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Super Strong Margaritas at Tepatitlan

A friend whose advice is usually beyond reproach recommended that I head to Tepatitlan (55454 Southwest Freeway, 713-349-9681) for a good, old-fashioned Tex-Mex dinner as soon as I had the chance. He claimed it was "overlooked and underappreciated," in part because of its awkward location underneath the tangle of the Westpark Tollway and Highway 59 entrance and exit ramps.

I headed out one recent evening to check it out, a bit wary of a place that had been hiding in plain sight for decades. If it was good, people would have been going there anyway -- right? That idea holds true for Bubba's Texas Burger Shack, just up the street.

I might have to revoke my friend's advice card after a very blah dinner -- including sopes that tasted and felt rubbery, as if they'd been made far in advance and microwaved, along with the blandest chicharrones I've ever tasted -- except for one thing: the margaritas.

Served in an unassuming plastic glass, the margaritas at Tepatitlan were like a dizzying kick in the teeth, in the best possible way. The only other place in town I've tasted margaritas of this magnitude is when sucking down a glass full of blue-colored bad decisions at El Patio. El Patio has long claimed that its famous margaritas -- famous for their temerity and potency -- are not, emphatically not, made with Everclear.

I once worked at a Mexican restaurant in college whose claim to fame was the strength of its margaritas. On all of the menus and in the bar were notices advising patrons that there was a two-margarita limit per customer. And like El Patio, we claimed that the margaritas were not, emphatically not, made with Everclear.

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However, unlike El Patio (since we have no proof at all to the contrary), we were lying.

The entire staff knew what was in those margaritas. In fact, the staff consumption of copious amounts of margaritas after hours were probably responsible for the majority of my poor decisions made after work, like the time that I traded cars with one of the busboys "just for fun." After driving his rattling Jeep around campus for a while, I got my Toyota back a week later with nearly 1,000 miles put on it and a 7th grade girl's school ID in the backseat.

After just one margarita at Tepatitlan that Monday night, I was flashing back to long nights at that restaurant in dirty black pants and a white blouse, cuffs stained with cheese grease and the fabric saturated with that impossible-to-remove lard stench of refried beans. I burned all of those clothes after I quit. This margarita had me loopy. Thank God I was with someone who could -- and was, in fact, insisting at this point -- on driving me home.

Could my friend have sent me to Tepatitlan just for those major margaritas? That's the strangest part of all: He doesn't drink. But a larger mystery remains... Does Tepatitlan not use Everclear in its drinks? If not, what's in this mix that makes it so utterly intoxicating? More evidence must be examined *ahem* before anything can be proven conclusively.

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