The Cuisine: Mexican
The Place: Las Margaritas
Written by Tess Gadwa
Photograph by Kim Hummel
Order a pitcher of margaritas alongside the sumptuous cerveche. Raw seafood marinated in sweet lime is served on a platter and beautifully presented amid slices of lime, avocado, and cucumber.
Celebrate your birthday here and you have the privilege of wearing a giant blue and silver sombrero, as we witnessed on a recent Saturday night. But goofy props and cheap margarita pitchers are only part of the appeal, if that sort of thing appeals to you. For years, Mexican food in Charlotte was limited to Americanized chain restaurants and no-frills taquerias. Las Margaritas is one of a few restaurants now occupying a middle ground. Relatively authentic food and friendly service make this place a favorite among Latinos and non-Spanish speakers, twenty-somethings and families with children.
Booths line the cheerful, spacious blue and yellow interior, with banquet-style tables at the center. In addition to the regular text menu, a picture menu displays specialties from Jalisco, the owners' native coastal state. Chips are fresh, warm, and homemade, served with a thin but spicy red salsa and a milder, fresh chopped pico de gallo. The guacamole is only average, but the ceviche (raw seafood marinated in lime) is the best I've had in Charlotte—served on a platter rather than as a soupy cocktail, and beautifully presented amid slices of lime, avocado, and cucumber.
Tamales are another tricky category of Mexican food where Las Margaritas succeeds—the texture of the steamed pork and cornmeal is perfect, neither dried out nor mushy. Enchiladas with red sauce and green sauce, adobo pork tacos, and a massive, wet California-style burrito are all tasty. If you want something spicy, you may prefer camarones con chipotle, served in a dark and complex chili sauce. The only disappointment was the cheese enchilada (filled with an overpowering quantity of orange cheese).
What of the margaritas themselves? We found ourselves ordering a second pitcher. Enough said. I don't know if I could convince my friends to wear the birthday sombrero, but somehow I think we'll be back to Las Margaritas before too long.