Where We Eat: Margarita’s Mexican

I’m a cheap bastard.

My normal practice when driving across the bay to concerts is to park my car in one of the two hour parking slots, head into the show to catch the opening band, leave the venue and move my car to another two hour spot and return to finish the concert. On Thursday night that actually saved me from missing a pretty significant event.

My daughter Zora was born. I had no idea when I left that night to see the 1975 that J-Fur was going to deliver a baby. She seemed in good spirits and the due date was still six weeks away. But a bout of sickness lead her to the hospital. I knew this because I checked my phone (which I leave in the car during concerts) and saw a text message from her saying she felt ill. I went back in to see some of the Neighbourhood. After part of their set I figured I should head back to Tampa and see what was up. On the way I got the news, J-Fur was in the hospital. I went straight their unarmed with any clothes, snacks, cameras or anything else my baby class suggested.

And later that night, in a surprise move, she delivered a 4 pound 10 ounce baby into this world.

Since then I’ve been laying in a hospital on Davis Island surrounded by nothing but stalled out boats, yuppie runners and fast food joints, waiting patiently for both baby and mother to recover. I had a small supply of food with me, some chili and semi developed sourdough bread (posts on those later), that I finally buried completely in my gut last night. So this afternoon, after the baby had been fed four times and mama was snoozing in the bed, I took a few minutes to walk to the downtown portion of Davis Island and see what kind of food I could score up.

I picked a Mexican joint, a place called Margarita’s Mexican. Apparently it used to be a thriving restaurant called Estella’s that faded into a garbage heap that was bland as bland can be in recent years. New management bought it up and renamed it Margarita’s. I didn’t know any of this when I walked into the main lobby. What did I know? It was covered with Mexican style blankets across the ceiling and bright murals of  water and beach scenes on the wall, they gave out free chips (it wouldn’t be a proper Mexican place if they didn’t) and the bartender liked soccer.

I ordered to go (which meant no free chips for me) a vegetarian burrito without cheese or sour cream, refried beans and yellow rice. I was a little concerned after my last hospital foray netted me some beans with bacon so I checked to make sure everything was kosher before I headed back to the hospital. This freaked the waitress out a bit but I assured her everything seemed up to par (yes, a waitress that cares!). Taking the cheese and sour cream off of a burrito isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes this causes it to fall flat on its face (just ask that one taco place I stopped at during my taco war days). But Margarita’s version of a vegetarian burrito translated wonderfully to veganization. I mean it was actual vegetables, fajita style, wrapped in a tortilla. This was a great idea (one I first learned from Chipotle of all places).

The burritos (I failed to mention that burrito in Spanish, or at least the dialect spoken at Margarita’s, must loosely translate into two because I received a double dose of vegetable goodness in my tin) were filled with sauteed onions, peppers, broccoli, zucchini and peppers. And…well, that’s it. To be fair, they were also covered with fresh salsa. While I loved that they were almost all vegetables, it was a bit of a downer that they stopped there, because they needed something more. Thank goodness they came with that side of rice and beans. I opened the tortilla, spooned in some of the beans and rice and everything was perfect. Except for the cilantro in the salsa. But hey, everyone has their faults.

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Vegetarian Burritos and Rice

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My tin of refried beans

I’m not going to suggest Margarita’s is anything amazing because it isn’t. Their menu isn’t extraordinary or inventive like the Taco Bus or the defunct Viva La Frida, instead they bring your traditional Mexican restaurant ticket items. You won’t leave talking about how the food was the best you’ve ever had. You also won’t leave remembering it as the worst. Sometimes, in a world of fast food and empty chili bowls and blood pressure machines, that is exactly what you want.

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sure, sure, it takes place on the desolate coast of Brazil, which is far away from Mexico. That doesn’t mean that “Tereza” by Trails and Ways isn’t worthy of a good Mexican meal. The single falls closely on the heels of their last release “Como Te Vas” that came out last week. “Tereza” is the final single on the band’s Trilingual EP.  The band is supporting this EP on a June tour of select US cities. Are the playing near you? Find out here.

I have also been doing a lot of Bridges and Powerlines recently (appropriate as this hospital is stationed at the bottom of a bridge and their single “Bushwick” starts with what sounds like baby voices). The band has a new album Better which features guest appearances by members of Bon Iver. They sing a style of jittery fuzz pop which the band suggest is a combination of Wolf Parade and Guided by Voices. I would say it is a style of music that translates to drinking parties on the hospital roof where security guards deteriorate into sleazy mechanics that hit on your sister and voluptuous ladies use electronic door jambs as their dancing poles. Put your bottle of formula as high as you can and repeat after me…”Bushwick”, “Bushwick”, “Bushwick”…

Apple would prove brilliant to use this video to sell their products:

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