Taqueria el Bronco, Margarita Run II Stop #1 – Cherokee Street, St. Louis, MO

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Margaritas Jose Cuervo, Taqueria el Bronco – St. Louis, MOAfter the fun we had on my first Margarita run a couple of years ago, I decided it was time for another. This time, we would focus on establishments on Cherokee Street in St. Louis, an area well known for Mexican restaurants and grocery stores.

Our first stop was Taqueria el Bronco. I chose their “Margaritas Jose Cuervo”. It had an overall good flavor, although the tequila did taste like a mixto, which I believed due to the fact there was a bit of a “twang” on the palette. Light and balanced, if it had better tequila it could have been a big winner. However for this visit, I only rate it a 7. Now they do have Don Julio, Patron, Hornitos and some other nice tequilas in their bar, so I believe they would use a better tequila if asked. However for this visit I just wanted to get their normal recipe. If I ever come back, I’ll be sure to request a better tequila.

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Cantina Laredo – Clayton, MO

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Margarita, Casa Laredo – Clayton, MOAn upscale Mexican restaurant in the town of Clayton, MO, I was really excited to try Cantina Laredo. As it just so happened, I noticed the County Executive of St. Louis County was having a drink there while we were having lunch. Happening place it seems!

I chose to sample their Casa Rita Margarita, their claimed “signature margarita.” Highlighting Giro Silver tequila, Cointreau, and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juices, I figured this Margarita should be a winner. Overall the drink was decent tasting, but it had a bit of strong alcohol finish. It tasted like it might have been a bit too much Cointreau. It was also a little lacking in sweetness and not enough of the fresh lime juice flavor comes through. The “wang” of the Cointreau made it taste like it was made with a mix, even though the ingredients seemed to be all top-notch. On this visit, I would rate the Casa Rita from Cantina Laredo a 6.5, but I’m wondering if the bartender was just a little too heavy-handed on the alcohol this time around. One day I’ll make it back to Cantina Laredo and give their signature Margarita another try.

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Another Visit to Cleveland-Heath – Edwardsville, IL

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Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao and Tres Agaves TequilaSince I last wrote about Cleveland Heath’s Margarita, I’ve visited a few times since then, but hadn’t written about their Margarita. This visit I wanted to make sure to take notes of the Margarita I was served.

One of the great things about Cleveland Heath is that they have an excellent bar. They make many varieties of great drinks using fresh ingredients and expert bartending. I asked the bartender what he made his Margaritas with and he showed me Tres Agaves Tequila and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao. Tres Agaves is a quite popular Tequila around my area and I’ve found it to be quite smooth and tasty in a Margarita.

Margarita, Cleveland Heath – Edwardsville, ILThe Margarita I had this visit was quite tasty and smooth. It had a great balance of sweet and citrus flavors. Perhaps it was just a bit on the sweet side and I would have preferred a little more fresh lime flavor, but it was overall excellent, as their drinks usually are. I would rate the Margarita on this visit an 8.

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Applebee’s Again – Glen Carbon, IL

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Applebee's new Margarita Menu

Applebee’s new Margarita Menu

Prior to this particular visit to an Applebee’s, I had stopped for dinner at an Applebees on the way back from a road trip. I noticed at the time that they were featuring a new Margarita selection menu. I didn’t take the time to compare the new varieties as I usually order the Perfect Margarita, but I did have a sip of another variety of Margarita a friend had ordered. I thought the flavor was good, so the next chance I got to go to Applebees, I wanted to make sure to sample several of the new offerings. Plus it was almost my birthday, so I figured this was a good way to celebrate!

Applebee's Blue Agave 'Rita, Applebee's – Glen Carbon, IL

Applebee’s Blue Agave ‘Rita

I first tried their Blue Agave ‘Rita, made with Sauza Blue tequila and lime juice. The ingredients sounded simple, so I was hopeful it would be a good Margarita. This was a flavorful drink with both sweet and tart components well balanced and decent tequila flavor. I felt it could have used a little more fresh lime flavor, but overall I would give it a 7.5 this day.

Next I tried my old standby, the Perfect Margarita. The menu listed 1800 Reposado tequila, Cointreau and Grand Marnier, and lime juice as the ingredients. I’m not sure if Applebee’s had changed the formula or if these were the ingredients they had always used, but this particular

Applebee's Perfect Margarita, Applebee's – Glen Carbon, IL

Applebee’s Perfect Margarita

Perfect Margarita tasted a little different that I remembered. It seemed like it had more lime juice than usual and the consistency was not quite as thick. It was still a good drink overall, however. Between the Perfect and the Blue Agave ‘Rita the main difference in flavor I felt was the Grand Marnier. For this visit, I would rate the Perfect Margarita also at 7.5

Finally I tried a new variety, the Perfect Patron Margarita. Highlighting Patron Silver tequila and lime juice, I was also quite interested in that a listed ingredient was Patron Citronge, which as I mentioned before, has become one of my favorite orange liqueurs to use in a Margarita. Regardless, I was excited to try this Margarita because of the ingredients. As compared to the regular Perfect

Applebee's Perfect Patron Margarita, Applebee's – Glen Carbon, IL

Applebee’s Perfect Patron Margarita

Margarita, the Patron version was a little smoother and not as acidic. I felt that it was a little better than the regular version and therefore would rate it an 8 for this visit.

Once again it was nice to see a popular restaurant chain start to feature Margaritas with top shelf ingredients. I wonder if this is a trend for some reason? Maybe they’ve been reading my blog? 🙂

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Dave and Buster’s – St. Louis, MO

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Margarita Menu, Dave and Buster's, St. Louis, MO

Dave and Buster’s new Margarita Menu

Dave and Buster’s may be known for their food and video games, but when visiting them this day, they had a nice selection of Margaritas, all featuring 100% Agave Tequila. So, of course, I decided to sample a couple. All in the name of finding the ultimate Margarita!

Dave and Buster’s offered a Perfect Margarita (not to be confused with Applebee’s version). I really liked the fact they listed Patron Citronge liquor, which has become one of my favorite orange liqueurs to use in a Margarita. I’ll explain why in a future posting.

Perfect Margarita, Dave and Buster's, St. Louis, MO

Dave and Buster’s Perfect Margarita

The first sip was very thick on the palette, to which I assume was due to a high sugar content or consistency of the mix they used. The overall flavor was very tart, yet it was smooth and sweet. This wasn’t a Margarita I would consider to be a traditional flavor, but if you like the flavor of the mix they use in their Perfect Margarita, then you could be a fan. Just be aware that it is quite sweet! I’d rate Dave and Buster’s Perfect Margarita a 7.5 for this visit.

Next I tried their Million Dollar Margarita. Certainly an interesting name so I decided to give it a try. As compared to the Perfect Margarita, the Million Dollar was not quite as thick. It was tart and sweet with a little more citrusy flavor. Overall it was a smoother tasting drink although it still had a bit of a mix flavor. I’d give the Million Dollar Margarita a 7.5 as well.

Million Dollar Margarita, Dave and Buster's, St. Louis, MO

Dave and Buster’s Million Dollar Margarita

It certainly is nice to see more places featuring Margaritas on their menu, especially when they detail the ingredients they use and those ingredients are quality. We just need to get more places to realize that they need certain ingredients to be more fresh instead of mixes and we’ll be on our way to Margarita heaven!

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Diablitos Cantina Revisited Again – St. Louis, MO

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Top Shelf Margarita, Diablitos Cantina – St. Louis, MO

The last time we visited Diablito’s Cantina I really enjoyed the Margaritas. You can read a more extensive write-up in my previous posting. This time was a lunch visit with my wife, so I figured I’d sample their Margaritas again.

As before, the top shelf Margarita had a really good overall taste, with good tequila flavor and well-balanced components. I would rate it an 8.5 for this visit. In comparison, the house Margarita was basically average. It’s hard to explain why, as it wasn’t a bad drink, but to some degree the top shelf Margarita just tasted like it had “fuller” flavor. I would give Diablito’s house margarita a 7.5 for this visit.

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Bar Louie – Oakbrook Terrace, IL

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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.

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Angelo’s Ristorante – Elmhurst, IL

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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.

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Flat Top Grill – Lombard, IL

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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.

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Ditka’s – Oakbrook Terrace, IL

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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.

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