As the barman vigorously muddles jalapeno chillies in a glass I see a look of anxiety on my gay wingman’s face. It serves him right – I asked him twice if he was sure he wanted me to order the jalapeno margaritas and, as usual, he nodded his head without having heard me at all.
Then again, as I stand at the bar counter of Tio’s Cerveceria, a Mexican-themed small bar that looks like it ought to be in a small Mexican border town rather than Surry Hills, I probably look anxious myself. After all, a crazed-looking woman has sidled up to me at the bar and started talking about god knows what – and while the old me would have leapt on her without a second thought, my new year’s resolution is to stay far away from women (especially the crazy kind) and be faithful to my cat. After all, you can only have one true love in life, and mine is feline, vicious and faithful.
As soon as the jalapeno margaritas arrive we pay and bolt from the bar to the back wall, where candles are burning in a tiled arch in the adobe-coloured wall with melting wax dripping onto it. The décor here has a retro-meets-South-American–antique feel, if that makes any sense at all, and I particularly like the dark green shutters on one wall.
Although you can wedge yourself in at the bar counter, which is packed on the weeknight I’m here, most of the seating is at the tables and benches. However, this is a bar and not a restaurant and as far as I can tell the only food here comes in the form of complimentary chili popcorn that’s served in a bag.
The jalapeno margarita is well-made, tart and stings like a scorpion – there’s so much jalapeno in it that while the top half has the yellow colour of a normal margarita, the bottom of the glass is a sinister chilli green. I like it, but the GW can only drink half before he feels queasy to the point where I have to drink his margarita as well as mine (not that I’m complaining). They also have a dizzying array of tequila behind the bar plus they serve Rio Bravas beer.
Crazed women aside, I like this place – it’s a bit like a South American version of Shady Pines Saloon and has a vibrant feel about it. Just go easy on the jalapenos.
Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Tio’s Cerveceria?
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