I grew up in Southwest Detroit which is now referred to as Mexican Town, but it wasn’t always that way. Yes, I know that I write about wines, but when I am enjoying Mexican cuisine, I tend to drink Margaritas. I have had some Mexican wines, but they tend to be far and few between, which I find odd, but I can always find a great Margarita. I have even tried Mexican beers, but since this Armenian kid from the neighborhood grew up on Molson’s Canadian, I will stick to Margaritas. Let it not be said that I don’t still try a new Mexican beer or wine, but the beverage from the agave plant, which is a succulent plant and not a cactus or a relation to an Aloe Vera plant as is common attributed keeps me smiling.
Back in my youth, when one wanted Mexican food, the oldest and still going strong restaurant is still in the original Mexican Town, not far from the Ambassador Bridge, the grounds where the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Lions used to play, near the Irish Cork Town district and the melting pot known as Delray, and I might also mention not far from downtown Detroit. I was introduced to Mexican Village by one of the kids that I grew up with, back then a whole bunch of us would go there for dinner. He also introduced me to Ribs and Mole (and yes I cannot for the life of me, figure out how to get an accent over the e). Mole Sauce for the uninitiated may sound odd, because it is made with Mexican Chocolate and it is spicy, not sweet and I love the dish. I can no longer get it the Mole Sauce with ribs, but I can find it with Chicken and that works too. In fact, I kind of get an attitude when we try a different Mexican restaurant and they don’t offer any dishes with that sauce. Another of my favorite restaurants that was near to Mexican Village and also close to the gas station where I had my first job was Fuentes de Elena, and it may have been too classy for its day as it was a white table cloth Mexican restaurant and I always thought the food was stellar, but it was not what the public wanted in Mexican food, I guess.
Getting back to Margaritas, I will tell you that I always ask for the basic well-drink from the restaurant that I am at. If the Margarita still has personality and style, I rightfully presume that the food will be the same way. When they skimp on the Margarita, they skimp on the quality of the food. Some of the best hole-in-the-wall joints that I have eaten at, have great Margaritas and great food. I like the traditional Margarita on the rocks with the rim salted, now my Bride always wants a Frozen Margarita and no salt, which is an anathema to me, but it keeps her happy, and at least she likes Chicken and Mole. To this day, I really never give much thought to the tequila that is being used, as I trust the establishment to give me something decent, but I remember the first time we went to a “hot” new place called Agave, which is no longer open, but they were a trail blazer, because they were located in the “no man’s land” of Detroit, which is now the hottest area for housing and restaurants. Agave proudly proclaimed that they had every brand of tequila available, and the array of bottles was impressive, in fact the other liquors were kept out of sight, they were there, but tequila was king. I am still not a maven on tequila, but if the Margarita is made with some artistry, I am a happy man with some great memories that normally are not germane to this Blog, but I do beg your indulgence, in letting me go off on a tangent on occasions.