Batalla de Blake St.

As one matures, it is a natural progression to move on to the finer things in life. You might say, “I no longer drink PBR ‘since I moved up like George and Weezie'” (Willard Christopher Smith, Jr 1998). Well, we are all guilty of drinking PBR, even if we have to wrangle that pinky finger back in when we shotgun a tall boy. And most of the time we enjoy it, because it gets us drunk. On the economical. This week, we will examine two of Denver’s finest establishments that specialize in cheap, strong, punch-you-in-the-liver margaritas; Rio Grande and De Corazon.

Located on Blake Street, literally across from each other, are two Mexican restaurants. One has become a popular go-to margarita destination for Denverites, the other- I heard had good food, decent margs, and is less crowded. Not entirely convinced of the Rio’s draw,  I decided that there needed to be a showdown of sorts, to see how each margarita stood up against the other. So I woke up from my siesta, threw on a poncho, and downtown I went.

As the rule goes with any bar in LoDo, I stay weary of places that attract dudes with birds or feathers on their shirts. Free chips and salsa is a good remedy for this, so is a really strong drink. The atmosphere of the Rio Grande is exactly this, a touch of super douche in an obnoxiously loud warehouse that smells like carne asada- but again, we put up with these things because the drinks are cheap and stiff. Happy hour was founded on this very idea. The crowd favorite house margarita, likely mixed with a combination of grain alcohol and “gold tequila”, is served at a limit of three before you get cut off. For approximately 21oz of liquid (3 servings), I have to say that these margaritas are truly magically delicious™ packing that kind of punch. I left happily intoxicated for the time and financial investment. Overall score = 5/10
A few tasting notes: the margs were clear, with an apple juice hue. Decent salt job (I like mine salty, and dislike when there is little or no salt on the rim of the glass). The flavor profile reminded me of lime Kool-Aid Kool Bursts, oh yeaahh! And served with a perfect amount of ice.

Tales of long lunchtime waits made me a little nervous going to De Corazon for a few drinks after work. I was happy to discover a near empty restaurant with a friendly staff. To me, this place seems way more authentic. It is a bit small, but comfortable and inviting. The only thing missing was a Mariachi band and a few Three Amigos posters. Needless to say, I was impressed before I received a basket of chips- which happened on my way to the table. The special is the “Knockout” margarita. Limit four! Another breed of the grain-tequila family, these little kitties are no joke, either. For only three US dollars, it seems that my amigos at De Corazon are trying to one-up their neighbors in the happy hour category. I stuck around for a bit longer than I did across the street, only because I like the place better, drank all four of my allotted drinks and left richly hammered. No, I think I actually made money while I was there the drinks were so cheap. Seriously. Overall score = 6/10
Tasting notes: Visibly cloudy (as lime juice should be), essence of Squirt, and you can actually taste the alcohol- which is something I enjoy. Not enough ice or salt.

I think we have a clear winner, but you can decide for yourself.

*Bonus points for De Corazon scoring the phone number 720.904.TACO

About Jim Halligan

Jim is a modern day conquistador. When not teaching his three parrots to speak Italian, he spends time poking flags in things and calling them his own.

  • Ginger Pelz

    Three cheers for D’Corazon!

  • Hezness

    I totally agree – De Corazon is where it’s at. Better service, cheaper prices, and quite honestly I enjoy the food better, too. Rio is overrated and over-packed with the doucheness.