A while ago Waterloo got it’s first Mexican restaurant; the population has now doubled thanks to the restaurant Margarita’s in uptown Waterloo, at the corner of King and Erb. It seems to be aimed at the non-student crowd, as entrees are priced at about $15. I had some questions for the waiter who gave me some useful suggestions on the menu, and ended up getting two appetizers for about $20 after tax and tip. Overall it was pretty good, at least by Waterloo standards.

First I had tortilla soup: a chicken-based broth, with diced fresh mozzarella sitting at the bottom of the bowl, crispy tortilla strips on top, half an avocado nestled in-between, with sour cream and (Mexican?) oregano garnish. This gave me a run for my money by being really fun to eat — spoonfuls containing cheese and crispy tortilla and velvety avocado were much tastier than the sum of their parts. I see judges in Iron Chef America, Chopped, Top Chef etc sometimes playing with their food to get the optimal bite, and this is the first time in recent memory it happened to me. The cubes of cheese were not well-separated… they didn’t last as long as I would have liked since they usually got on top of my spoon in teams.

Second was a queso dip: Mexican cheese melted atop your choice of goodies. I was originally going to pick spicy chorizo sausage for the foundation layer, but then the waiter mentioned I could get both chorizo and mushrooms mixed together. This was good advice. The queso arrived in a little clay pot with house-made tortillas, and tortilla chips… I didn’t make full use of the chips since I had had them in the soup and as the free chips-and-salsa starter snack but the soft tortillas were perfect for tearing into chunks and filling with goodies.

The restaurant has somewhat of a bad review on urbanspoon, which I can relate to, since it’s pretty expensive for Waterloo. I also didn’t get any of the cactus-based dishes or margaritas they have to offer, so can’t speak for those. But if you and a couple of friends have a hankering for some melted cheese, this is the place to go.

Next up: I am going to Lausanne, Switzerland starting in mid-January… anybody know of a good Mexican restaurant there?


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