Some days I really crave fresh Mexican food and it was on the fly that we recently tried our luck for a lunchtime fix at our local favourite Miss Margarita in Byron Bay. The planets must have been aligned that afternoon because most days when we are drawn to wander by the colourful Mexican cantina it’s full to its salted glass rim. During the Summertime especially, just when you’re absolutely craving a Mojito and some tasty Tacos, there will be a queue of sandy souls already ahead of you perched on the outdoor cushioned benches waiting for the next free table. But as luck would have it, we had timed our lunchtime well on this occasion, and there was a lonely little peacock blue table setting outside with our name on it.
In celebration of our luck at not having to join a queue (any excuse for a celebration!) we took a look at the drinks menu first. I should explain that Mr GFAF and I would actually be more than all right with joining the benchwarmers outside Miss Margarita to wait for a table as the food, drinks and experience are always great and you never have to wait that long. But there was no need to wait today so I kicked things of with a classic Margarita. Mr GFAF conceded it was the weekend therefore his customary abstinence from beer could be broken with a Mexican brew for sake of this review. The SOL beer was light in taste to match the spicy flavours to come while the Margarita was sharp, salty and lip-smacking. The drinks menu at Miss Margarita is really extensive. There is a selection of 12 Margarita varieties all made with 100% agave Epsolòn tequila. There are also cocktails, including non-alcoholic versions, soft drinks, beers, cider and wines by the glass and bottle. If you can handle something stronger, there is a Mezcal and Tequila menu including a Tasting Flight of different varieties to enjoy on your own or to share. Miss Margarita also has a daily happy hour between 5.00pm and 6.00pm with $10 Classic Margaritas and Mojitos and $5 Mexican Beer.
The lunch menu at Miss Margarita starts with fresh Mexican dips and corn chips and appetisers such as the trending Crunchy Jalapeño Poppers. Moving through the menu there are classic Mexican options such as Nachos, lightly toasted Quesadillas, soft Tacos, Deluxe Beach Burritos and summery House Salads. Many of the menu options are gluten free or have the option to be so and there are plenty of options for vegetarians. We ordered some lunch to share and as we sipped and watched the people passing along Jonson Street, the restaurant started to fill. We had definitely timed our run well.
For lunch I think it’s hard to go past the Miss Margarita Taco Deals which we usually order. The first deal includes two tacos of your choice with fillings like Mexican Pulled Pork, Chipotle Chicken and Shredded Oaxaca Beef plus a beer for $15. The second deal is any combination of three Tacos for $15. We declared the Bean Feast to be our favourite taco of the day featuring house black beans, chipotle slaw, ranchero relish, feta and jalapeños. We also ordered the Shredded Oaxaca Beef Naked Burrito, which is a plate of all the ingredients of a burrito – Mexican rice, chipotle coleslaw, pico de gallo, house black beans and cheese – without the flour tortilla. The dish comes with a side of crispy fried corn tortilla chips, which were delicious and great for scooping, as well as a dollop of sour cream. On past visits we have enjoyed several lunchtime Burritos as well which are always tasty and filling. To pimp up your burrito, if you dare, you can have it lightly fried as a Crispy Chimichanga too. If you’re on the run, takeaway options are available and there is a Kids’ Menu for Little Gringos.
The dinner menu at Miss Margarita is an extension to the lunch menu with the addition of oven baked Enchiladas and sizzling Fajitas served at your table on a hot plate with different grilled meat options such as Chipotle and Lime Char Grilled Chicken or Grilled Prawns and Chorizo. If you’re dining in a group of 4 or more can enjoy a shared banquet menu for $35 a head too, which is a great way to try a variety of dishes.
The décor and atmosphere at Miss Margarita is vibrant and colourful, just like the food. There’s hand painted Mexican tiles on the walls, imagery of monobrowed artist Frida Kahlo, cacti planters and desert flowers, bright furnishings, mariachi music and the sound of cocktails being shaken that all contribute to a happy and fun ambiance. The service is friendly and fast. There’s a relaxed vibe in the air, which may have something to do with the Margaritas and fresh sea air, but I can say that sitting in the cantina genuinely makes me feel like I could be on holidays just like the sandy passersby and I love that. For authentic Mexican food in Byron Bay make sure you call by Miss Margarita where there’s a seat with your name on it – even if it is with the benchwarmers for a few minutes – you won’t be disappointed.
MISS MARGARITA PRICES
Lunch: $8.50 (Chips and Dips) $22 (Grilled Prawn Salad)
Dinner: $8.50 (Chips and Dips) to $29 (Fajitas)
Drinks : Margaritas ($10 – $20) Tasting Flights ($17-$21) Cocktails ($15-$16) Non-alcoholic drinks ($4-$9)
Miss Margarita has a sister restaurant at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast too. www.missmargarita.com.au