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Reviews > Margarita Grill

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06.05 Margarita Grill

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Big Portions and Big Flavor

After entering the driveway, one can choose from two restaurants that share the same parking lot, kitchen, and domain name: Chuck’s Steakhouse or Margaritagrill. In the mood for Mexican, we chose the latter and had the host show us to the cantina-style dining room where we were seated in a booth lit by a rustic metal lamp. If the abundance of sombreros and cacti isn’t enough to drive home the point, the room is also anchored by a huge wooden bull’s head, complete with ring in snout. This toro all but shouts, “You’ve left Massachusetts and are somewhere south of the border!”

Our waitress welcomed us with a basket of chips and a zesty salsa loaded with chunks of tomato. We scanned the menu and soon had our margaritas selected. I ordered the basic house version, frozen and mango-flavored. But no matter what flavor concoction you order, it’s served with a straw boldly planted in the center of its slushy goodness, wrapper coiled like a Christmas ornament. Attractive and refreshing ~ clearly this is a place that takes its margaritas seriously!

Along with the appetizer our waitress delivered a stern warning: “Don’t touch the dish, it’s HOT!” Of course, the one of us nearest the dish immediately grabbed it and quickly confirmed that the warning had been, well, completely called for. Originally I’d been doubtful that one appetizer could satisfy the three of us, but the Chipotle Chicken Crisp ($9) proved more than up to the task. The golden brown flour tortilla was layered thick with shredded chicken, spread with sweet chipotle BBQ sauce and topped with melted jack and cheddar cheeses. There was enough for delicious firsts, seconds and more.

Margaritagrill’s menu offers all the entrée sections one would expect in Mexican cuisine; there are plenty of Fajitas, Burritos, Enchiladas and combos. They also have some specials that bridge the divide to Chuck’s Steakhouse. Our choices confirmed that Margaritagrill is the place to bring big appetites. One guest ordered the beef Chimichanga ($12), a huge turnover deep-fried golden brown and packed with chunks of tender sirloin in rich dark gravy. It was surrounded by heaps of rice and beans then topped with scoops of guacamole and sour cream. Big portion, even bigger flavor!

The chimichanga’s bold flavor stood in sharp contrast to my other guest’s Seafood Quesadilla ($13), a big tortilla folded over and stuffed with “real” shrimp, flakes of white fish, cheeses, fresh tomato and scallions. Had there been any bottles of hot sauce on the table, this is one dish that would have received a firm shake or two. I wondered why the menu described the shrimp as “real;” has anyone started making faux-shrimp yet? These were the species found in those supermarket juice-glasses of shrimp cocktail ~ tiny little rascals.

My entrée, the Spicy Chicken Quesadilla ($11), was reaffirmation that Margaritagrill can make tasty Southwest cuisine. A flour tortilla was jampacked with jerk chicken, Monterey jack and cheddar cheese. Jerk chicken is a Jamaican method that “bakes in” the flavor of hot peppers, spices and wood smoke. The spiciness was tempered by dollops of chipotle sauce and sour cream. The portion was huge and I enjoyed it enough to cart home the leftovers. Margaritagrill has a winning formula going: Offer great service, great atmosphere and moderately priced, huge portions served piping hot. The cuisine is Southwest in design, Northeast in flavor. The result is gringo-friendly fun.

Margaritagrill
10 Prospect Street
Rt.20
Auburn, Massachusetts
508-832-2553
www.chucks.com