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Gloria's vs Mattito's: Margarita Massacre

Dallas has always seemed a little confused about margaritas--even though the cocktail was reputedly invented by a local (albeit during a Mexico vacation).

Perhaps it's just a misunderstanding of semantics. You see, 'cocktail' is generally a drink consisting of three or more ingredients, all of which either come through on the palate or somehow enhance one of the other flavors. A 'mixed drink,' on the other hand, uses fruit or Coke or another beverage to either completely or partially obscure the alcohol involved.

The margarita should be a cocktail. Most Dallas restaurants, however, treat it as a mixed drink.

For this week's toque to toque battle, I ordered the house version only--on the rocks. No top shelf. Nothing fancy. So...will the competitors come out fighting, or sissy slapping?

The Gloria's margarita can be cloying. Kindergarten sweet and spritely...maybe I should capitalize that...it lacks the alcoholic burn associated with, say, the hefty old-school cocktails you can special order at Javier's or Monica's.

On the plus side, however, you can discern the outlines of tequila in each sip--a grassy, smoky edge that, with a more robust pour (or a less potent lime mix), would balance out the sweetness. Unfortunately, the third element in a margarita--orange liqueur--fails to show on the palate.

Not the strongest performance...although certainly better than many of the drinks passed off as margaritas.

A restaurant more concerned with their bar program should pummel Gloria's. From the bell it was obvious, however, that Mattito's version would be more adept at dancing than throwing a solid punch. Although I watched the bartender splash a little dash of tequila across the top, only the musty-sour taste of lime juice left to sit in a container came through. Indeed, without test strips and a petri dish, I'd have a hard time proving the mixed drink contained any alcohol at all.

No buzz, no taste of tequila, no hint of orange. Just lime. And that adds up to a decision in favor of Gloria's.

An easy decision...although I must commend Mattito's on their glassware.

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