While some restaurants take months, or even years, to open their doors, Tequila Catador joined Midtown’s line-up of delicious eateries in the blink of an eye.
There are a few details that contributed to the quick turnover.
The South Virginia Street location was, just months ago, home to Brauhaus 701. The owner, who is also at the helm of Whiskey Lounge next door, decided it was time for a change, trading his German-inspired establishment for one with Spanish flair.
Enter Tequila Catador.
Brauhaus 701 closed and within weeks Tequila Catador took its place. The décor was completely redone, showing off a refinished bar, colorful murals and a wall of vibrant sugar skulls. Long communal tables were traded for intimate dining and the booths got a chic makeover. Perhaps most notably, the (now colorful) centerpiece bar was restocked with a glittering collection of tequilas.
Ownership and much staff stayed the same, but the concept was overhauled, taking advantage of the success their other venture had seen focusing on one liquor and building a restaurant around that.
With the reopening, a new menu was debuted that’s rooted in Mexican classics. There is a strong presence of seafood throughout and not just your standard cod and shrimp tacos. There is also blackened salmon, mahi mahi, ahi tuna and calamari.
A great way to judge any Mexican restaurant is by its chips. I suggest starting with chips and guacamole; however, salsa and ceviche (shrimp or fish) are also offered. The chips here are not the kind that come from a large bag, mass produced and distributed to second-rate restaurants throughout the country. I’m not sure the origin of these specific chips, but they are thick and flavorful, hardy enough to handle a spoonful of guac without literally crumbling under the pressure.
From tostados to nachos, there are a lot of options for single serve plates or shareables. One of the best features is that just about any menu item can be customized with your choice of protein: steak, chicken, salmon, shrimp, cod or mahi mahi.
I always go for the tacos. Light and fresh, they are typically small enough that you can try two or three varieties. Here, the tacos are a bit bigger, with two tortillas each so you can divvy up the ingredients and chow down. For most, two would probably make a meal. The blackened salmon was my personal favorite, in large part because it wasn’t what you’d expect on most menus.
Often blackened to me means spicy, but here it was anything but. Instead, the salmon was juicy and flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside. Paired with arugula, the overall impact was light and refreshing.
The steak taco was also delicious, tender not chewy, topped with onions and Mexican chimichurri. Other options included pulled pork, ahi tuna, cod, salmon, mahi mahi and shrimp.
The burrito is expertly made and the best part, if you’re asking me, is that it comes with heaping sides of sour cream and guacamole. We’re not talking a spoonful but rather a salsa dish filled to the brim.
Even without the extras, however, the burritos are anything but dry. Packed with Spanish rice and beans, the cheese is expertly melted without taking over and pico de gallo adds a dose of freshness. There’s also a chipotle cream dressing inside and corn, making the burrito a little different than your standard fare and considerably more delicious.
While we could go on and on about the food, which also includes festive fajitas and molcajete, enchiladas and plates of carne asada and fish, the drinks also deserve special attention.
Yes, you can get a margarita here, a good ‘ol simple classic marg. But we dare you to step outside of the box for something different. I cannot recommend the Basil Mangorita more. In my experience, fruity margaritas can be overly sweet and are usually blended. Here, the mangorita is more earthy and it’s served on the rocks. The bartender mixes up reposado and Grand Marnier, using a mango juice and fresh basil to give it an herbaceous flavor. Not to mention, the presentation is gorgeous.
If you like it spicy, a jalapeño margarita steps it up a notch, and can be made with habaneros for even more heat.
Also on the menu, and certainly on my list of drinks to try, is the Vanilla Cinner, described as a mix of vanilla and agave, featuring vanilla coke, añejo and cinnamon. The Coconut Cream and Lime Margarita is also tempting, promising something creamy and cool, made from coconut, lime, reposado and Cointreau.
I always thought the food at Brauhaus was underrated, but I think Tequila Catador brings to the space what its predecessor was missing—ambiance.
Here, not only are you getting the delicious food, but you also have a curated drink menu that doesn’t feel like a copy and paste of another Mexican restaurant, along with surroundings that feel modern, inviting and themed without being kitschy.
It’s the ideal place for a Sunday lunch date, a small gathering or a celebratory group hang.
713 S. Virginia St, Reno, NV 89501