Why: Jorge's Margarita Factory opened in July in the space previously occupied by Los Potrillos, which has since moved to a new location. This is the second restaurant venture for owner Jorge Castro. Castro's first, Guadalajara Mexican Grill & Cantina in Longview, has been operating for five years. Jorge's brings a different experience to the Mexican cuisine component of Clark County's dining scene. The restaurant has fresh, modern appeal and brings a vast menu that offers some unique dishes, along with several traditional-turned-vegetarian selections.
Atmosphere: Castro has expanded and remodeled, creating a larger restaurant that accommodates more diners, a bigger bar, and a private room for groups. Decor elements impart an inviting, festive atmosphere adorned with string lights. The unique style and color scheme is unexpected and attractive. It has a south-of-the-border feel with dash of Mediterranean inspiration. Several large screen-televisions provide entertainment.
What I tried: I had the Burrito Cancun, and my dining companion ordered the chicken fajitas from the lunch menu. We also ordered a side of chunky guacamole to add to our dipping options for our pre-meal chips and salsa. I also tried a nonalcoholic piña colada.
The chips and salsa were ordinary.
The guacamole had visible pieces of tomato and onion in the avocado mash. The guacamole was minimally seasoned and imparted a fresh, appetizing goodness, making it our preferred dip choice.
My Burrito Cancun was served on a preheated plate and accompanied by rice and beans. The burrito consists of chicken, snapper and shrimp wrapped in a flour tortilla and smothered in a special house-made white sauce topped with sautéed mushrooms and a thick slice of avocado. The result was a rich and somewhat-sweet mixture with varying textures that had saltiness to the finish of every bite. The rice and beans were comparable those served at other Mexican restaurants.
My dining companion's fajitas arrived in traditional, sizzling style. The mixture of chicken, onions and peppers was flavored differently than that of other restaurants, and characterized by a strong chili presence.
The piña colada was a smooth, icy blend with a frothy top that was both refreshing and sweet. It was generously sized and quenched my thirst as well as my sweet tooth.
Overall, Jorge's Margarita Factory exceeded our expectations, and we found the value for dollars spent was worth it. It's also a good option if you're looking for something more than the typical Mexican restaurant.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Enchiladas Verdes, made with tomatillo salsa (a favorite of mine), sounded delicious and simple.
For those who find security with the traditional combinations, the small options include one- and two-choice meals with rice and beans, and the large options include two and three choices with rice and beans. For those who don't want to deviate from American dishes, there are hamburgers and a T-bone steak served with fries and a salad.
Menudo is on the menu, and the Guadalajara Chicken Salad is an exclusive menu item.
There are several desserts from which to choose. They include churros, a banana chimi and Mexican cheesecake.
Other observations: The restaurant is spotless and tidy. We especially enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere on our lunch visit, and found the waitstaff to be friendly and expertly attentive. If you like Jorge's pico de gallo, you can purchase some to go in 10-, 16- and 32-ounce containers.
Cost: Appetizers start at $6.99 and top out at $12.50, other than the Camarones Del Mar Platter, which is $16.25 for the half-pound size, and $24.99 for the full pound. Soup is $4.99 to $12. Tostadas, ensaladas, enchiladas, burritos and fajitas range from $7.49 to $26.50, with most in the $11 to $15 range. Dinner combinations are $10.99 for the small plate and $11.99 for the large. Specialty dishes are $12.99 to $26.99. Lunch menu prices range from $6.99 to $10.50, with a median of $7.50. Happy hour menu items are $2.99 to $5.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday. 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Happy Hour is 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to close Monday through Friday.
Where: 14415 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.
Health score: Jorge's Margarita Factory received a preopening inspection and is scheduled for a routine inspection soon. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants that score 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.