I had heard about Espino’s Mexican Bar and Grill through some radio advertisements. I also found out that this restaurant had been featured on the TV Show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. So clearly I was excited to visit and try their food and, of course, Margaritas. Given that their location is about 45 minutes away from where I live, it took me awhile to finally get the opportunity to stop by. Given how long I had been hearing about Espino’s, I was super excited to see what kind of Margaritas they had to offer and so I planned to give myself enough time to sample a few. They did have a variety to choose from, so I did end up sampling 3 different kinds.
The first was their Top Shelf Margarita. I skipped their House Margarita because it was made with Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila, which I know is not a real tequila, as it is not made with 100% pure Agave. The fact that an authentic Mexican restaurant would use an alcohol that is not considered tequila in Mexico was a little red flag for me, but not that much to concern me at first. The menu listed the ingredients as Espino’s Private Label of Maestro Dobel Tequila, Grand Marnier, Agavero and “Espino’s secret recipe”. Oooooh! Private label tequila! And a secret recipe! I was really excited to taste this Margarita!
I was sitting at the bar and the bartender was a friendly older Hispanic lady and she sort of reminded me of some of the Costa Rican ladies in my family. I ordered the Margarita and waited with anticipation as she started making my drink. I figured a Top Shelf Margarita at a classy place would take a little time to make so I wasn’t in a hurry. Interestingly enough the drink was made very quickly, which worried me a bit. Additionally, the look of the drink made it seem like it was made with a mix, so I suddenly was anxious about what I was about to taste. Unfortunately, my concerns were valid. The drink was fine, but it wasn’t anything great. It tasted pretty much like an average Margarita from an average Mexican restaurant. I was expecting more, especially from a Top Shelf Margarita from a classy place. Whatever Espino’s secret recipe is, it is not really anything special, unfortunately. At best I can give the Top Shelf Margarita from Espino’s a 7. And that might be pushing it. More like a 6.5 if I’m grading it as a Top Shelf Margarita.
After that disappointing experience, I was a little apprehensive about trying some other varieties, but I soldiered on. I mean, even an average Margarita is still a good time, right? So next up I tried their Wabo Rita. The ingredients for this Margarita were listed as Cabo Wabo Reposado Tequila, Blue Curacao, and Espino’s Recipe. Maybe this recipe wasn’t so secret? At least I figured that Cabo Wabo is a good tequila and Blue Curacao is a good flavor as well. As expected, the Margarita had a blue tint to it, as one would expect from a drink with Blue Curacao. Unfortunately, the taste of this Margarita was simply put, rather bland. Not much happening here. It wasn’t a bad tasting drink, it just didn’t taste like much. I’m not sure what happened here. Maybe it was just not made well, or maybe there was a problem with the mix, or maybe the Blue Curacao wasn’t a great choice as the primary flavoring, but I just really can’t give this drink more than a 5.5.
Finally, I decided to try Espino’s Skinny Margarita. Not that I was worried about my figure, but rather the listed ingredients were Código 1530 Rosa Tequila, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar with a splash of club soda. I figured that maybe skipping Espino’s Secret (or not-so secret) Recipe and getting fresh lime juice with agave nectar would finally give me the Margarita that I was longing for. Certainly given that the ingredients were very similar to my own standard recipe, I held out hope that this would finish off my experience on a high note. Unfortunately, the flavor was not what I was expecting. For a Margarita supposedly made with fresh ingredients, the flavor reminded me of a mix. I honestly can not explain how fresh lime juice could taste like it did other than perhaps the lime juice wasn’t actually fresh. It was almost like tasting the lime juice out of a bottle. If you’ve never tried lime juice out of a bottle, it might work for using it in certain food recipes, but the taste is certainly not the same as fresh squeezed lime juice. It has a very processed taste and does not work well in a Margarita. I’m not sure if this was the case with Espino’s Skinny Margarita, but my experience ended the same as it began. Another disappointing Margarita. A 6 at best.
Espino’s listed a Millionaire Margarita that I was considering trying when I first saw it on the menu. But after 3 disappointing Margaritas, I did not want to spend $35 to be disappointed again. So maybe in the future I will consider trying this version. But not on this day.
The good news is that while the Margaritas were disappointing, the food was very good. I’d certainly come back for the food when I’m next in the area and I’d be willing to try the Margaritas again, just in case perhaps the bar had an off night.