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Opinions on a $11.00 House Margarita at El Sarape in Blue Bell

g
greggorylane Jun 5, 2010 06:09 PM

Let me start by saying I have no problem paying $11.00 for a nice glass of wine or an oversized dirty martini with plenty of olives. However, I did not feel compelled to qualify the price of a house margarita from a restaurant decorated with butcher paper table tops located in a strip mall in Blue Bell.

Don't get me wrong the atmosphere was very nice and my food was very good but my two house margaritas cost just $4 less than than my center cut filet mignon entree. I know the old saying about if you have to ask you probably cannot afford it but I did specifically ask for a basic margarita because I did not want top shell. After a discussion with the waiter who apologized for the pricing I spoke with the manager. The manager said they they do not believe in cheap tequila, that they have a margarita menu which I should have asked to see it and that Blue Bell does command the same price as downtown.

I am curious about what other people think? Perhaps I have the wrong idea about what mixed drinks should cost in the burbs. There was nothing special about my drinks and if I was told the house drinks were $11 dollars I would have ordered a differently. I will never go back there again and I hope to give others a heads up.

  1. c
    Chefpaulo Jun 5, 2010 06:33 PM

    My first question is the size of the drink. I've had Margaritas served in teensie pony glasses (remember Johnny Cross just up the road?) and have also had small swimming pools of rich tequila and freshly squeezed complements on a glass stem that had me wishing for a designated driver after two sips.

    The Margarita is probably more open to interpretation than any other mixed drink. I welcome your discussion, Hounds. But thanks for the heads up.

    CP

    1. AmblerGirl Jun 5, 2010 07:01 PM

      Well, I do not think that it is a question of center city vs. burbs pricing, I think that is expensive anywhere! That said you should go asbout a half mile down the road to Tamarindos where margaritas are always free. And they probably do use cheap tequila there but who cares its free!!!!

      1 Reply
      1. re: AmblerGirl
        s
        spicemistress Jun 5, 2010 08:36 PM

        I agree with AmblerGirl, I just got back from Tamarindos where I shared an appitizer with my sister and had a wonderful chicken with Mole and their free margaritas!! A great night out for $24 including tip!!

      2. g
        givemecarbs Jun 5, 2010 08:28 PM

        John and I went there about three years ago right around this time of year. I was paying (ulp) and we were celebrating something or other. John had never had a margarita before and I was insisting that he try one. I did ask how much they were before I ordered a pair of them. Back then they were ten dollars each. I kind of regretted shooting my big mouth off but after telling the waiter I'd let him know in a minute, John and I had a quick discussion. I told John we could get the two drinks and split a nice appetizer or two or get dinner and get an iced tea or water. Of course we both decided we would rather have the big margaritas. :) We were seated outside and it was a lovely evening. It felt kind of surreal sipping the big drinks and looking out on the traffic ebbing and flowing with the traffic light . Key Biscayne it wasn't. John and I had a great time but we haven't been back.

        1. h
          Hungryin theBurbs Jun 6, 2010 05:54 AM

          I don't know about 'burbs vs. city, but $11 doesn't strike me as outrageous for a good margarita made from quality ingredients. I'm sure I've paid that many times for mixed drinks. I generally don't go out in the burbs because I enjoy the restaurants in the city more. My experience in general is that restaurants in the suburbs are priced similarly to the city, but the food isn't as good.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Hungryin theBurbs
            j
            JanR Jun 6, 2010 08:30 AM

            That's been my experience as well. Sigh.

            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs
              AgentRed Jun 6, 2010 10:37 AM

              "restaurants in the suburbs are priced similarly to the city, but the food isn't as good."

              Bingo! In fact some restaurants, like Ekta, actually charge more for the same item in their suburban location than they do in the city.

            2. i
              isadorasmama Jun 6, 2010 04:48 PM

              Even with top shelf tequila and Cointreau I think $11 is way overpriced for a Margarita. For comparison, the house Margarita at Distrito in the city is $10.

              2 Replies
              1. re: isadorasmama
                b
                barryg Jun 6, 2010 04:53 PM

                The house margarita at Distrito is Sauza Hornitos Plata tequila, and it's not that big. I don't know much about tequila. but I know that it's good but not top shelf, as they offer two "better' margaritas.

                1. re: barryg
                  AgentRed Jun 6, 2010 08:20 PM

                  Also, can i just say that bigger does not equal better. With cocktails, large glasses get warmer quicker and the ice dilutes flavors.

                  In general, I don't get this whole complaining about prices. If you think it's too expensive don't order it. If you're right, everyone else is doing the same and the resto will lower prices. If not, then someone thinks that drink/meal is worth that price, let them pay it and you can go wherever you think the prices match the food (which someone else may think is too expensive).

                  In this case you didn't know the price, but you should've asked what the price was before ordering. I don't mean to come off as hostile, I've made the mistake of ordering specials and then finding out they cost twice as much as everything else. But instead of railing against the restaurant, I just learnt my lesson, nowadays I ask the price before ordering - fool me once, etc etc.

              2. c
                cook262 Jun 7, 2010 03:16 AM

                My gut reaction was. "Whoa! $11 a margarita? What a ridiculous price!" But then I took a second and remembered that there are many many restaurants we've been to recently charging $10 and more for a glass of wine. The first time I saw that was at Estia, and I was taken aback. Only to quickly notice however that esp in the last year, many restaurants are charging those prices per drink...it's why we actually choose a BYOB as often as we can.

                Back to El Sarape, I have been to El Sarape (only once) at lunch and loved the food. We were handed a drinks list of some sort during our visit (we might have asked for it when we asked to see the dinner menu) and we did say to ourselves that those prices were higher than we wanted to pay unless it was a special event....but they did have some unusual tequilas, I recall. My SO and I decided after our visit that since we loved the food that we'd return for lunch again but wouldn't be into the dinner/bar scene there..

                1. j
                  jujuthomas Jun 7, 2010 12:17 PM

                  I don't see a problem. I have had their 'ritas and thought they were very good. I've been in for lunch and for dinner a few times and really liked the food and the atmosphere.

                  Personally, I don't care for the free 'ritas down at Tamarindo because the few times I've been there people were getting wild, and the place was very loud because of it.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jujuthomas
                    b
                    bonappetite Jun 7, 2010 02:58 PM

                    Have to say, I agre w/ juju, if a margharita is $10 at Distrito, what is the big deal about one dollar more. I do think i've had 'ritas for less, but $7-8 just the same

                    1. re: bonappetite
                      sockii Jun 7, 2010 03:59 PM

                      $7-9 is what I expect to spend for an "average" drink in and around the city: basic spirits, a little on the light side, maybe just a soda or sour mix, nothing too special. Nothing wrong with that, but, for anything over $10+ and certainly in the $11-13 range I expect a drink to be a cut above: better quality spirits and real care/uniqueness in the drink preparation. Don't mind paying that when the quality comes through, but, there certainly are some drinks I've had lately where I felt like "I paid $11 for THAT? Think I'll stick to mixing at home..."

                  2. t
                    truffles2 Jun 8, 2010 07:41 AM

                    Pricing aside, it sounds like the Manager's response was pretty arrogant. You should have asked for a margarita menu? How about the waiter should have showed it to you?

                    I do like the food there, but have always thought the place was expensive. May I suggest an alternative? I just discovered Salsa's. They have moved into the Montgomerville Mall where Ruby Tuesday's used to be. I'm not generally a fan of mall restaurants unless I'm shopping, but this is worth a visit. Great authentic food and very good service. All at very reasonable prices. The basic Margaritas are good, not great, but again reasonably prices. I haven't had the premium margaritas yet so maybe someone else could comment. In any case I highly recommend it!

                    1. s
                      sadiefox Jun 8, 2010 08:13 AM

                      You didn't say if it was any good or not. For $11, that margarita had BETTER be made with fresh-squeezed limes and top-shelf tequila. There had better not be any sour mix in there.

                      1. crazyspice Jun 8, 2010 03:06 PM

                        We were there a couple of months ago. I knew the Marg prices were on the high side. My husband totally enjoyed his filet. I left feeling meh. I ordered a salad and a couple of apps. I have mixed feelings about pricing in the 'burbs. On the one hand, if the resto is a spectacular experience, it is worth the price of admission. I feel this way about Honey in Doylestown. On the other hand, there are too many restos charging premium prices for slightly above average food. I know I will get slapped, but Dettera comes to mind. Their pricing across the board is very high. And what about the Martini menu prices? I am not a Martini person, but really. We seek out BYOB restos all the time. But that is starting to get boring. Well, for me anyway. When a server doesn't mention the price of the nightly specials, I feel compelled to ask. I've had sticker shock one too many times. Then I think: "Well, if you have to ask the price......", you know the rest.

                        Signed,

                        Confused and disappointed in the 'burbs

                        1. b
                          Betharu Jun 11, 2010 09:23 AM

                          I have frequented El Sarape on many occasions and think that their margarita's are the best around. Tamarindos - blah!

                          While pricey, they do run specials - I believe Wednesday is Ladies Night so we often go for Girls Nite Out (GNO) and get the discounted margaritas. Plus, the margaritas are large and strong - so one is usually enough!

                          I have never had any complaint with the staff or the manager. In fact, it is one of the those places where, after going a couple of times, they know your name and treat you like family. I've been on Cinco de Mayo where multiple shots of tequila for the whole restaurant are on the house and been "comped"

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