-caliber? With a listing of ingredients including Don Julio, Cointreau, fresh lime, and agave nectar, it certainly seemed like this Margarita had what it took to go all the way.

The Margarita I had that night came in a signature Ditka’s glass. It started off with good tequila flavor and the flavors were well balanced. This is as I would expect from the line-up of ingredients given. Unfortunately, it had a slight bit of bitterness overall, which detracted a bit from an otherwise very good Margarita. I’m not sure what it was, but assuming they didn’t have any other ingredients than what was listed, it may have been just a bit too much Cointreau. So while this particular drink doesn’t win the Super Bowl of Margaritas, it did put up a good game. I rate the Margarita I had that night an 8, but it would probably had scored higher if it didn’t suffer from the slight bitter flavor.

Read More

Mike Shannon’s Grill Revisited – Edwardsville, IL

Posted by

Margarita, Mike Shannon's Grill - Edwardsville, ILIt had been a while since I last visited Mike Shannon’s Grill in Edwardsville, IL and I was eager to give their Margarita another try. I’m happy to say this experience was much better than the last one.

The first thing I noticed was a good tequila flavor. All the flavors were balanced and the ingredients seemed fresh and flavorful. Overall, it was just a very good Margarita. I would rate the Margarita I had that day an 8.5, which was a significant improvement over the 6.5 I rated it last time. I suspect, as is the case in many establishments, that the skill of the bartender may have a lot to do with the quality of the Margarita they serve. Or perhaps the standard Margarita recipe at Mike Shannon’s Grill has improved. I don’t know for sure, but I’ll be sure to try again soon to be sure!

Read More

Buffalo Wild Wings – Kirkwood, MO

Posted by

Primo Margarita, Buffalo Wild Wings – Kirkwood, MOOne would not normally equate a chicken wing joint with having a good Margarita. However, I’m happy to say that the Primo Margarita at Buffalo Wild Wings does not disappoint!

First off, though, I must brag a little. I took the Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin’ Wings Challenge a few years ago and totally nailed it. Basically, you must eat 12 of the spiciest wings served at Buffalo Wild Wings in 6 minutes or less. For me the spiciness wasn’t the hard part – although, yes, the Blazin’ wings are quite spicy! The hard part was simply chewing and swallowing that much meat in less than 6 minutes! A video of me taking the Blazin’ Wings Challenge is at the bottom of this post. But back to the Margarita.

The menu stated that the Primo Margarita was made with Patron Silver and Cointreau. Certainly that is a good start, but the proof is in the pudding … er, Margarita. The overall flavor was good and smooth. It had a slight bit of an artificial flavor, but otherwise it was very tasty. So much so I had no qualms ordering a second. The Margarita I had that night at Buffalo Wild Wings rated an 8 on my scale. So if you’re at Buffalo Wild Wings and you are craving a good Margarita, do not hesitate to order the Primo Margarita.

And if you want to know about the Blazin’ Wing Challenge, here is the video of me doing it a few years ago:

Read More

Wild Flower, Revisited – St. Louis, MO

Posted by

Wild Orchid Margarita, Wild Flower Restaurant, St. Louis, MOI’ve previously written about the signature Margarita at the Wild Flower restaurant in St. Louis. My family decided to have dinner there again this night, so of course I took the opportunity to sample their Margarita again.

As I mentioned before, their Wild Orchid Margarita is not your normal Margarita. But I’ve enjoyed having the drink when I’ve had it before. Unfortunately, this night was not so great. The first taste I had was very tequila-strong. I figured maybe it needed to be stirred a bit to smooth it out. But even after stirring, it was still very strong on the tequila flavor. I guess they were just a little heavy-handed on the tequila this night. Now don’t get me wrong, I like tequila flavor but if it is not balanced in a Margarita, it just isn’t as nice. I could still taste the “signature flavor” of the Wild Orchid Margarita, but with the overpowering flavor of the tequila, it just wasn’t as good as before. So for this night, I only rate the Wild Orchid Margarita a 6.

Read More

A Return to Cleveland-Heath – Edwardsville, IL

Posted by

Margarita, Cleveland-Heath – Edwardsville, ILMy wife and I really love a restaurant in our town called Cleveland-Heath. It is now one of the signature restaurants in this area, which is becoming known for startup restaurants in the St. Louis area. I’ve already reviewed the Margarita I had there, but I thought I would have another this night.

As before, the Margarita I had was well-balanced. This night it had a nice strong overall flavor. It was a little better than I remembered it previously. All said, it was an excellent Margarita, which went well with the excellent food they serve there. I would rate the Margarita I had this night an 8.

Read More

Tequilas – Carbondale, IL

Posted by

Margarita, Tequilas – Carbondale, ILWhere I live we have a local university called Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. The original Southern Illinois University is located in Carbondale, IL, about two hours south. When I went to college in the early 1990’s, SIU-Carbondale was famously known as the biggest party school in the country. I never got to personally experience a party at “southern,” as the kids from Chicago called it, since I went to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. From what I understand, SIU-Carbondale has taken steps to tame the party atmosphere at their school so that may be a thing of the past. But I figured I would at least have a Margarita since I was visiting Carbondale.

My family wanted to grab a quick bite to eat as we were leaving this evening, so we found a Mexican restaurant called Tequilas. I would hope that if the namesake of the restaurant was the signature alcohol of a Margarita, they would have a good one. The restaurant itself was nothing special, your average Mexican place. The Margarita similarly was nothing special, pretty much an average restaurant Margarita. On the plus side, it was light and refreshing along with being well-balanced. However, not surprisingly, it tasted like it was made with a mix, although lime juice may have been involved. So the overall flavor was nice, but really nothing special. So I would simply rate the Margarita I had this night a 6.5.

I suspect that in a university town with the party reputation of Carbondale that there has to be a better Margarita somewhere. I’m sure I’ll be back again, so I’ll see what I can find. Certainly if anyone who has partied there has some recommendations I’m all ears!

Read More

Truffles – St. Louis, MO

Posted by

Margarita, Truffles – St. Louis, MOMy wife and I got a chance to try out a restaurant we had never visited before, Truffles in St. Louis (technically, a suburb called Ladue, but the address is St. Louis). As you might have guessed, I took this opportunity to try out a Margarita.

I’m not sure why we had never been to Truffles. It is a bit of a hidden gem in St. Louis. One of the really unique things about Truffles is that they have a full butcher shop attached to the restaurant. So if you liked the meat you had for dinner at Truffles, you can stop next door and bring some home!

The meal we had that night at Truffles was excellent. We will definitely be going back again. The Margarita I had that night was good, but not great. It was made with Avion Silver tequila and was nicely balanced, but it lacked enough fresh lime flavor for my taste. I suspect a mix was used but I can’t be sure. So I would rate the Margarita that night just a 7. However, given the caliber of the restaurant, I feel confident that if I had requested a particular Margarita, they would have made to order. So the next time we go to Truffles, I will ask a few more questions and and see if the bartender can work some magic.

Read More