Monday, January 31, 2011

Margarita's, Waterloo (and an Engagement Party)

Our friends Kathy and Kurtis got engaged over the holidays, and while we all said our congrats, their news got kind of mixed in with various Christmas events. As a result, many of us felt like we didn't have a proper opportunity to celebrate them and their news. So, once the holiday chaos was over a bunch of us got to planning a surprise night out in honour of the big journey down the aisle that is going to take place next year.

Despite hearing nothing but amazing praise for Margarita's restaurant in uptown Waterloo, I had never been there. Many of these rave reviews came from the happy couple themselves, so I figured it would be a good place to have dinner before heading to one of the numerous pubs and bars that line King Street in Waterloo.

I was a bit apprehensive about anchoring our party at Margarita's, as I know that seating is limited on busy Saturday nights and we had a party of about 30 people wanting to flood their restaurant and take up all their chairs. I called a week in advance and the staff didn't even question accommodating us - the girl I spoke to on the phone assured me that they would find a way to make it work.

Mango Margarita - word to the wise, these margaritas seemed to get bigger and stronger as the night progressed!

Not only did they take a reservation so large on a busy Saturday night, but they took a staggered reservation, with the bulk of us arriving at 7:30 and the couple of honour arriving at 8:00, so that we could surprise them when they walked in.

We got there around 7:15, because I wanted to make sure that everything was in order for when the guests started to arrive. I fully expected nothing to be set up yet and it would have been reasonable had it not been. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that not only had our tables been set up and sectioned off from the rest of the restaurant, but that they had done it so early (no doubt sacrificing prime dining room seating on a Saturday night).

Guests started to arrive and take their seats, and we realized we were short on chairs. Our waiter was on it, and spent a good deal of the early evening just searching the restaurant for spare chairs (something that was very limited at the time). When not a single chair remained anywhere in and around the general vicinity, he even offered to kneel and allow the stray guest a spot on his knee (this guy was so accommodating that I'm pretty sure he was only half joking). Instead, he managed to find not only another chair but another table, which he moved over to ours so that we would not be so crowded.

The couple of honour arrived around 8:15...I think they were surprised!

Margarita's allowed us to pretty much take over the restaurant on the busiest night of the week and the fact that we had so many people didn't hinder their service one bit. Once everyone was seated, our server immediately started taking drink orders. He was quick, efficient and extremely helpful in determining what us vegetarians could and could not eat. And he kept the drinks coming in a timely manner (absolutely integral in a party setting and unfortunately something many other restaurants are unable to handle in large groups).

Matt and Paul - pinkies up for girlie drinks!

Me and Tracy, waiting for our margarita and virgin daiquiri, respectively and listening to the amazing mariachi band!

Paul and the groom-to-be, with Dos Equis!

Me, the bride-to-be, and the amazing mango margaritas

Alright, let's get on to the most important part of a restaurant review - the food! Because let's face it, in the past I have been known to put up with seriously bad restaurant service if the food is good enough. Margarita's already had points for service, could they deliver with food too?

I'm glad I'm not the only girl that has to drape herself in napkin at restaurants in order to avoid unsightly spills. Which I end up managing to get all over the whitest part of my outfit everytime anyway.

What I am chowing down on up there and what is pictured at the very top of this blog entry is the vegetarian tacos, without cheese. While they have a ton of vegetarian options, the vegan options listed on the menu are admittedly quite limited at Margarita's. However, the server and the kitchen were extremely accommodating in veganizing for me (which for the most part means just removing the cheese and sour cream on the vegetarian selections). However if you are vegetarian, be advised that their rice is cooked in chicken stock and so you should ask to remove that too.

The vegetarian tacos (minus cheese) were amazing. And the guacamole is something I am fairly certain I am going to dream about for days to come. I am terrible at making guacamole - it always has too much or not enough cilantro and ends up a big ol' green mess that sits in the fridge for weeks before finally getting thrown in the composter. As a result, I really, really appreciate a good guac.

And when the time came to say goodbye to our new friends at Margarita's, there was not a single mistake on any one of our many separated bills.

So, thank you Margarita's in Waterloo for helping us celebrate our friends' decision to spend the rest of their lives together and for doing so in such an accommodating, friendly and enthusiastic manner. A special thank you to our server for playing Chair Hunter and for not once rolling his eyes at us (something I can guarantee you that I would have done...repeatedly.) Margarita's, without a doubt, get this This is Vegan: Seal of Approval and I highly recommend it the next time you're celebrating something (especially if it's your birthday - the band's version of Happy Birthday is wonderful!).

4 King Street North
Waterloo, Ontario N2J 2W7
(519) 747-7800

After our amazing dinner we headed across the street to The Duke for far too many pitchers of beer, which in turn resulted in me staying in my pajamas for all of Sunday.

Congrats, my friends!


Bliss Doubt said...

Mary, looks like a great party, and your friends are lucky to have you to plan it so considerately.

I am from San Antonio, so I can help you with your guacamole issues. Cilantro, onion, tomato and all that, should be dropped on top, or on the side. The best guacamole is avocado, lime juice and salt, all mashed together, and not too much lime juice, because it can interfere with the delicate taste of the avocado. Optionals are a little picante sauce, again not too much, and a little mashed garlic. Simple is best, and that's the way they make in Mexico too, except in Mexico they put in finely minced jalapeno that you can't even see, making it hot as HE**.

Mary said...

Thank you so much, that is a great help! I always end up with too much cilantro or too much lime juice...or not enough of something but I can never put my finger on what it is I'm missing. I like everything to be as hot as possible so I might take the Mexican route and throw jalapenos in my next batch too.

Niki said...

I love the picture of you chowing down, hahaha!

The party looked like it was lots of fun! I'm happy everything went off without a hitch.

Bliss Doubt said...

I feel compelled to add that "picante sauce" is not that Louisiana style pepper sauce in the tall thin bottle. I just mean salsa. Just guarding against regional variations in definitions.

Anonymous said...

just checked out your blog after stumbling upon it while googling vegan in KW.
Just so you know, there is another restaurant in town that has recently revamped its menu to include more vegetarian, vegan and raw foods- Marbles restaurant in uptown Waterloo! they have a facebook page and are worth checking out. I had their raw vegan lasagna and it was to die for!

Mary said...

Anon - thanks so much for the tip about Marbles! They have been really great about veganizing things for me in the past (been going there for years). I haven't been lately but I will have to stop in again and try that raw lasagna!

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