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The Spirits of Mexico Festival is in its 10th year of production with this being the 3rd year of participation for San Diego. We attended the Tequila Trail 2012 last year and had a blast! Some changes we noticed this time:
- day and time of the week (from a Sunday 1-4pm to a Thursday 6-9pm)
- separation of the cocktail competition (now held on Tuesday)
- no stage for announcements
Besides that, it was good fun walking the beautiful streets of Old Town San Diego and enjoying a few bites and sips at the hosting restaurants.
To start, we picked up our tickets at will-call, which was located off San Diego Avenue and Twiggs Street. Just look for the big pop-up tents and workers, then pick up your will-call tickets or purchase them on the spot. Then you can take a look at the printed map and visit any of the locations in any order you please! On the back of the map was a list of restaurants and tequilas and we were pleased to see more than half of the tequilas were new to us! How exciting!
Our first stop was once again Old Town Mexican Cafe. They actually had two tequilas for sampling at this location, Regional Tequila and Azunia Tequila. I think the ambassador recommended the Azunia brand so we went straight for their repasado and anejo! The Azunia had a very rich and deep flavor and we liked it plenty.
Old Town Mexican Cafe served their Carnitas and Pollo Asado Street tacos. I thought the tacos were juicy and and much more flavorful than what I remembered from last year! I gave my jalapeno to Dennis! These were some of our favorite tacos of the night.
Our next stop was Cafe Coyote. Herradura Tequila was a new tequila to us that was served at this location. I thought this one was smooth and tasty. They also had some horseshoe branded keychains for souvenirs.
We remember this restaurant from last year because they also served complimentary margaritas with the tickets! Once again, we were able to sample their margaritas. I really liked the cranberry margarita on the right.
The Cafe Coyote tacos were freshly made with a self-serve toppings bar. I didn't like the guacamole sauce as much but it was still a great snack between tequila tastings.
At Miguel's Cocina, which is one extreme of the Tequila Trail path, we had Milagro Tequila. This brand is very flavorful and they serve it with a cilantro pineapple chaser! The cups on the right contained their style of batita, or a Brazilian cocktail, which included ginger!
Miguel's Cocina served Camaron Jalisco, which was a spectacular sample. They served a stuffed jumbo shrimp wrapped in none other than jalapeno bacon! The fresh fruit garnishes were a refreshing sweetness amid the other flavors. They also had cheese jalapeño with nachos that were not as spicy as I thought. So warm with a nice feel to it. Last year we had a great sampling of honey glazed chicken wings as well so we definitely need to check out the restaurant on our own soon!
At Alamo Mexican Cafe, we found a new brand called Revolucion Tequila. This particular tequila was flavorful although very strong and not as smooth for us.
Alamo Mexican Cafe served chicken and beef rolled tacos, southwest salad, and nachos with southwest cheese dip. Dennis liked the taquito here but he must have given me the edge pieces because it was super chewy when I tried it!
At Rockin Baja, we found Suerte Tequila. This brand is newer in the area, approximately 10 months in Cali and only 3 days in Old Town San Diego (as of that day). Dennis actually liked the silver a little more than the anejo! It was not as smooth for me as some of the others we've tasted but still enjoyable. We love the logo though and we got a hat, a shirt, and a tank top from them! Yay!
This was the Tequila Lime Shrimp, which was very similar to the sample that Rockin Baja served last year. After comparing images, I notice that the oily shrimp from before is now replaced with a saucy shrimp. The bread was definitely fresher this year but I still think there's a little too much sauce on this dish and not enough flavor!
At El Patio, we found an imperial agave beer brewed by the Booze Brothers Brewery and it was the first tequila infused beer that we've tried. I happened to like their light beers very much! We talked to them and it sounds like they are in the process of opening their own brewery in the Vista area within the next year. There are no bottles yet so we snapped the beer tap action instead. And thinking back, I should have gotten a picture of the two brothers in their logo'ed Booze Brothers shirts! Dennis and I got distracted by the food and old acquaintances we just found a few minutes prior!
As for the food at El Patio, they served mini rolled tacos, chips with bean dip and tamales. The tamales weren't available until a few minutes later but they definitely gave me a warm fuzzy... like Texas tamales... delicious!
We found Jose outside the Cosmopolitan Hotel, waiting for a crowd before beginning his agave plant demonstration! There's no tequila without this plant so it's a very special part of the process! He gives it one sturdy chop after another until all the leaves have been removed! Thanks for showing us how it works! That blade is sharp for sure!
So many pictures... continued in Part 2!