Tequila tasting at Antonio’s offers wide choices, is fun

| November 1, 2018 | 0 Comments

ANTONIO GUTIÉRREZ opened his original restaurant in 1956.

Angelenos tend to love their Mexican food, and Los Angeles is home to numerous fantastic options specializing in this regional cuisine, each serving a variety of styles from Oaxacan to Monterrey, Tex-Mex and more. At a recent Saturday dinner with our dear friends Dia and Ray Schuldenfrei, we decided, however, to let the tequila help us choose our destination.

With a website boasting a staggering number of tequila choices, including some home-made varietals of this agave-based liquor, we opted to head to Antonio’s.
This festively-decorated restaurant has existed on Melrose since 1970, although Antonio originally opened his restaurant in 1956.

After selecting a large semi-circular booth in the front area, not suprisingly near the bar, we each began by ordering a different margarita including the house, a Cadillac, a mango and a mezcal. For those who love a smoky finish to their tequila, the mezcal is your friend. But the house margarita finished first with our group of four as we found both the mango and Cadillac, made with Grand Marnier, to be a bit sweet for our liking.

Lest we find ourselves consuming merely a liquid dinner, we ordered the guacamole, a freshly-mashed avocado with a hint of lemon and salt. The simple plate was tasty and a perfect accompaniment to our beverages. The salsas were also house-made, and the chunkier salsa made with fresh onion, cilantro and jalapeno was a good complement to the guacamole and chips.

House-made choices

Prior to getting down to the business of ordering our meals, we previously had decided that — to adequately perform our tequila-tasting mission — we needed to sample all three of the house-made tequilas on offer. We discovered that the tequilas are not made in-house at Antonio’s, but they are hand-selected by management, including Antonio Gutiérrez himself, who, according to our waiter, tastes a variety of small batch tequilas sourced from Jalisco, Mexico, the state where the city of Tequila is located.

Tequila #1

We began by each sharing the silver variety, offered at $10 a shot. The bartender poured an extremely generous sample, and we were each able to take more than one sip of what we collectively found to be a smooth taste without the typical bite that one experiences with many popular, well-advertised brands in the U.S.

Realizing that a mere order of chips and guacamole was surely not enough to sustain our continued tequila-laden pursuit, we each ordered our entree, including the traditional molé chicken, a Yolanda’s special, the highlight being the chile relleno which is served alongside a taco and enchilada, a vegetarian tostada, and a meal consisting of sides, namely Spanish rice and ground beef. The latter was ordered by the only non-native Californian at the group, an East Coast transplant still learning the ways of our favored Southern California fare.

We all sampled the molé, lovers of which know is a spice-rich sauce, made often with up to 30 ingredients. For those who love this flavorful traditional dish, Antonio’s version is delectable, with a strong cinnamon finish. Ironically, the simple sides were collectively our next favorite items, the rice being very good, and not dry, as many versions often are of this staple, and the ground beef was flavored perfectly.

Tequila #2

With a few bites of our meals savored, we were ready for tequila #2, the reposado. At $12 a shot, this tequila is aged in an oak barrel for six to seven months, which creates an extremely smooth liquor.

Tequila #3

With margaritas and two healthy samplings down, we now were well on our way to feeling good, and we decided to jump straight in to tequila #3, the añejo. Aged one-and-a-half to two years, this caramel-colored tequila, not surprisingly, showcases hints of caramel and is a flavorful $15 option. Our tequila experience was heightened by a visit from the restaurant’s wonderful mariachi duo, each boasting a great singing voice, one playing the guitar, the other playing a not-oft-seen in restaurants bongo.

As our meal continued to serve as a lovely backdrop to what had become a night of tequila tasting, we decided to share desserts before voting on our favorite tequila selection. We shared one of each of their offerings, fried bananas, cheesecake and flan. Each was good, but the tequila was better, and we made sure that each of our very large shots of tequila was consumed, including a revisit to each one.

Decision time for our quartet, and the voting came down to Ray preferring the silver tequila, Jim and Amy the reposado, and Dia the añejo. We are pretty sure someone ordered a Mexican coffee, spiked with, you-guessed-it, tequila, as well as Kahlua, at the conclusion of this tasty, and enormously fun, meal, and we are sure it was equally delicious. However, after all that tequila, no one can say for certain. Next time we will try the Mexican coffee first.

By Amy and Jim Cuomo


Category: Entertainment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *