Margarita Ranch could get by quite nicely on the merit of its location alone. Its patio sits on the choicest chunk of real estate at hip shopping center Mockingbird Station, next to the Angelika Film Center.
A less ambitious restaurant might simply sling margaritas and quesadillas and call it a day. But Margarita Ranch also does grilled quail, shrimp, and ribs, lacquered with a mango-honey glaze that tasted like sweet barbecue sauce. Flan had a refreshing shot of mango and a spoonful of real, unsweetened whipped cream—sophisticated stuff.
’Twas a treat to find blue corn tortillas in the chicken enchiladas, wrapped around tender bites of white-meat-only chicken in a lush sour cream sauce. Rice, dotted with diced carrots and corn, tasted moist and fresh. Tortilla chips, paper-thin and devoid of grease, came with above-average salsa, a toasty purée of tomato and pepper served warm.
Nachos, enough for four to share, used creamy white queso—no cheesy Velveeta, no sir—plus chopped tomatoes, jalapeños, and spicy fajita meat. But what to make of the guacamole, with its strange canned flavor? Stranger still were the drab margaritas. At $4.50, at least they were cheap. It seems an odd plight for a place with “margarita” in the title. A higher-priced, better-tasting collection using designer tequilas is offered for those whose margarita visions are more ambitious.
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