BY MEEKAH HOPKINS, SPECIAL TO B
PHOTOS BY BRIAN KRISTA, B
With Cinco de Mayo looming, there's a short list of spots that pull off decent south-of-the-border fare. Nobody hits the bull's-eye quite like Miguel's in Silo Point.
Atmosphere: Viva la Mexico! Don't let the skeletal swag intimidate you — that's owner Michael Marx's playful nod to the Day of the Dead. The bar, set up as a breezy outdoor courtyard, is warmly decorated with orange and Spanish tiles. On the walls hang souvenirs from Marx's travels. But none of this competes with the view across the water.
Drinks: As you peruse the extensive listing of traditional Mexican beers, tequilas and wines, make sure to order at least one margarita. The frozen sampler ($6) showcases all four of Miguel's iced varieties — mango, raspberry, pomegranate and tamarind. The tamarind, a sweet-and-sour blend of gold tequila, triple sec, pureed tamarind and Miguel's house mix of simple syrup and lime juice was tasty; I opted for a full-sized second helping (also $6). If you're into brew, consider a Beer-Rita — a salty mix of Tecate beer, Sauza tequila, orange liquor, lime and ice ($6).
Food: The menu presents a six-page odyssey of Mexican dining and a chance to brush up on your español. Francisco, our sever, told us to try the house guacamole, chunky and fresh (for two, $7; for four, $12). Ask for it with chopped garlic and tomato for the full experience. We ordered a small plate of chile relleno, a roasted poblano stuffed with cheese, flash-fried and served on red chile sauce ($8.50). While we were disappointed with the greasy crust, the sauce was a wonderful complement. For entrees, we split carnitas juvencio, chunks of pork, slow-roasted in Coke and served with beans, cilantro, onions, jalapeño, lime and warm corn tortillas (half-portion, $10; full, $16). They were tender and generous with cilantro. It worked well with our order of jicama y naranja ($8), a salad of jicama sticks and arugula, tossed with orange pieces and sprinkled with chile de arbol.
Crowd: A carefree blend of Silo Point residents in the dining room (the restaurant sits on the condo complex's ground floor) mingled with a boisterous college crowd watching fútbol on one of several TVs at the bar.
Bonus points: Miguel's list of Cinco de Mayo deals is too long to print here. Their festivities include six bar and restaurant areas to get you into the spirit of the day on May 5. Among the best deals? Sample all four of Miguel's house tequilas for $20; enjoy a yard of Dos Equis Lager or Amber for $7; or order a "whole hog" ($10), smoked and shredded. It comes with beans or jicama slaw and tortillas.
Bottom Line: The authenticity and sheer volume of menu options already has us hungry for seconds. After you make sure to bring money for a taxi, take a journey through the drink menu, one salted beverage at a time.
IF YOU GO
Address: 1200 Steuart St., Locust Point
Beer: Dos Equis Lager and Amber, Crispin Apple Cider, Chingona IPA, Agave Wheat and Lagunitas Pilsner, $5-$6; domestic and Mexican bottles, $3-$5
Wine: Sangria, $6; South American and Spanish wines, $5-$8 by the glass
Specialty drinks: Margaritas, Micheladas and Mexican sodas, $3-$13
Happy Hour: 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; $1 off all alcoholic beverages. De la Casa margarita, $4.50; 16 oz. Dos Equis Amber or Lager, $4; Miller Lite, Bud Light, Bud, Mich Ultra, Coors Light bottles, $2