As far as restaurant/bars are concerned, Newport's El Ranchito really isn't that special. The smoking patio is too cramped, the tacos are too spicy, and the margaritas? They're too . . . strong? Deadly? Vomit launch-y? Whatever. They're definitely too something.And it's probably because they're on tap.
Let's repeat that: margaritas. On tap.
I know: Who, outside of a binge-drinking Tri Delt majoring in product design, could come up with such an idea? More important, who, outside of a binge-drinking Tri Delt majoring in product design—and minoring in Sig Ep, badum—wouldever appreciate it?
But drop by El Ranchito, and you can't miss them: taps, spewing forth cupful after cupful of sweet-and-sour classic margaritas, each one enabling another UC Irvine student, out-of-town vacationer or overworked Balboa yuppie to sit back, relax and get tanked.
It's a concept so downright sinister it deserves a patent alongside the kegerator and the Long Island Iced Tea Slurpee machine. It's also, for all its terrible next-day consequences, genius. Face it: margaritas were created by God so that we, his people, could have a reason to drink alcohol that didn't involve attempts to stay warm, cure diseases or maintain interest in the sheer banality that is watching grown men play sports.
Put more simply, margaritas exist for one reason and one alone: Taco Tuesdays. And when it comes to Taco Tuesdays, few top El Ranchito's. Why? Again, three words, folks: margaritas. On. Tap.
Those three words are why people line up outside the restaurant—and sometimes down Newport Boulevard—and pay $5 at the door. People do this every week without fail, sometimes even waiting in line until well past 10 p.m.
The result is a packed restaurant and an even more jammed smoking patio where people gnash on all the free tacos they can shove down their hole, chasing each bite of the surprisingly spicy—and actually quite good; that bit about them being too spicy was a total fib—chicken or beef with a gulp from their killer $3.50-per-cup margaritas.
Then they do it again.
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Three cups later, their bellies are full and they are well on their way to wasted. Except instead of spinning, the room begins to slow down: glancing up, guys find pairs of eyes lingering on theirs for just a bit too long; looking across the room at cute smiles, girls find it takes 10 seconds to return them, 15 for the obligatory sip afterward, and a whole 30 to lick their lips.
By 11 p.m., there's no denying El Ranchito is one looming, throbbing meat market—and we're not talking tacos . . . wait, maybe we are, badum.And while some might consider this a drawback, I believe it's precisely why Taco Tuesdays—and more important, summer and daylight savings time and warm weather and wearing less clothing and not caring if your head ends up in your cat's litter box by night's end—are so fantastic.
Well, that and margaritas. On tap.