ELLSWORTH — Mexican food lovers rejoice.
The long-anticipated Margaritas Mexican Restaurant opened Tuesday, Aug. 25, to serve up freshly made tacos, nachos, salads and chimichangas, not to mention cocktails, including countless flavors of margaritas.
At 191 Main St., Margaritas succeeds The Mex restaurant that was founded by Bruce Wardwell in 1979 and served up Mexican-inspired fare for 40 years before closing early last summer. To start, Margaritas will be open daily from 3 to 10 p.m. Eventually, the restaurant aims to stay open later in the evening and then offer lunch on weekends and weekday lunches too.
Virginia Moscato, who served for years as the former Jasper’s Restaurant manager, is managing the latest Margaritas franchise for David Reesman, who owns both the Ellsworth and Orono locations. She began working for Nancy King and her son Troy Adams in 1999. Margaritas franchises also can be found in Augusta, Maine; Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New Hampshire.
“Margaritas is a Mexican restaurant where everything is made from scratch,” Moscato said. That includes salsa, guacamole, rice and beans. “We infuse our own tequilas here.”
Moscato said “Everything is very consistent and everything will be the same — whether it’s the Ellsworth, Augusta or Orono locations.”
At Margaritas, another familiar face is head chef Albert Webb, who previously worked at The Tan Turtle. Before that, Webb had been chef at the former Primavera, where he worked for owners Catherine Chen and her husband, Ken Wu, who still own Shinbashi.
The Ellsworth location will offer a condensed version of the Margaritas menu. Most favorites will be offered such as Fish Tacos Del Mar with Baja-style, beer-battered fish, scallions, orange slaw, three pepper sauce and avocado on soft corn tortillas.
The menu will feature several salads, including a taco salad with an edible tortilla shell bowl. The crisp tortilla bowl is filled with shredded lettuce, cheese, corn salsa, salsa fresca, enchilada sauce, guacamole — made fresh daily — and sour cream, with a choice of shredded chicken or seasoned ground beef.
Fajitas, featuring chicken or steak, are served on a sizzling skillet with a bed of seasoned onions and peppers. The dish also comes with Mexican rice, beans, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and warm flour or white corn tortillas.
“The food is amazing,” Moscato said. “There’s something for everyone. People are going to find they really love it here.”
If you’re dining with someone who doesn’t like Mexican food, don’t worry. Burgers will be served as well as other American fare, including wings and chicken tenders. The restaurant also has a children’s menu. Moscato said Margaritas will cater to customers’ dietary needs as well. Gluten-free and vegetarian choices are available.
Margaritas offers flights of margaritas so customers can try different flavors. The restaurant chain infuses tequilas in-house. Jalapeño-infused tequila is on the bar menu to start. Frozen margaritas, including on the rocks, are available.
If you’re not a tequila drinker, the restaurant’s full bar serves some local beers as well as Coca-Cola products.
Like every other business, Margaritas has been affected by COVID-19, which will affect operations.
The entire building has been renovated and the kitchen is completely new, the manager said. A front deck was built on the restaurant — long before COVID-19 hit and the need for outdoor seating. Diners will enter from Main Street and be greeted by a hostess who will seat people, as long as they have reservations.
Furnishings and decorations have been sourced in Mexico.
“We’re excited to be downtown,” said Moscato. “We really worked hard to get it going. I think Ellsworth needed a location that was going to be fun and new. Once we’re up and running we’re excited to do our part for Ellsworth. We’re really excited to be here.”
Reservations are required to dine in at Margaritas for the foreseeable future. Moscato said the reservations will ensure that diners can enjoy their time in the restaurant and allow staff to thoroughly clean.
“We’re going to have social distancing — 6 feet apart,” Moscato said. Customers are asked to wear masks into the restaurant and upon exiting and to put their masks on if they need to move around the restaurant, to visit a restroom for example. “If you don’t want to wear it,” curbside delivery or pick-up are options, the manager said.
The restaurant also takes to-go orders and offers curbside delivery.
To reserve seats, call 813-0013 and check out the menu at www.margs.com/ellsworth.