Pozole and a handmade tortilla

Pozole and a handmade tortilla

Photos by Bettina Monique Chavez 

Party favorites

Margaritas makes winning (and losing) feel a whole lot better

By Erica Wayne 11/11/2010

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Well, California, it’s been a rough few months for you and me. You’ve been living with nonstop political ads: Jerry has senile dementia, Meg tortures her maids, Barbara (unlike Christine) IS a witch, and poor Carly is being stalked by demon wolves — or is it the other way round?
I’ve been working at the local United Democratic Headquarters helping with the GOTV (Get Out The Vote) effort, making thousands of calls to demoralized citizens, begging them to understand that positive change takes time while loading up on pizza and burgers, doughnuts and muffins, chips and popcorn, sodas etc. provided by the staff to keep our spirits and energy level — not to mention my weight — high.
Yes, dear readers, if you didn’t know it before (and with apologies to any Republicans among you) I am one of THEM — a secret Muslim, Marxist, socialist, communist, atheistic fascist in favor of Obamacare, gay marriage, redistribution of wealth, an end to the death penalty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. I believe in evolution, global warming, tearing down that wall (at the Mexican border) and giving peace a chance. And, in California, unlike most of the homeland, I’m not alone.
So, as the election results became apparent, I could take heart that four of the five signs on my front yard had winners’ names on them. And, looking a bit further a field I could cheer as meek Harry Reid survived in our neighboring state of Nevada and feisty Patty Murray made it in Oregon despite heavy tea party efforts to unseat them. Time to celebrate? Or time to mourn?
First the mourning. After watching the color red slowly seep west to blanket the map, I briefly took to my bed with the remnants of our Halloween candy to watch “Law & Order” reruns. However, after two nights and about 147 fun-size Snickers (thank goodness Proposition 19 went down or, believe me, it would have been more), it was time to for some real sustenance.
The choice of a restaurant was crucial. Should it be vegan for Brown, deli for Boxer or Indian in hope of a Kamala Harris pull-out victory? But my husband and I decided instead to celebrate the voters pundits said were most responsible for the California and Nevada victories — Latinos who reacted to stimuli like the fear-mongering anti-immigration ads of Sharron Angle and the poor treatment of Meg’s maid by coming out in record numbers to vote for their opponents.
So we decided our first meal out should be at Margaritas, our old standby favorite whenever we want to go east instead of west. Stucco, with a tile roof and orange, brown and yellow trim, Margaritas is appropriately Disneyesque Mexican in feeling. The original building, facing the street, includes the bar and is divided into irregular niches by partitions. The rear addition has a more open, more brightly lit dining area. We prefer the rustic, cozy atmosphere of the front rooms.
Margaritas’ menu hasn’t changed too much over the years. And neither has my taste. I mostly order the same food: a combo platter ($10.99) with one (huge) shredded beef taco, one cheese enchilada and one chile relleno with a simple side of whole black beans instead of rice and refries, which aren’t exceptional. The chips are always warm; the salsa chunky, freshly made and searingly hot; the margaritas icy cold and strong.
Occasionally, I order a sizzling platter of fajitas. The hunks of meat, chunks of green pepper, mushrooms, tomato and onions produce an irresistible aroma. It’s especially good when the cook really chars the vegetables; we always request them that way. I usually specify beef ($15.99), to satisfy a carnivorous mate, but chicken, shrimp and “three-flavor” fish, shrimp and scallop variants are also available.
The classiest selections on Margaritas’ menu include a number of seafood dishes, e.g., crab and shrimp enchiladas ($11.99); bacon-wrapped, crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp ($18.99); and a plump seafood chile relleno, filled with shrimp, crab and fish and topped with a creamy chipotle sauce ($15.99). I’ve tried them all at one time or another and always enjoyed them; but, somehow, the simple, peasant stuff hidden at the back of the menu is more satisfying.
The large quesadillas ($7.99) at Margaritas are a thing of beauty, laid out over half a large dinner plate and garnished with sour cream, diced tomato and guacamole in a pattern resembling a Mexican flag. And I recently tried a super shrimp taco platter ($11.99), garnished with cabbage and a “special sauce” that reminded me of the one on a Big Mac, each taco wrapped in two soft, warm tortillas.
For vegetarians, Margaritas’ spinach enchiladas ($10.99) stuffed with mushrooms, carrots and squash, with a tasty green sauce and melted cheese are a good choice. So are the vegetable (tomato, carrot, squash, onion, mushroom and bell pepper) fajitas ($10.99) and the veggie burrito ($9.49).
And, of course, no Mexican meal, especially at this eponymously named restaurant, would be complete without margaritas. The menu lists a host of them, from Cuervo Gold ($5.95/$6.95) to 24 Karat ($8.50/$9.50). Needing to toast and re-toast the Democratic winners and the voters who pushed them over the top, we ordered ourselves a pitcher of Cadillac margaritas ($27.95) and drank to winners, voters and to the good fortune of living in our blue haven.

155 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena | (626) 449-4224
Full bar/Major cards


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