Just like everyone else in America, me and my good friend MC decided Cinco de Mayo was the perfect excuse to indulge in margaritas and some South of the border fare. We chose Escorpion, Riccardo Ullio’s casual taco and tequila bar on Peachtree Street.
The restaurant’s rustic wood decor is complimented by modern stainless steel touches and pony print chairs with colorful artifacts like framed matador costumes adorning a red wall. Festive, but we chose a table on the sidewalk instead to take advantage of the gorgeous spring weather. Cars whizzed by as we watched the parade of pedestrians, some of them wearing wildly inappropriate outfits.
Escorpion’s menu features tequila flights and cocktails, so we both started with El Veneno, a skinny margarita made with 100 proof Dulce Vida tequila. Another drink, the Miel Picante was mixed with jalapeno and muddled basil, so I requested those ingredients added to my cocktail. It was spicy, herbaceous, and very strong!
Freshly made chips, house made salsa, and pinwheel crisps sprinkled with spices were on the house and we ordered guacamole out of habit. Ullio has always preferred quality to quantity, something that was evident at Beleza and Cuerno, his two Spanish restaurants on nearby Juniper, both of which have closed. Although the portion seemed small for its $7 pricetag, the guacamole was almost like my recipe that I coerced out of a Mexican cleaning lady two decades ago.
We didn’t have any problem polishing off an entire basket of chips and its accompaniments. I followed up with one carnitas taco while MC countered the fried chips with a refreshing ceviche made with lime- marinated tilapia, avocado, onions, tomato, and cilantro. Made in authentic Mexican style, tender citrus braised pulled pork is served on a corn tortilla and topped with diced onion, and cilantro. Escorpion drizzles the carnitas with a salsa verde that has a nice kick.
For our second round of drinks, I decided to try the aforementioned Miel Picante made with ginger liqueur, lime, jalapeno, honey, and basil but missed the salty rim. MC ordered La Paloma, basically a grapefruit margarita, and wasn’t thrilled with it, so we switched.
There was a second round of food as well. LC joined us and we shared a few additional tacos; grilled Baja fish with cabbage and citrus vinaigrette, arrachera filled with marinated skirt steak, caramelized onions and peppers, and another carnitas. All of the tacos were served on colorful ceramic ware, reflecting the vibrant spirit of the cuisine.
Round three was a repeat of the first and included some dancing, after all, it was Cinco de Mayo…ole’!
800 Peachtree Street 678-666-5198