Drink(s) of the Week: The Ricardo's $3 Menu

Gustavo probably wouldn't have many kind things to say about the food at Ricardo's Place in San Juan Capistrano. It's one of those brightly-colored, family-friendly joints with big plates of just-ok-if-you-don't-know-any-better Mexican-American standards. For the record, I don't know any better, so it tastes pretty good to me. But forget about the food for a second, because the place has something better than bland burritos: cheap drinks.

On each table, there's a card proclaiming, in classic Microsoft Word wordart, “ALL DAY HAPPY HOUR SPECIAL.” This is special indeed. The choices: margarita on the rocks, cuba libre, vodka tonic and brandy sangria. Each are $3, which provides a lovely contrast to most south-county Mexican restaurants $7 margaritas and well drinks.

I tried the cuba libre — which is just a rum and coke with lime — and the brandy sangria. Both were surprisingly strong. Which is great, because now I've got a plan: grab some friends, hit Ricardo's for dinner, order all four drinks from the permanent happy hour menu, and then stumble down Camino Capistrano to the world-famous Swallow's Inn. No matter your state of sobriety, the Swallow's cowboy crowds provide a good time, but a cheap pre-game at Ricardo's should make it a tad easier to line dance from the get-go.

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