Tex-Mex as you expect it at Margarita’s in Valpo
By Mark Taylor Post-Tribune correspondent December 28, 2011 12:10PM
If you go
What: Margarita’s Bar and Grill
Where: 21 E. Lincolnway, Valparaiso
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday
Appetizers begin at $1.75 each for cheese-only quesadillas and $2.50 each for mini burritos. Guacamole ($5.50 to $6.50), Queso Fundido ($6.75) and Nachos Margarita ($7) are offered, along with our Combinacion Margarita’s at $13.50. Homemade soups include chicken (Caldo de Pollo $7.95) and shrimp with oysters and vegetables (Caldo de Camaron $11). Combination plates start at $5.99, up to $16 for the Combinación Norteña. Gorditas and sopes cost $2.75 each or $10.50 for a dinner. The seven shrimp dishes range from $11 to $15. My Parillada Individual is $14.50.
Desserts, such as our flan and the Helado Frito, are $2.50 and $3.50 respectively.
Margarita’s offers an array of cocktails, as well as beers and wines from $3 for domestic brews and averaging $4 for imports and American crafted beers. Margarita’s offers a limited selection of wines at $6 to $7 per glass and by-the-bottle selections run from $22 to $24. Margarita’s is smoke free.
Updated: January 31, 2012 8:09AM
Margarita’s Bar and Grill is a cozy new Mexican-American eatery on the square in downtown Valparaiso, Northwest Indiana’s fine-dining capital.
It offers good Mexican food at reasonable prices but with few surprises.
This restaurant is located in a long, narrow room featuring rough-hewn wood floors, pressed tin ceilings and beautiful murals of small-town Mexican market life. The eatery exudes a homey, familiar vibe with its welcoming staff and friendly service.
Margarita’s opened in May and is owned by Denny Follis, Dennis Hain and Jose Maldonado. Maldonado owns another Margarita’s in Lynwood, Ill., and the popular Valparaiso Italian restaurant, Trio Trattoria.
From an appetizers menu that includes standard fare like guacamole, nachos and queso fundido, we selected the Combinación Margarita’s, which included three mini deep-fried tacos stuffed with ground beef, three small quesadillas, four fried shrimp and three chicken flautas, more than enough for the two of us and a pretty good value. The flautas were crisp and crunchy and the shrimp were succulent. The quesadillas were a little bland, but spiced up with a little salsa they were quite enjoyable.
The restaurant serves gorditas and sopes that can be ordered individually or as part of a dinner, allowing diners many options. Tostadas, tacos, flautas and burritos can also be ordered that way. Margarita’s serves nine varieties of Mexican tortas (sandwiches), including Cuban and vegetarian versions.
My wife selected a combination dish that included one steak taco, one pork tamale and a chicken enchilada. The steak taco was redolent of cilantro and lime, and the pork tamale quite flavorful, with a very nice masa, the cornmeal base. There was nothing exciting or unique about the individual components of this combination plate. It delivered exactly what you hope for when you order it: a variety of tastes, textures and sensations, each cooked the way you remember it.
I ordered the Parillada Individual, a combination platter of mixed grilled meats. While it was quite tasty, it was served more like fajitas and less like the char-grilled meats I imagined. It did include a wide selection of meats and seafood, sautéed with onions and green peppers, and served sizzling hot with rice and beans. The flavors of the shrimp, meats and veggies melded well and were accompanied by chopped lettuce, tomatoes and a small serving of guacamole.
Margarita’s only offers a limited selection of desserts — flan and deep-fried ice cream — though our server said more are planned. The flan was a simple egg custard with a light caramel syrup. It was fresh and delicious and a pleasant way to cap off a fine Mexican dinner.
While our service was fast throughout most of the evening, as the restaurant grew more crowded, it was harder to find our server. Still, other serving staff were more than willing to step in and respond to our requests.