A Spicy Delight
67-63 Woodhaven Blvd. Rego Park
Hours: Everyday, noon-1 a.m.
Credit Cards: All Major
Parking: Lot in the rear, but also street
If you're looking at this address and seem confused, don't be. Yes, it's correct and the reason you've probably not seen a place called Tequila Joe's there before is this is a new establishment, replacing an Irish pub that previously stood there.
Tequila Joe's opened in May and has quickly become a popular hangout spot along Woodhaven Boulevard. It's more than just a restaurant, though that's enough; it's also a sports bar and moonlights as a nightclub. Tequila Joe's occupies two adjoining properties; the Southwestern-influenced restaurant, colored in the reds and browns of the desert, and the full-service bar showing the latest sports games in one and behind the bar, a lounge where on weekends a DJ spins, strobe lights pulsate and patrons dance the night away.
It's Saturday night and I'm here for a grammar school reunion. We make good use of the bar, enjoying the flavored margaritas and mojitos. I tried mango and pineapple, but we also grab a bite to eat. The restaurant empties out after about 10 p.m. while the bar fills up.
I tried the ultimate nachos, which will require the use of more than just your fingers. Topped with salsa, chili, guacamole and jalapenos, the nachos seem more like a salad than a bowl of chips to pick on. The ultimate nachos are a meal by itself, and better shared with friends over a margarita.
The three-cheese quesadillas are fresh and flavorful and come with salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Choose one, two, or all three to garnish your quesadilla slices.
After 11 p.m., we retired to the lounge behind the bar for drinks and dancing. The lounge has comfortable sofas to sit on and chat - if you can hear each other over the music - as well as tables.
I returned a few days later to try one of the restaurant's entrees. First, I sampled the stuffed jalapenos. Being a spicy food connoisseur, this appetizer was a must have. The heat of the pepper was soothed by the filling of cream cheese. The bacon it came wrapped in was an extra treat.
For my main course, I decided on the lemon-lime chicken. The sharp citrus taste made it a perfect summer evening treat. The meal came with a salad and I opted for the Tequila Joe's namesake version. It tasted like a regular garden salad except with bleu cheese and a tangy vinaigrette dressing. I chose the jalapeno mashed potatoes as my side dish. I enjoy spicy food and was surprised by the mild spiciness of the mashed potatoes. Even if you're not a fan of spicy food, the mashed potatoes aren't overpowering enough to make you run for the nearest water fountain. Mix them with a forkful of chicken, or your entrée of choice (the mashed potatoes are an option on all entrees).
Though its focus is on Tex-Mex cuisine, there are some other local favorites. There's a pizza margarita, three-cheese ravioli, and linguine in white or red clam sauce (Tequila Joe's is a stone's throw from Italian-American-heavy Middle Village) and buffalo wings if you're just coming to watch the game at the bar.
— Domenick Rafter