If you didn’t catch my write-up on Margarita’s for the recent edition of NORTH Magazine, of course, you can read it here….
MARGARITA’S: A LOCAL LEGEND
Most any route you take in the Northland, you will pass a Mexican restaurant – or five of them – along the way. It seems they pop up in strip malls, former fast-food buildings, just about anywhere and everywhere. So when you find one that’s still thriving after more than 20 years in business you know there’s good reason.
The packed parking lot of Margarita’s on North Oak has become a familiar sight for anyone who regularly passes by. The Northland location opened in 1991, six years after the original restaurant on Southwest Boulevard. It was the second location for owner Larry Gromer and his partners, and now the the group boasts five locations across the metro.
Gromer sees the sometimes common line out the door as a key factor in making meals that taste great. He believes the more food you’re serving on a regular basis, the fresher the ingredients you’re putting on the plate which makes a superior dish.
Most of us can agree that part of the indulgent experience of eating Mexican is gorging your self on chips and salsa before the food comes. This often results in having just a few bites of your food and taking the rest home for tomorrow. Well I can tell you if this is one of your weaknesses, Margarita’s dishes reheat like a champ the next day.
So popular it’s carried at your local grocery store, Margarita’s salsa is thin, light and delicately seasoned with traditional spices and a hint of oregano. The chips are huge, fried up from locally-made corn tortilla halves. If you plan to indulge in appetizers beyond the house salsa, skip the guacamole and go straight for the Margarita dip. This creamy, white cheese dip is delectable with a slight kick of peppers, a touch of spinach and rich flavor that leaves you wanting more. It’s also used as a topper on some of the entrees making them customer favorites.
My top-rated dish at Margaritas is the #6 Cancun. The reason I initially ordered it was the similarity to a childhood dish I love called “burrito enchilada style”. But it went far beyond my expectations in both flavor and texture. The Cancun is large flour tortilla filled with a delicious mixture of ground beef, tender pork chunks, sautéed tomatoes and, scrambled egg. Yes, the scrambled egg seems odd, but it really rounds out the dish nicely. All of this is topped with Margarita’s outstanding enchilada sauce – another product bottled and sold. I’m a big fan of their enchilada sauce. I actually used it in recipes before I started dining in the restaurant. If you’ve got a dish calling for enchilada sauce, don’t get a can – buy the good stuff in the jar, made by Margarita’s.
Okay, back to the Cancun dish! It’s a wonderful change from my usual orders of fajitas or a chimichanga at Mexican restaurants. That’s because the filling brings together components that are already delicious by themselves. Margarita’s pork is wonderfully succulent and tender. It’s hand-cut then sautéed with garlic and tomatoes. Tucked among the simply seasoned ground beef and the scrambled egg, finding the “perfect bite” is easy to do.
Another fundamental fixing at Margarita’s is the shredded beef. Whether you order it in tacos, a burrito, or one of their specialties, you won’t be disappointed. The savory, juicy meat is not overly seasoned but stands up well with any preparation. I had it simply dressed as a traditional taco and it was phenomenal. Next time, I will order it in the chimichanga to make the already sumptuous fare even more indulgent.
“Nine out of ten people who come in here know what they’re getting before they walk in the door,” Gromer said. He feels consistency and service are the reason his customers keep coming back.
The menu has stood the test of time, with most of it unchanged since the restaurant opened. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing new. Margaritas on North Oak and the store in Lenexa are now open for breakfast on Sundays. They serve up top picks like Huevos Rancheros and Chillequilles as well as pancakes, omelets and other more traditional items. If you go for breakfast, don’t be shy about ordering one of their outstanding house margaritas before noon. They taste just as wonderful in the morning – a lesson I learned when I sat down to talk with Gromer recently and was served one just after 10am.
I can see why they keep winning awards for “best margarita” in various local publications. I’m quite picky about my margaritas. It can’t be too sweet or too acidic. It can’t be weak or too salty. So I was surprised when the house margarita was spot on and soon gone! Just what you want from a place that goes by the name “Margarita’s”.
7013 North Oak Trafficway
Kansas City, MO 64118
(816) 468-0337 (Phone)
Or check out any of their five metro locations.