A Second Taste: Trying Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar Again

nicos-alpha-invertOkay, so it’s been 2 1/2 years since I first tried Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar on their “soft” opening. Wow. Has it been that long? Every time I passed it, I swore I wouldn’t go back. As we were standing in line behind all the bachelors at Chipotle, my favorite and only “fast” food place, my partner and I looked at each other and pondered giving Nico’s another chance. Heck, they’ve had plenty of time to work out the bugs, so the food must be better. I’ll have to say that I was very impressed by the changes.

We started out with a Tecate, which is not a very common beer to find in local Mexican restaurants. The Mexican beer list was quite extensive. I’ll have to come back to try one of the many tequilas. Next, the trio of salsas took some deciding, among the available six, including: Pico de Gallo, Roasted Tomatillo, Chile de Arbol, Chile Serrano, Ancho Narranja and salsa Verde. I opted for the Roasted Tomatillo, Chile de Arbol and the deliciously spicy and “creamy” salsa verde. And here I thought that cream had been added, but it’s all on account of the whipped avocado.

tacosTwo orders of tacos came next; two vegetable and one camaron. Arroz and frijoles came with the tacos. I was happy to discover the soft corn tortillas, instead of the typical hard-shelled gringo tacos, accompanied by sauteed squash, red bell peppers and charred corn. The shrimp taco had sauteed garlic, chile de arbol, black pepper and lime served on a flour tortilla. The tacos were very good. The only thing I would change would be to have corn tortillas instead of flour for the camaron tacos.

It did take me a while to get back to Nico’s Taco and Tequila bar, but I’m glad I gave it another chance. The “soft” opening is all but a faded memory. I look forward to stopping next time and not just walking by.

Bland Mexican: Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar

Okay, I know it’s not fair to review a restaurant on its first day, but hopefully it will be more helpful than hurtful. I was sad to see the Birdhouse leave after such a short stint, but happy to see that a Mexican restaurant was swiftly moving in, with an emphasis on “tequila bar”.

We sat down in the new chairs and anticipated the spicy food and special margaritas. As I scanned the menu, I realized that it was probably thrown together very quickly, on account of all the typos. No big deal. It’s their “soft” opening and all the bugs will work themselves out over time. Our server greeted us immediately and talked about some key items on the menu. This attentive, sincere service was not expected, given the fact that this new Mexican venture was owned by Amore Victoria. Even though she pronounced the “lls” in tomatillo, I still thought she was very charming.

We ordered the house margarita and the special blood orange margarita. Our server reassured us that it was a “house-made” sweet and sour mix. It really was quite mediocre. My partner’s blood orange marg tasted like a suped-up lemonade. I’d stick with a safe Sierra Nevada or a more expensive tequila. By the way, most of their tequilas are blanco and cheap, if you know what I mean.

Then came the guacamole in a machine made molcajete. It was simply bland, made with mashed avocados and not so ripe tomatoes. What happened to the serrano chiles and fresh lime juice?! The salsa verde, with chips, was definitely from a jar and the chips had no flavor. I swear there were a few stale ones in there too. We both ordered batter fried cod tacos and shrimp tacos on flour tortillas. Our server must have seen us make a face because she came back immediately with two surprisingly spicy salsas.

I really hope they get it right at Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar. They have a lot of competition that could very well wipe them out. I’m not sure I would go back for the food until then. For now, I only wish that I could have the same server at a better Mexican restaurant.