Food Original: Macayo’s Debuts Jalisco-Style Tableside Margaritas, a Valley of the Sun First

By Editor May 10, 2016 09:12

By: Brian Garrido

On research and development outreach in Guadalajaura, Mexico (the country’s second largest city), Macayo’s CEO Sharisse Johnson and the Director of Marketing, Brand Management, Ashley Negron were seated at Las Casas de Los Platos, a popular eatery serving Mexican cuisine. Each ordered a margarita. A cart was wheeled to them, and the popular cocktail was made right at the table.

“(Our margaritas) were made tableside and had that fresh feeling,” says Ms. Negron. “We immediately wanted to bring it into our beverage program. Everyone does tableside guacamole, but not margaritas.”

Over the years, the group of family owned restaurants was seen as a 1950s version of Mexican food – good and solid, but consisted of refried beans, yellow rice and orange cheese. Enhancing that narrative, Macayo’s was rumored to be the birthplace of the deep-fried burrito, the chimichanga – a foodstuff personified as Mexican gone American. Macayo’s was originally founded as  in downtown Phoenix by Woody and Victoria Johnson. Woody’s mother was Mexican-born, and thus the special kind of cuisine ran through his blood.


Las Casas de Los Platos in Jalisco, Mexico / Photo Credit: Macayo’s


In the twenty-first century, Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen is slowly undergoing a full-body sculpting –specifically at it’s North Scottsdale location – and is becoming a culinary force in the south of the border cuisine, closely honoring Mr. Johnson’s madre. This location is the restaurant company’s test kitchen and has a slightly different name, Macayo’s Mexico Grill & Cantina. Since January 2016, the culinary makeover has been overseen by Chihuahuan-born Chef Luis Martinez, a Macayo’s veteran for more than twenty years. The new menu includes deep fried shrimp tacos served in a jicama shell, Mexican street corn, esquites-style (off the cob), drizzled with a Jalisco red pepper sauce, green pork chile stew and the aforementioned tableside made margaritas, a Valley first (if not a first in the entire southwest and maybe the US).

Ms. Negron says, “We’ve been testing (the tableside margarita) since October 2015. We wanted to ensure consistency of the beverage experience which is why it’s only served at Shea and Scottsdale.” Plans are to incorporate the margarita cart at all fourteen locations. Its second Valley appearance will be at Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen in Mesa at the beginning of June.

Like many of the higher-end cafes making the Mexican libation in Jalisco (tequila’s birthplace), the items are trundled out on a Macayo’s Mexico Grill & Cantina wooden bar cart –  including the liquor, salt, glasses, ice, housemade citrus soda (Ms. Negron calls it, “…our housemade Squirt.”), fresh cut limes and is all crafted in front the guest.

Once at the table, the server offers to make drinks for the guests, or a pitcher if asked. Currently, there is only one type of tequila served from the cart, which is blanco; but upon request, they offer another agave version such as an anejo or reposado. The brand is also swapped out on a monthly basis. Dexterity on the server’s end is needed, not only being a good bartender and waitperson, but also a good conversationalist. There’s no rush in the handcrafting of the national Mexican drink, with the squeezing of fruit, and the salting of the rim. However, it’s a fun experience; and once the cocktail is made, it’s refreshing. The cost is $34.00 for a pitcher that serves six, or $8.00 for a single drink. A non-alcoholic version is also available. The Macayo’s margarita wagon is maneuvered outside and served only from the South patio which has a water feature from Friday through Sunday, only after 4:00PM until closing.

Macayo’s really has upped the ante for a true South of the Border experience in Arizona.

By Editor May 10, 2016 09:12

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