Home > Uncategorized > The Matador – 3/14/2011

The Matador – 3/14/2011


Location: 2221 NW Market St



Happy Hour:

4-6, 10-1

This time around J and I decided to have a real dinner at the Matador. We’ve had their great happy hour food but had never gotten around to eating dinner there. We chose a Monday not just because it’s our tradition to have a “nice” dinner on the 14th … our first date was on January 14th so we celebrate it on the 14th of every month with some fine dining … but weekdays tend to be a whole lot less “douche-tastic” at the Matador.

The Matador is an open, airy place with a long bar and hipster, Spanish-chic décor. Lots of iron, red draperyand bull-fighting posters. Their menu runs toward fancy Tex-Mex, not authentic but tasty with fresh ingredients. They have a huge selection of tequilas from $8 shots to one $100 shot. While their happy hour doesn’t include drink specials, the food is surprisingly delicious for the price ($4 and $5). The atmosphere during Friday and Saturday evenings does tend toward a singles meat market so we always go during the week.

The Service:

Our server was very friendly, knowledgeable and polite. She really liked the octopus ring J always wears so I think she paid special attention to us.

The Drinks:

J ordered the Bartender’s Margarita, Sauza Gold, triple sec, fresh lime juice, a float of cranberry juice and Grand Marnier, which was very good.

I had my usual, a Pomegranate Margarita, Sauza Gold, triple sec, lime juice and pomegranate juice with salt. Their pomegranate margaritas tend to be a bit sweeter than I like but it’s one of the better pomegranate margaritas in town.

The Food:

We ordered our favorite dish at the Matador for an appetizer, the Tex-Mex Spring Rolls, shredded chicken, corn, black beans and herbs wrapped and fried in spring roll wrappers with avocado-sour cream and sweet chile-sesame sauces. The spring rolls were awesome as always. Never greasy always fried perfectly with a great, ever so slightly spice. While I like the avocado-sour cream sauce, the chile-sesame sauce is my favorite with its honey sweetness followed by a spicy afterburn. Even the bed of cabbage, carrots and hot sauce that the spring rolls rest on merits attention for the freshness of the vegetables and the fact that we actually eat it.

For an entrée, J had the Carne Asada Fajitas, sizzling steak, onions and peppers with a side of tortillas, black beans, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo and guacamole. His opinion was that it was a good, tasty fajita that kept surprisingly warm throughout dinner.

I ordered the Beef Tenderloin Medallions, quick seared beef with blackening spice, port sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, tomato relish and seasonal vegetables. The blackening spice imparted a spicy bite that complimented the port sauce. The tenderloin was seared well with a nice pink center that reminded me of seared tuna but it was a little dry. The port sauce helped but not much. I really liked the garlic mashed potatoes, which were left a bit chunky with the skins mixed in. I could have done with a stronger garlic flavor though.

The seasonal vegetable turned out to be brussel sprouts. I don’t like brussel sprouts but I tried these in the spirit of giving them another chance. J described them best when he took a taste. “What I imagine a sweaty foot tastes like.” Enough said.

Since the Matador is one of the only restaurants I’ve ever seen offer it, as a dessert, we decided to each have a shot of Mezcal, a smokier relative of tequila that neither of us had ever tried. I choose Monte Alban and J ordered El Zacatecano Reposado. J described the El Zacatecano as almost liquor in its heft and smoky flavor. I tried a sip and found it spicy with a stronger taste than I like. My Monte Alban was much lighter with floral, piney flavor. Very different compared to tequila. A weightier taste almost like a good whiskey. I wouldn’t mind trying it again.

The Price:

Bartender’s Margarita: $8.00

Pomegranate Margarita: $8.00

Tex-Mex Spring Rolls: $8.75

Tenderloin Medallions: $17.95

Carne Asada Fajita: $15.95

Monte Alban Mezcal: $7.50

El Zacatecano Reposado Mezcal: $10.00

The Verdict:

The entrees were good if a bit over priced. The drinks and the appetizer were tasty and the mezcal was a neat, special occasion addition. I don’t think either of us is in any hurry to do a full dinner at the Matador again because of the price but we will definitely continue to go there again and again for their happy hour menu. The Tex-Mex Spring Rolls alone will bring us back.

Our recommendation, go for the happy hour and the margaritas but pass on dinner.

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