Category Archives: Reviews

Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant–It’s In The Blood

2014-08-22 19.57.43Felipe’s Mexican Restaurant’s humble beginning exemplifies the meaning of the Latino American Dream. 

Voted a Reader’s Choice award for Best Mexican Restaurant in 2014 by the Wichita Eagle, the family owned chain has been in business for nearly 50 years pioneering its style of Mexican cuisine and feeding generations of families in Wichita, Kansas. 

On a bustling and muggy Friday night in late August 2014, Tequila Aficionado Media was invited to meet with the proprietors of Felipe’s, the Lujano family, at the northeast Wichita location of their four venues.  

Family Is Everything

Felipe's logo.

 2014-08-22 20.59.43It is the family patriarch, Don Roberto Lujano, who captures all the attention.

Strolling through the clean and brightly decorated restaurant, Don Roberto, brother of the deceased Felipe for whom the restaurants are named, visits every table to shake hands with his regulars.  He responds with a wide grin and a kind word as people of every race, creed and color call him Papa.2014-08-22 20.58.13

In the next two clips, Don Roberto’s son, Miguel Lujano, manager of the northeast restaurant on Woodlawn Blvd., recounts Felipe’s vast history as the first establishment to introduce Mexican cuisine to Wichita in 1967.

Think You’ve Tasted It All?

I’ve ingested just about every single style of Mexican food.  From glitzy chain restaurants with signature tropical fruit-based tequila drinks, to hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop diners that serve handmade tortillas and guacamole, I truthfully thought I had tasted it all.

2014-08-22 20.20.01

Not the usual “gringofied” spicy Mexican food that is served in the corporate-owned eateries, Felipe’s relies heavily on a medley of traditional herbs, spices, and heirloom family recipes.  Still, they are not without its own unique cuisine challenges as Miguel Lujano explains…

Mild vs. Hot 

2014-08-22 21.12.04With the influx of more Mexican and Mexican Americans into Wichita establishing diners of their own, Felipe’s continues to find ways to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack.

Noting that their customer base is trending toward more spicy hot ingredients, the Lujano family has taken advantage of this turnabout by adding some picante to their signature dishes.  Don Roberto Lujano and his wife, Maria Teresa, still cook in the kitchen with most dishes made from scratch.

And in a state whose liquor is controlled (state run), the task of obtaining more authentic tequilas for Felipe’s emblematic cocktails can be even more challenging, especially when competing restaurants plagiarize them for their own menus.  The secret, Miguel Lujano insists, is educating their customers.

Maestro Dobel Special Edition

Maestro Dobel Special Edition

Felipe's Special Edition selection.

Felipe’s Special Edition selection.

Miguel admitted that it also helps to be friendly with representatives from Glazer’s and Standard Beverage Corporation, liquor distributors who share his passion for tequila.  Through his relationships, Felipe’s has been able to acquire such sought after tequilas as Suerte, Siete Leguas, Demetrio, George Clooney’s Casamigos, and participate in Maestro Dobel’s Special Edition program.

2014-08-22 22.53.24

 

Craving Felipe’s

Here, Miguel Lujano explains how Felipe’s is so artful at getting their customers to crave their cooking and cocktails.

Three Keys To Success

Miguel Lujano shares his father’s three keys to a successful Mexican restaurant.

In The Blood

In a city that has seen its Hispanic population boom from a scattering few in 1967 to close to 60,000 strong in 2014, Felipe’s has actively enticed the unpredictable tastes of its community over the decades.  But, what keeps the Lujano family passionately pushing the limits of their traditional fare?

Simply put–

It’s in their blood.

***

Enjoy this Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita…

Felipe's signature recipe for homemade sangrita.

Felipe’s signature recipe for homemade sangrita.

 

2014-08-22 22.26.35

and Miguel’s signature Margarita.

Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.


Casa Noble Joven Review

Casa Noble Joven

 

CasaNoble_JovenFew spirits I’ve tasted—tequila or otherwise—grabbed my attention the way Casa Noble Joven did when I tasted it at the distillery two years ago. Traveling with a press group led by the distillery’s CEO, Pepe Hermosillo, we’d consumed multiple expressions of Casa Noble while there. But this one, packing a 104 proof punch, was simply electrifying.

Not because it was hot or a peppery-boozy tongue lasher, but because at nearly still strength and without any aging, the tequila told the story of the agave from which it came better than any I’d had at that point in my life.

A couple of my peers didn’t agree. They weren’t comfortable with the proof and said Joven overpowered their palates. I thought privately, “You’re missing out! Try it again and get used to it!”

Drinking this way is part of life where I come from in Louisville, Ky. That’s Bourbon Country, where high-proof spirits are preferred by many because that’s where the flavors are. Sure, it takes practice to nose and sip such rocket fuel correctly, but it’s worth it when you taste George T. Stagg 141 proof or a barrel-strength Four Roses.

But Casa Noble Joven didn’t demand such patience. It was—to my palate—immediately drinkable after a few swirls in the glass. Instead of a burn, it felt as if slightly carbonated, a delightful buzzing sensation.

The nose was abundantly fragrant: floral, tropical-fruity and loaded with heaps of roasted agave. It may still be the most inviting tequila I’ve ever nosed. The flavor was lush, laden with sweet agua miel, spicy white pepper and highlands agave minerality. Unlike some of my colleagues, I wanted more and received it in a generous pour from Hermosillo, who smiled in approval.

Two days later, at a tequila dinner in Louisville attended by Hermosillo, I met a liquor store owner who’d bought an entire barrel for his store and was having it bottled. I had to have one. Once acquired, I rationed it out slowly and carefully, treasuring it.

Don’t miss this part: That turned out unnecessary when I made a cocktail with it. Here’s why. Even though I love Joven straight, my standard 2-ounce pour of tequila (any spirit) took over the drink, not the desired effect. Next time I used 1.5 ounces and it was perfect. I’d never had a better margarita.

But wasn’t it too costly at $50 a bottle to use in a cocktail?

Not at 1.5 ounces per pour. When I did the math, I figured out that using Joven to make the ultimate margarita (scratch sour mix only) was actually less expensive than pouring 2 ouncees of Casa Noble’s 80 proof Crystal. Crystal is an exceedingly fine blanco, but its younger brother is even better.

Cannot recommend this one highly enough—if you can find it.

 

stephen coomes, steve coomes,About Steve Coomes

Tequila Aficionado is proud to welcome rising star in tequila and travel journalism, Stephen Coomes, as a Contributing Writer and Reviewer.  His steady gigs include roles as contributing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News (the U.S. restaurant industry’s largest publication), restaurant critic and feature writer for Louisville magazine, feature writer for Edible Louisville and Seafood Business magazines, Kentucky travel and dining contributor for Southern Living, and dining blogger for Insider Louisville. He also writes marketing, PR, web copy and ghostwrites for numerous private clients.  You can visit Steve online at www.stevecoomes.com.


Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.


The Texas Bar & Nightclub Alliance Convention

What’s New

The Texas Bar & Nightclub Alliance Convention successfully launched its first annual event at the Radisson Hotel & Suites in downtown Austin on August 10-11, 2014.

Primarily a show that serves the spirits industry (or trade) in Texas, for us at Tequila Aficionado Media, it was a chance to visit with new brands, products and services trying to break into the challenging Texas spirits market.

In this clip, Michael E. Klein, a spirits entrepreneur and long-time Austin businessman who spearheaded the formation of the alliance, explains its purpose.

What follows are some of the highlighted products that you should watch out for on Tequila Aficionado Media, in Texas, and beyond.

Briscas Mezcal2014-08-11 15.09.09

In the current booming mezcal market, more and more brands are appearing under the traditional higher alcoholic proofs that more established mezcals are known for.  Briscas is a refreshing libation that refuses to be confused with other gateway mezcal brands.

Ricardo Gonzales, Sales & Marketing Director for importer Moreno Spirits, gives us a quick rundown of the small batch espadín Briscas Mezcal.

Juan Moreno, President & CEO of Moreno Spirits, explains how bringing Briscas to market was a journey of discovery for himself and his family.

Surprises

The Texas Bar & Nightclub Alliance Convention was not without surprises for us at Tequila Aficionado Media.

Jason Kosmas, co-founder of the 86 Company.

Jason Kosmas, co-founder of the 86 Company.

Austin resident Jason Kosmas, co-founder of the celebrated The 86 Company responsible for a brilliant line of spirits with exacting quality like our Brands Of Promise(TM) Overproof Silver Medal winning Tequila Cabeza, made an appearance in support of the event.

tbnca

L-R: Mike Morales, Jason Kosmas, John Rivers

Also exhibiting in grand style was John L. Rivers IV (a.k.a.: Juan Rios), Managing Director of Julio Cesar Chavez Tequila, a new offering from the illustrious former boxing champion.

Not only did he share with us some of this fine sipping tequila and listed its current markets, but also an exclusive photo of a super piña in the champ’s agave fields.

[Spoiler Alert!  At press time, we had not notified John about our verdict of Julio Cesar Chavez Tequila’s review on a future Sipping Off The Cuff(TM), but we let the cat out of the bag, here….]

Mixing and Matching

2014-08-11 16.02.19One of the more exciting and refreshing combos we discovered at the Texas Nightclub & Bar Alliance Convention was between Pablo Madrigali, Brand Manager with Mexcor International and Lucy Corona, co-founder of Slim Ritas, the 100 calorie fresh juice margarita mix.

Mexcor, a family owned business based in Houston, TX, has been the importer of crowd pleasing tequilas at reasonable prices from Destiladora del Valle de Tequila (NOM 1438)  for several years, including El Reformador, Cava de los Morales and Agavales.

Lucy Corona is a dynamic and spirited mother and business owner whose dream after giving birth to her children was to enjoy a satisfying and natural margarita.  So she made them herself!

Here, Rob Corona explains the birth of SlimRitas.

Here, Pablo gives a bit of Mexcor’s and Agavales’ history, and how he and Lucy joined forces.

One To Watch

2014-08-11 14.35.19 michael kleinMichael E. Klein has handed the reigns of planning future conventions to the team at San Antonio based SMC Events, and it looks to expand the tradeshow’s reach even further with more products and services participating.

Judging from the contagious energy coming from the booths of other exhibitors at the first annual Texas Nightclub & Bar Alliance Convention, the promise of bigger yearly events looks to be a sure thing.

JLP Golden Lime Margarita Review

jlp margaritaJLP Golden Lime Margarita

(NOM 1416)

Hands down, the best ready-to-drink margarita on the market today!

When Javier Martinez sent us samples of his JLP Tequila ready-to-drink margarita in a can, we really weren’t sure what to expect. Before I learned about sipping tequilas, I was a margarita girl. I’ve tried every ready-mixed margarita I could find. I’ve had drinks with overwhelming amounts of sugar that led to a hungover feeling (completely messed-up blood sugar levels) after just one. I’ve had others where you could swear there wasn’t a hint of tequila in them. Others were so salty I needed Midol for the water retention. And still others, that claimed to be “Light” or “Sugar-Free”, were so disgusting I couldn’t even drink them after the first sip.

 

 

go to margarita

Mike Morales’ go-to- margarita while grilling.

 

After chilling the JLP Margarita, Mike Morales and I tried it and were shocked!

It was tart enough to be refreshing, sweet enough to be smooth, and required no salt or other special preparation.  It was fantastic straight out of the can!

We both agreed that this was by far the very best ready-mixed margarita we’d ever tried.

jlp margarita on a lake

Add to that the easy convenience of the can and we knew this would be our go-to drink for barbeques, beaches, or just when we were too tired to pour anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 pack margarita

The easy-carry 4-pack makes this one a no-brainer for those who prefer a margarita over a beer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jlp diva cupcakes

I needed a margarita mix as an ingredient for my Diva Tequila Cupcakes and this pre-mixed margarita was the only one I knew wouldn’t let me down.

 

 

 

When I needed a margarita mix to add to my Diva Tequila Cupcakes in the Tequila Aficionado Test Kitchen, I had about 10 untried mixes in the refrigerator and could have just picked any one of them, but I knew I wanted these cupcakes to be perfect and the JLP Margarita wouldn’t let me down.  It may have added a touch more tequila to the recipe but everybody loved them!

Click here for the Diva Tequila Cupcakes recipe. 

 

2014-04-12 19.23.38

It was our drink of choice with our Hornitos Lime Shot Marinated & Grilled Chicken.

 

 

 

 

When we wanted a nice margarita to pair with our Hornitos Lime Shot Grilled Chicken, the JLP Margarita was an easy choice.

Click here for our Hornitos Lime Shot marinated chicken recipe. 

 

 

2014-04-12 15.33.12

Go to your local liquor store and ask for JLP Margaritas. You’ll thank me for it!

 

 

In closing, let me say that I have issues with sugar (Reactive Hypoglycemia), so taste-testing margaritas and margarita mixes can be particularly treacherous for me.  Luckily, I felt no insulin response to the JLP Margarita so although I don’t have nutrition information for it, I believe that any sugar in it is below my usual threshold of about 10 grams.  (No guarantees though.)GOLDNominee2014

 

 

 

All in all, this is a great ready-to-drink margarita that I recommend highly.  In fact, I recommend it so highly that I’m nominating it for the 2014 Brands of Promise Awards.

 

 


Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.



It’s Margarita Madness!

Margarita madness begins today!

margarita madness

margarita madnessIn an effort to remain unbiased during National Tequila Week (here at Tequila Aficionado, every day is Tequila Day, but our nation only gives it a single holiday), Tequila Aficionado is featuring all margaritas until we run out of mixers!  It’s Margarita Madness!

It’s our quinceanera and we’ll mix if we want to.

For recommendations on what Mike and Alex believe are the best tequilas for both sipping and mixing, take a look at our YouTube playlists for the Brands of Promise nominees of 2013 and 2014. All of the nominees are excellent products. Do yourself a favor and try them all!

Of course we recommend sipping, but if you must mix, we have some great margarita mixes coming up for you.

Stay tuned for our first review – and feel free to mix a few of these while you wait!

 

Follow Tequila Aficionado’s board Margaritas on Pinterest.

 

 

margarita madness

 

 

Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.