We know the Dallas Observer has a broad and diverse audience of readers, thanks in part to our alt-weekly status.
So we also know when we write a piece on micheladas, some of our readers will say, “Mmm, my favorite cruda drink,” while other readers will think to themselves, “What in the hell is a michelada?”
Micheladas are a type of Mexican shandy — beer mixed with lime, salt and tomato juice— or more often, Clamato tomato cocktail juice. Additional ingredients such as Cholula hot sauce, Maggi sauce, Tajín (chile-lime salt), tamarind, chamoy (spicy, pickled fruit sauce) and Worcestershire are also common.
Think of it as a Mexican bloody mary with beer instead of vodka. They are traditionally believed to be a hangover cure, and many people insist they are actually good for you.
Micheladas have been showing up on drink menus even outside of Tex-Mex joints for some time now. But to enjoy one at home means time spent shopping for an extensive ingredients list, and everyone knows hair-of-the-dog drinks are best enjoyed when someone else prepares them.
That’s why three businesses we’ve found are selling michelada mixes to-go. All one has to do for a refreshing beer cocktail (that hopefully can also be enjoyed after 5 p.m.) is simply add beer. Any Mexican lager will do.
Nubias Drive Thru
Nubias is a newly opened, cash-only spot selling botanas locas (“crazy snacks”) such as spicy strawberries and Kool-Aid pickle salads, along with michelada mixes to-go. For $25, Nubia Torres will fill a 32-ounce Mason jar with her tamarind- and spice-heavy Clamato mix, then she’ll top it with shrimp, cucumbers, Cracker nuts and tamarind-coated fruit strips. She estimates the jar will make around five micheladas, depending on how heavy you like your mix, and sells it as a “whole meal and drink in one.” In addition to having another Mason jar in the kitchen, what’s nice is that Nubias is the only business here that throws in a complimentary (bottle cap) beer to-go.
Torres started her business by working birthday parties and running a Facebook-based home business in 2015. Her spot on Urban Avenue opened this May and is building a reputation for Mexican junk food indulgence.
Nubias Drive Thru, 4007 Urban Ave. (southeast Dallas). 469-709-7520. 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday.
Fruta Zone is another newly opened, Mexican-style antojitos spot on the border of Cockrell Hill and Oak Cliff. The refreshments sold here are more in the frutería/juice bar/fruit parlor line of snacks, with items such as aguas frescas, spiced fruit cups, smoothies, chocolate-covered bananas and yogurt parfaits. Also popular are the mangonadas — decorated cups of mango sorbet spiked with Tajín, chamoy and tamarind straws. Tamarind straws and Tajín also make appearances in their michemix, which includes shrimp, jicama, cucumber, Japanese peanuts and Takis Fuego chips. It’s an invigorating bargain at $7.62, and once divided into glasses, it’s exactly how my Aussie friend described it — “a party in a glass.”
Sisters Nancy Vega and Araceli Armendariz opened Fruta Zone in April. Their experience in the restaurant industry goes back to Mexico, where they helped their mother at a taco shop by investing allowance money into selling chips. After immigrating to the United States in 2001 with “$1,000 cash and no English,” Vega says opening a family business in America is a dream come true. They are all now citizens.
Fruta Zone, 4444 W. Illinois Ave., #115 (South Oak Cliff). 214-484-7147. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
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El Norteño is a Monterrey-style taqueria in the Cedar Crest neighborhood of southern Dallas, known for elotes and Cali-style michelada mixes. Co-owner Antonio Martinez-Arroyo’s signature dish is his Cheelotes, traditional elotes layered with freshly ground Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The michelada mix is made by Martinez-Arroyo’s wife, Erika Martinez-Arroyo, a native Californian disappointed in the micheladas of Dallas. You can pick up a jar of her light-but-spicy michemiche mix for $15 from their location on Saner Avenue. For more variety, visit them in the Cedars each Wednesday night at Four Corners Brewing Company, 1311 S. Ervay St. Lotería, a version of bingo, starts at 7:30 p.m., and El Norteño’s two fancy micheladas — the La Fresca, with watermelon, mango, cucumber, chamoy and Tajín ($12), and the Ceviche Miche, with ceviche mix and Tostilocos chips ($15) — pair fabulously with Four Corners’ El Grito lager or El Chingón IPA.
Martinez-Arroyo started El Norteño while waiting for permanent residency after his DACA permit expired. Working for someone else while waiting for residency is illegal, but starting a business is allowed, so that’s when he created Cheelotes to get a corner on Dallas’ elotes market. He is proud of his Mexican heritage, as well as his U.S. residency status.
El Norteño. 306 E. Saner Ave. (Cedar Crest). 214-623-7595. 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 8:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Closed Monday-Tuesday.