Rumor has it that Ojos Locos at 10230 Technology Blvd. E. in Dallas was built solely because of the World Cup and that its owners recouped their start-up costs in record time. Keen on finding out about the buzz (albeit a little late to the party), City of Ate headed to the sports cantina that once was a Bennigan's.
Eric Salzer, director of operations for Ojos, couldn't share financial information about the cantina one way or another, but did say it "opened coincidentally right before the World Cup in March 2010" and that it has a great business around soccer.
The sports bar holds 50 televisions (booths have there own sets) that show all sports, but the restaurant's main focus is soccer and boxing. "No one else is doing that," Salzer said. Ojos Locos is a "great event place whether you're coming to watch UFC fighting, boxing, Mexican National soccer games, or local soccer teams--they're all represented really well," he added.
Three more Ojos Locos locations have opened since March 2010: one in San Antonio; one in Fort Worth; and another just opened in Albuquerque this June. So the place must be doing well if there are four locations now and none existed before last March, right?
Don't take it from City of Ate; believe your own crazy eyes. You'll find Ojos Locos packed on a Friday after work -- it's definitely safe to say the sports bar is doing well. A woman grabbing a drink after work with a friend told City of Ate that she first came to the sports cantina last year late night on a Friday. "It was so packed -- standing room only. The crowd was mostly couples and everyone crowded around the bar."
Ojos Locos' director of marketing, Celia Cody, told City of Ate that the cantina "caters to blue collar Hispanic males" and that it's "a place you can come straight from your work or job site, in your boots, and enjoy cold beer." Cody and Salzer both admitted that the quick comparison is to Hooters. In fact Ojos Locos has become known as the "Mexican Hooters." Where else can you get good cold beer, wings and see pretty girls dressed provocatively? Or chicas as the servers are called at Ojos Locos?
Just as quickly as people make the comparison, Cody and Salzer caution against it. "We're more than that," Cody told City of Ate, "we're a home away from home for our Hispanic male target; the male customers, many who are from Mexico, can identify with the chicas who speak Spanish [and English] and are just as passionate about the games and soccer like the men are. ... There's more of a disconnect at Hooters" between the servers and the customers. At Hooters, she said "the girls are just serving the men and aren't into the sports like the chicas at Ojos Locos, while the chicas are more interactive with the male customers and talk excitedly with them about the last Barcelona game or the last Mexico National game."
When City of Ate asked General Manager Omar Benitez why Ojos Locos is such a good happy hour spot he told us it has to do with the "really low price points." Happy hour runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, during which time you can get: $5 off 100-ounce Balones; $2 off 60-ounce Balones; $1.95 domestic draft pints; $1 off bottled cerveza; and half-price margaritas and mojitos.
What are balones? It's been a while since college, but wrap your head around the fact that Ojos Locos serves what look like supped up pony kegs coming out of soccer balls (or as their website says, balones are Ojos Locos' "version of the pitcher"). A 60-ounce balón will cost you $11.95 for domestic beer and $15.95 for imported beer. The o100-ounce balones are $17.95 and $21.95 for domestic and imported respectively. (These prices are before the happy hour discounts.)
Ojos Locos also has a tequilero cart with bells, out of which it serves shots of Cabo Wabo, Espolon, 1800 Silver Select 100, Cazadores Reposado; Herradura, Patron, 100 Anos Tequila, El Jimador Reposado and Jose Cuervo Tradicional.
With the drink specials also come cheap eats. On Mondays, Ojos' all bone-in wings are 50 cents each; on Tuesdays tacos al pastor are $1 each; and on Wednesdays boneless wings are 50 cents each. The food specials last all day, not just during happy hour. The tacos al pastor are tiny but flavorful. For a dollar each you can't beat them; and just two with a glass of horchata (sweetened rice milk with cinnamon) or a couple of beers will fill you up. Cody said Ojos Locos is "all about being authentic" and making its food from scratch. You can order street-style tacos like those served on the streets of Mexico. Cody was happy to report that the chefs even use Mexican Coke in the carnitas tacos recipe.
If you're looking for a laid-back, loud, energetic sports bar atmosphere, Ojos Locos' vibe and prices are too good to pass up. All you gringos out there should try it too -- Ojos Locos has a type-in-translation feature on its website, so you can find always find out what everyone was talking about if you don't speak Spanish after you leave the bar.
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Ojos Locos Sports Cantina
10230 Technology Blvd. E. 972-354-LOCO (5626)