Tia Margarita in the Outer Richmond

26Mar09

I love real Mexican food. It should come from a dirty taqueria or a truck, not a sit down restaurant with a waitstaff. Burritos should be served right off the grill wrapped in foil for $5, not served on a plate with a knife and fork for $15. Mexican food is honest, and should be served as such. 

These are the reasons why I choose to never go to any sit down Mexican restaurants. But, keeping an open mind and trying new things are my forte, and I was pleasantly surprised when I was introduced to Tia Margarita in the Outer Richmond.

My first thought was, “Great, another mediocre Mexican restaurant with overpriced burritos on a plate. They better have good margaritas!”

It’s a very cute and homey restaurant located in a residential neighborhood in the Outer Richmond, at 19th and Clement just off Geary. The interior is dominated by a huge U-shaped bar in the middle of the room, and is surrounded by booths. There is another room in the back with more tables and seating. We took a seat in a cozy booth right by the bar, and I scanned the menu. It’s everything you would expect, and the prices are actually pretty fair. Not $1.50 tacos out of a truck fair, but relatively compared to other sit down Mexican restaurants I’ve been to, such as Celia’s.

The friendly waiter brought us warm chips and two types of salsa, a spicy green salsa and mild red salsa. It weirded me out at first because green salsa is usually the mild one, but it has a very nice kick to it. After looking over the menu, I went with a shredded beef chimichanga and she went with beef enchiladas, and two margaritas on the rocks. One single, one double. 

The margaritas came out first, and they were very good. Thankfully they make them with fresh lime and quality tequila, none of that bottled lime juice and sweet and sour garbage. It came served with a straw in a margarita glass, and that weirded me out too, so I ditched it asap. The server actually handed me the double margarita, and I had to look like a bitch and say it was for her.

After being emasculated by ordering a single margarita, our food arrived and it looked incredibly good. My preconception of it being a typical mediocre restaurant were quickly subdued once I dug in. The chimichange was crispy and flaky, and the shredded beef was moist and seasoned perfectly. Topped with sour cream and fresh guacamole, I found myself enjoying it thoroughly. It was also served with the requisite rice and beans, of which you can have your choice of refried or black. Everything else was good, including the beef enchiladas. I was very satisfied, especially since the bill came out to only $38 including two margaritas, one of which was a double! I would say Tia Margarita is one of the better sit down Mexican restaurants, simply because they are reasonably priced and the food is pretty good. But I always say, “It’s really hard to mess up Mexican food.”

It would be a perfect place if you’re with some friends in the neighborhood and just want to enjoy some homestyle Mexican food over a few fresh margaritas.  However, if I am ever in the need for Mexican food (which is often), I most certainly would go with my usual route and head over to a local taqueria instead. Not because the food isn’t good at Tia Margarita (it is!) but because I like my food cheap, good, and honest, and you get that from places with a sizzling grill right next to a ringing cash register right next to a big jar of horchata right next to a sticky table top. 

Tia Margarita
300 19th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 752-9274
http://www.tiamargarita.net/

Also check out:
Lolo Tapas and Wine Bar in the Mission

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