Who makes the best margaritas in town? If you've patronized a Tex-Mex place or three, you will probably have several choices in mind. As with any selection of this kind, several guide rules are in order. One: The establishment should feature a good selection of premium tequilas. Two: Margaritas must be made with loving care; for instance, if you want a frozen version, the mix should be prepared fresh each day. In my research, I was surprised how many places use the same mix day after day. You can really tell the difference. Three: In my case, a great margarita should be bracing, like a Trader Vic's Mai Tai, not sweet. You should taste lime and orange liqueur, but the tequila should be showcased. Salted is preferred, although I've had some compelling margaritas made with a touch of pepper or other spices. Luckily, my lovely wife the Rock Star shares my taste for truly tantalizing tequila tipples, so it was with high hopes that we set off to Red's Patio Grill one dreary noontide.
Atmospherically, Red's has the whole Hill Country look down pat. Enough polished wood to stock a CEO's palatial corner office. Plenty of genuine Central Texas stone. Inside, fireplace and bar take center stage, sandwiched between cozy booths and tables. A smallish inside patio, but a much larger outside patio overlooking a fountain. In short, if you love the scene down around Fredericksburg or New Braunfels, you'll love it here.
Scanning the menu for suitable libations, we saw again one of our favorite reasons for coming here: Red's features tequila flights. Whether blanco, anejo, or reposado is your agave of choice, they have more than 100 varieties here. However, we were in full Margaritaville mode today, so my wife began with the margarita of the day, the Don Valente, while in the interest of completeness, I started with the basic frozen variety. Both were well made and properly bracing, but my spouse detected some off-flavor in hers, and after trying it, I must confess I couldn't identify it either. The drink was still quite good, however. From experience, we know that any meal at Red's should commence with the Double Cheese Potato Cakes. Savory with a touch of crispness and sharpness, these cakes made me wish that all establishments fared as well with their potato dishes. My bride has enjoyed the Cowboy Meatloaf and the Montana burger on past occasions, so she decided to branch out a bit and selected the Cuban. Better than a mere chain shop sandwich, this Cuban boasted Cure 81 ham, bacon, Havarti cheese, arugula, and mustard, and she was so impressed that she made for our local grocer's deli that very day to stockpile ingredients to make them at home. For me, Red's chili is a genuine Texas bowl of red, literally invoking the ghost of Frank X Tolbert with its rich Montana-Legend beef, red onion, jalapenos, cheddar cheese, and a side of corn chips so you can make your own Frito pie if you so desire. After such a meal, we decided on the perfect dessert: Caborita and El Corazon margaritas, a bit pricey to be sure, but when they're made with such care, well worth the price.
Taylor and Jill provided us with high quality tag team service, deftly taking care of us and the large party one table over. Red's has recently been sold and you can access their new website at www.restauranteur.com/redspatiogrill; the old URL http://www.redspatiogrill.com/ works as well.
So, who makes the best margaritas in town? For my money, Red's Patio Grill does, and is one of the best-kept secrets in the city to boot. Find your Hill Country hangout soon, and remember:
LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!