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Le Tequila Bar:

Revisited Mexican with Bar Vibes


Disclaimer: This meal was comped.

The Pitch

Few neighborhoods have witnessed the explosion in dining options that Saint-Henri has over the last decade.

Amid the buzzing restaurants gaining all the attention such as Tuck Shop, Foiegwa, Elena and BarBara are a handful of below-the-radar mainstays that have endured the tumultuous period of gentrification and saturation, followed by the COVID-19 lockdown.  One of those is Mexican resto/pub Le Tequila Bar, which is celebrating its 9 years in business this very week.

The Mood

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It is worth noting that Le Tequila Bar is an 18+ establishment, a welcome sign for my wife and me who can use some adult time with our preteen kids left at home.  Far from your typical Mexican restaurant look featuring bold colors, native influences and a fiesta atmosphere, here the décor relies heavily on wood and dark tones.  Some color is given in a corner nook adorned with a día de los muertos motif.

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On weekends one can expect DJ sets, but during our visit upbeat reggaeton and Afrobeats filled the airwaves.  The dining room was half full upon our arrival around 7:30PM and got busier around 9PM.  By then some diners came in to watch a sports game on one of the several hanging TV screens, and the bar was fully taken.


The Food

Although billed as a bar, Le Tequila has no shortage of food options.  The fare is Mexican inspired with some twists such as a cilantro/chipotle poutine, falafel tacos and a tandoori chicken burrito.  For drinks, a concise, well-put-together list features a handful of margaritas, a bunch of beers on tap or bottled and a few wine options.

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Cocktails can all be turned into mocktails, which I opted for since we are in the month of Ramadan.  For tonight, owner Viral Patel got us started with a blood orange mocktail which was refreshingly sweet with a tint of citrus.  Following that we shared a vegetarian nacho platter and a market salad.

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The nachos were served with a quartet of irresistible dips – guac, garlic yogurt, salsa verde and hot salsa – but were a little tricky to eat given how small the onion, pepper and jalapeno were chopped, making them fall off the chips.  The salad comprised a long list of ingredients which got jumbled, not allowing anything to stand out in particular, but was fresh and crunchy nonetheless.

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An OK start so far but things really picked up from this point onward.  A second margarita mocktail perfectly mixed heat with sweetness and sourness thanks to jalapeno syrup and garnish, mango nectar and lime mix.  We then got two orders of tacos, the first of which had crispy falafel sitting on avocado crema, then topped with cabbage and jalapeno slices.

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Those were easily the best tacos I have had in a couple of years; and were followed by even better ones!  The crown tonight goes to tandoori chicken tacos which saw the tasty chicken cut into small cubes and mixed with red peppers and jalapenos sitting on more crema, this time topped with pickled red onions.  These were perfection pure and simple and showcased what fusion should really look like.

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At this point, we were quite full and thought we were done for the night, until Mr. Patel surprised us with a plate of tender slices of flank steak atop a smoky/spicy morita pepper sauce, drizzled with chimichurri then garnished with radish and roasted pumpkin seeds for crunch.  The menu listed this as "fajitas" since it came with soft tortillas, but this was way too good, sophisticated and elevated to call fajitas.


The Verdict

Having not read or heard much about Le Tequila Bar beforehand, my wife and I walked in today without any expectations, but walked out blown away.  Both taco plates and those killer fajitas are some of the best Mexican foodstuffs we have ever had.

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Besides the fun vibe, crafty drinks and deliciously bold food, the prices here are worth mentioning.  The entire menu is below $20, except for the fajitas which sit at a reasonable $22.  While Le Tequila Bar may not generate the same buzz as those aforementioned Saint-Henri luminaries, it certainly should not be overlooked.

Salud to nine more years and beyond!

Price per person:  $32.25

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Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink.  We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.

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