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El Scorpion first look

Went there last night with my wife and two of her girlfriends. We had originally scheduled our reservations for their grand opening on Wednesday, which they had to cancel. As a result, they offered us a 50% discount on the entire meal. When we got there, we were greeted to a mostly empty restaurant that looked little changed from its predecessor, which is fine. Tuscan Steak was a fine looking restaurant. If some serious changes were made, I apologize, I was not a fan and did not dine there often. Decor was obviously new and we sat under a large picture of a jimador harvesting an agave piƱa.

On to the food:

Verde guacamole - limey then creamy, finishing with a fresh albeit slightly earthy taste. Their guacamole is very good.

Elote Asado - Corn scraped tableside and served with crumbled cheeses and lime and chiles. I thought it was a silly order for $7.00, but it tasted very good.

Regular Nachos - ton of flavor in these. Slightly smokey and charred complementing the cheese used.

Queso Fundido - pure cheese as advertised, though none of the grease you usually get. Tasted great with the pineapple pico de gallo they brought us.

Rajas con Crema - my wife loved this. Basically a light cream combined with some roasted poblanos. I think we were supposed to use the flour tortillas with it and combine with other things on the table, but we mostly dunked our chips into it.

Tacos:
Bacon, Camaron, Chorizo - I think the bacon was my favorite. Rich, intense, with an underlying aromatic note from cloves(?) (which I typically dislike). Excellent. The one I believe was the chorizo tasted very similar to my wife's Barbacoa taco.

Al Pastor - Interesting, a little sweet for me owing to the pineapple, but very good.

Both fish- I did not try but was told they were very good.

I wanted to order anentree, but sometimes when it's you and three women, it's best to make plans to come again.

We finished the meal with an incredibly custardy and not so sweet (if you're cuban) flan. It was very good, even if somewhat different to the one I am accustomed.

The bar here was great. I am not a huge fan of margaritas, as I find them somewhat boring, but ordered a cadillac margarita (pick your blanco, cointreau, lime juice). My wife had the gumption and wisdom to order a mezcal based drink, for which she was rewarded with a "Scorched Earth". For any cocktail nerds, this has no bearing on the drink by the same name by Gary Regan. What did come was an up cocktail with mezcal, reposado tequila, sparkling apple juice, __?__, and a flamed orange zest. It is a drink worthy of any NYC, Boston or DC bar. Clean interesting and sophisticated. This made me very happy.

When the bill came, they honored the offered discount on both food and drink. This was in keeping with our overall experience. As great as a restaurant's food may be, poor service easily ruins that, especially on the beach. Our server was happy, friendly and competent and the bussers were on top of all the tables the whole meal, clearing plates and bringing water.

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  1. i only had the verdi guacamole and a chili passion margarita and regular margarita and all three were sub par. guac was thin, watery and tasteless and the margaritas tasted like watered down tang. chips were from a bag. blah. bad first impression, so didn't feel the need to order more, especially after the people next to us said they were leaving their half eaten plates and going to taco bell! can't even blame on the fact that it's new because if a mexican restaurant's guac and margaritas suck, there's no excuse!

    9 Replies
    1. re: HabaneroJane

      I have to say my first experience there was so far removed from that, I do not know how to even address it. it was easily the best Mexican I have tasted in Miami, an haute answer to Cheen Huaye, far removed from the cheesy wasteland typically associated with TexMex and blowing disappointments Talavera and Rosa Mexicana out of the water. Then again, to have someone say they'll resort to Taco Bell is unfathomable. I definitely plan to go back, so I'll have to see if our experience or yours was the fluke

      1. re: Icantread

        ok let me know how your second time there is and then maybe I'll head back. But really, $15 for a watery margarita, and $12 or whatever it was for supermarket chips and watery, flavorless guacamole is unacceptable. Otherwise, I'd much sooner go to El Rancho Grande or Rosa even. Haven't been to Talavera and didn't realize it was a 'blowing disappointment'. You saved me a trip!

        1. re: HabaneroJane

          Seeing that you had completely different takes on El Scorpion, I wouldn't rule out making a visit to Talavera. I have heard plenty of good things about Talavera myself. Come on, you know better than to trust one opinion!

          1. re: Blind Mind

            You are right about that.

            To me Talavera was decent, but had sub-par rice and guac and somewhat high prices for what felt like a casual but nice Mexican spot. Margaritas were $8 and pretty good. What got me is when I left and barely eating I looked at the bill and thought "we paid how much for this?" The chicken was good, great sauce, small portion. The other dishes (a salad and I forget what else) were sort of passable. After dining there our group sort of felt like we'll keep to Jaguar.

            1. re: Icantread

              I've had pretty good experiences at Talavera. The lunch menu features a lengthy list of $12 lunch specials, of which the tacos de chilorio (with well-spiced pulled pork) have been my favorite, though the huarache with grilled chicken was also a good meal. I've also liked their guacamole (though I admit I am influenced by their decision to garnish it with chicharrones) and the couple of ceviches on the menu. The queso fundido with chorizo as a starter was also good on a cold day. Some of the lunch specials are smaller than others (the chicken tacos in particularly are a miserly portion).

              They've also perked up the salsas since my first visit when they were disappointingly mild.

              It is not a "blow your socks off" kind of place but it is a better than decent.

              1. re: Frodnesor

                Good to know, I will give it another shot for lunch then ($12 ain't bad at all). I confess to having enjoyed Don Chile more, in an "It is what it is" sort of way, though my expectations there were lower AND come to think of it one time I went to Talavera after getting a blown tire and the other was Christmas night, perhaps not the best of times to base my experience on

            2. re: Blind Mind

              You're right! I will absolutely go to Talavera.

        2. re: HabaneroJane

          I have to agree with Habanero, We didn't enjoy our experience much either. Thought the guacamole was good but the rest of our food was average at best. Chips were cold and come out in a bucket... thats fine if they're free but when you're paying for them, they should be better than that.

          Tacos were just soft tortillas with a few pieces of meat thrown inside, really nothing great... pretty much like what you would get at any fresh mexican type place. Our enchiladas were cooked so much that you couldn't even eat the outer edges (they cook them in a circle shaped dish / bowl).

          Employees were really odd, we arrived and there was about two other tables filled... most of the managers and bartenders were behind the bar drinking (tasting) tequilas. A lot of the "managers" were dressed in street / club type clothes, sleeves rolled up, basically just talking and playing around the whole time. I read that this place is run by Chodorow's son (guy who owns China Grill Management places), seems like they need some help.

          1. re: ClaudiaS

            how about the fact that El Scorpion has the nerve to charge for salsa!??? I refused. That's just obnoxious.

        3. Where is it? Would be nice to know.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Alfred G

            It's in the former Tuscan Grill space in South Beach, across from China Grill

          2. ah yes, south beach, the center of the universe. if no location is given, 99% of the time it is Miami/Dade.

            3 Replies
            1. re: andy huse

              I know what you mean. I over Miami myself. But I need to live in a city so Tampa has been a place I've considered moving to. The problem is every time I look for it it's nowhere to be found. Just a couple of intersecting highways. What's up.

              1. re: 2top

                haha. it is like anything authentic, you have to look for it. only bad culture comes to find us. it takes curious folks to search. that's what chowhounds have in common. Life in Miami or Tampa is what we make of them. I didn't mean to snap too hard, but with all the talk about being considerate and leaving a locatiion with our posts, i hoped we could enjoy our shared board as long as it lasts.

                1. re: andy huse

                  "it is like anything authentic, you have to look for it.
                  only bad culture comes to find us."

                  Good stuff!!