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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, December 2

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« No Such Thing As Too Much Duck Sharp knives and fresh greens »

Drink Sun May 23 2010

The Happy Margarita Summer Project 2010

Though it's not yet officially summer, this weekend's near-perfect weather convinced my friend Claire and me it was the right time to kick off our Happy Margarita Summer Project 2010. You, dear reader, are invited along as we tour Chicago's Mexican restaurants in search of the city's best margaritas.

How does one get to work on such a fun project? asked one of my Twitter followers. Well, friends, this is the sort of project one assigns to oneself. Lest you think we're a couple of amateurs, though, we've developed both categories and standards to which we plan to adhere as strictly as possible. (Disclaimer: We will be drinking margaritas.)

About the categories: We acknowledge that flavored, frozen margaritas have their place (who wouldn't enjoy a frozen strawberry margarita while lounging poolside?), but we realize they cannot be compared with the standard margarita. Likewise, some establishments aim to get you hammered, while others' raison d'etre is to encourage you to sip, savor, and appreciate the finer things in life. Thus, we've established four awards categories:

  • Best Tasting
  • Best Flavored
  • Most Obliterating
  • Most Artisanal

Likewise, we've outlined some rules to level the playing field:

1. Each of us will order the restaurant's standard margarita first.
2. Each of us will jot down our first impressions before verbally sharing our opinions with each another, thereby maintaining our distinct opinions.
3. The second margarita ordered is the taster's choice (i.e., deluxe, frozen, flavored, etc.)
4. We each will sample the others' second margarita.
5. After two margaritas have been consumed, subsequent margaritas will not be subject to judging.

Finally, we've decided upon some criteria for a great, standard margarita:

  • Fresh lime taste (ideally from fresh limes, but if not, from a quality sour mix.)
  • Even salt distribution on the rim
  • Good balance of citrus-sweet-tequila

Please let me know if we've overlooked a critical category or criterion. As you can see, we're taking this responsibility quite seriously.

And stay tuned this week for the results of our first outing, to El Tapatio in Lakeview.

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Rolls Royce pro / May 25, 2010 8:51 AM

Good luck trying to drink two at El Tapatio! The Rolls Royce margarita is pretty much guaranteed to win Most Obliterated!

Karin / May 25, 2010 10:20 AM

The margaritas at El Cid 2 in Logan Square are great - especially if you enjoy them on the back patio!

Peter Skosey / May 25, 2010 4:31 PM

I think most Margaritas are light on the tequila. That is to say they are too sweet and sour and not enough of the bite of tequila. that is why i prefer to drink my tequila straight.

Lee / May 28, 2010 10:38 PM

Peter -- you might like the margaritas at El Nuevo Mexicano on Clark by Oakdale -- my new favorite. They are smooth, not sweet and you can actually taste the tequila, the way a classic margarita should be.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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