Dallas Must-Do List: Mariano’s Frozen Margarita

Lisa raises her glass.

I’m not sure if living in Texas for more than 10 years makes me qualified enough to be considered a Texan, but I do know I have acquired quite a few Texan traits over the years, especially having to do with my palate. I now understand what queso means, stomach jalapenos, crave tacos, and every now and then I need a good margarita. Typically I satisfy my Tex-Mex and tequila cravings by making the rounds between Mi Cocina, Mattito’s, Javier’s, and Taco Diner.

When reading that every Dallasite must drink a frozen margarita from Mariano’s Hacienda, I knew I was up for the job. It would be my 11th stop towards completing the Things Every Dallasite Must Do.  I headed to Skillman Avenue, not knowing if I should expect a small family-run operation or a busy restaurant. What I found was surprisingly large and festive, though quite empty.

The friendly host told us we could sit wherever we liked, so we chose a table out in the warm air on the patio. Although the patio sticks out into a parking lot, the burning chimanea and salsa music made me feel like I was on a Mexican vacation. We had the patio to ourselves, with the exception of two women who seemed to be having some sort of altercation with the waiter about whether they had already paid. I would imagine this sort of people-watching entertainment occurs quite frequently after a few of Mariano’s 100 percent blue agave margaritas.

I ordered a plate of chicken nachos along with the classic Top Shelf Frozen Margarita. I had half expected a grand display, perhaps complete with a neon plastic souvenir cup. However, the drink arrived in a simple glass tumbler with a lightly salted rim and a straw. It tasted just like a frozen margarita should — not too sweet or syrupy, with the perfect blend of citrusy saltiness and tequila kick. After finishing it, I wanted another one, as is the curse of the margarita. However, I was dissuaded.

Throughout the evening, I experienced the feelings of pride and awe one has when they know they are in the presence of historical greatness. According to the menu, owner Mariano Martinez invented the frozen margarita machine on May 11, 1971. The original machine was inducted into the Smithsonian Museum in 2005, where it is on display along with the rest of the world’s finest inventions.

In 2010, Smithsonian Magazine published a list of the “Top Ten Inventions from the National Museum of American History’s Collection.” Mariano’s frozen margarita machine made the list only at No. 10, but, hey, No. 1 was the light bulb.

To celebrate the upcoming 40th birthday of the machine, Mariano’s is hosting “Margaritafest” from May 5 to 11. Stop by then for half off of various margaritas throughout the week and revel in the realization of the American Dream.