Late to the Party

N ot long after it debuted in late 2018, Te Amo Tequila began attracting big, boisterous dinner and drinks crowds on the regular, extending an invitation to join the party through a long and often open window between the restaurant’s front bar and the busy sidewalk along Temple Street.

Yesterday afternoon, I finally accepted the invitation. Even at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday, the place was doing a healthy business, with all but one of eight high tops taken on the seasonal terrace and at least as many patrons seated inside. It’s possible they were attracted, like me, by happy hour—active, amazingly, from noon to 7 every day—and its discounted tacos and margs. I started with a Prickly Pear Margarita ($6) served “up”: shaken with ice and served without. Arriving in stemware, the pink elixir wavered perilously close to the brim, with fresh lime pulp spilling over the sides. Sipped through a straw to avoid any more spillage, the flavor was light and sweet but not cloying, with the lime taking the lead.

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But I had really come for the tacos, served in threes except on Taco Tuesday, when you can mix and match three or more a la carte. The non-dairy version of the Mushroom Tacos ($7.50 during happy hour) were delicious even without their usual wasabi ancho chile crema. Savory, robust slices of marinated and seasoned portabella carried the dish, with leaves of fresh arugula delivering a verdant, spicy punch.

The Avocado Tacos (also $7.50 during happy hour) were even better. Long wedges of avocado were hefty but uplifting, just like you want them to be, while a roasted melange you might consider a salsa—“corn, tomatoes, red peppers, scallions, chipotle peppers”—plumbed smoky, sweet, spicy depths. A “micro greens relish” above and crisp shreds of romaine below added some pleasing crunch and constitution, but it was the salsa that lingered.

If you find yourself tempted to do some lingering of your own, note that the restaurant currently caps seatings at 90 minutes, mirroring the recently adopted policies of other hotspots that might otherwise have a hard time making room for new rounds of customers. Still, I didn’t feel rushed. The service was speedy, and, though the portions were healthy and I tried to savor each bite, I had plenty of time to enjoy a post-meal margarita—Strawberry-Mango—and to wonder why it took me so long to join Te Amo Tequila’s party.

Te Amo Tequila
182 Temple St, New Haven (map)
Daily noon-midnight
(203) 553-7914 | teamotequilabar@gmail.com
Website | Happy Hour Menu

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. Image features the Avocado Tacos.

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Dan has worked for a couple of major media companies, but he likes Daily Nutmeg best. As DN’s editor, he writes, photographs, edits and otherwise shepherds ideas into fully realized feature stories.

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