In Colorado, if you advertise that something is hot, it should be hot. Back east, hot may translate as tepid - but in Colorado, we're tough, dammit. When we order something hot, we expect it to be frickin' hot -- especially at a Mexican restaurant. Last week I dropped by Machete, the new restaurant that Dan Ohlson, who owned Chez Jose for seventeen years before closing that Cherry Creek mainstay last year, has opened in the former home of Q's Worldly BBQ. Already the underground space seems better suited to a Mexican joint than it did to barbecue, with an extremely accommodating staff, an indoor/outdoor bar and stadium seating outside that should be popular with Creekers.
To get fully in the Machete mood, I ordered the Hot Mess ($8.50), a margarita made with tequila that had been infused with habanero and serrano peppers, then mixed with lime, agave and Cointreau. But the result was so mild, it was like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Since Machete had just opened on Cinco de Mayo (and then closed for more renovation work before reopening in mid-May), I thought that the tequila might not have had enough time to absorb the heat of the pepper - although when I suggested this to the waiter, he said the drink tasted the way it was supposed to.
Disappointed, I ditched the Hot Mess for a Spicy Rico's Rita ($9.50), made with Herradura Silver Tequila, Cointreau, agave and muddled fresh jalapeños, cilantro and lime. While this drink, too, lacked heat, at least it had the refreshing bite of fresh jalapeños and cilantro.
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While the drinks may not be hot, this spot certainly will be this summer. In Cherry Creek, Machete is definitely a cut above.