Macho Tequila’s is a gourmet Mexican restaurant on Greenbrae Drive and Sullivan Lane in Sparks. Danny Boy, owner and chef, works 18 hours a day, seven days a week serving up innovative takes on Mexican classics.
Warm Décor Welcomes All
The restaurant, like many Reno/Sparks gems, is located in a small strip mall. My fiancé and I sat down to eat just after 8:30 p.m. on a Thursday night. The restaurant’s sign outside, which needs a little TLC, is a sure sign that culinary magic happens within. Though the rule is not exhaustive, I tend to find that restaurants that spend more time and money on their food have less time and money to spend on things like fresh signs.
Upon entering, the aesthetic inside is vibrant and eclectic. Photographs of movie stars, kitschy desert decorations, and warm colors don the walls. A photograph of El Santo, world-renowned luchador, is perched behind the bar. Danny Boy explained that El Santo is sort of the Mexican Superman, at least to some.
Twists on Mexican Classics
The chips and salsa, complimentary,by themselves are worth the trip to Macho Tequila’s. The chips are fried in-house and get served warm. In fact, everything is made in-house. The medium green salsa tasted vibrant and fresh, with ingredients that appeared to be cilantro, onions, tomatillos, jalapeño, and a touch of salt.
The mild red salsa was one of the more thought-provoking foods that I’ve eaten recently. The red variety tasted of tomatoes, toasted chilies, cumin, salt, and some mystery spice that I couldn’t place with certainty. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the mystery spice is small amount of ground clove. When we asked our server what was in it, she returned from the kitchen with the best response, “Danny Boy says the secret ingredient is passion.”
My fiancé ordered the camarones al Mojo de Ajo ($15.99). The dish is composed of tender shrimp sautéed in a sauce of onion, garlic, butter, jalapeños, and cilantro. Upon being served, I was pleasantly surprised to see that wedges of lime and orange were also a part of the dish. I enjoy lime and lemon in most dishes, but I’m always impressed when a chef makes tasty use of other citric fruits like the orange in my fiancé’s dish. Danny Boy did not shy away from the garlic or citrus. My fiancé and I agreed that it was light, fragrant, and delicious. The side of rice was wonderfully fluffy, and mildly flavored with carrots and chilies. The refried beans weren’t bad, but I usually prefer a zestier variety.
My first order was for the green pozole, a pork and hominy soup, but they were out. I don’t fault them at all as we sat down to eat an hour and a half before closing. Next, I ordered one of my childhood favorites, the chimichanga ($12.99). I selected shredded beef for the deep-fried burrito. It came topped with guacamole, sour cream, tomato, and cheese. In addition to the tender and tomato-y beef inside the chimichanga, there was what seemed to be a blend of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. The chimichanga was served wonderfully crisp and piping hot. I longed for a higher heat salsa or hot sauce to add to the dish, but generally, I thought it was flavorsome and well-executed. The tomato flavor in the beef was different from other varieties that I’ve tried, and I enjoyed it.
The Story Is Really About the People
Our server, Yezena Guillen, a lifelong local, started working at Macho Tequila’s just two weeks prior, but you wouldn’t know it from her professionalism and friendly demeanor. I asked her questions about this and that, and she happily indulged me every time. We talked about growing up in in the Reno/Sparks area and how our beautiful region has changed over time.
After finishing our meal, we got to chat with Danny Boy. He is from Aguascalientes, Mexico. He learned to cook alongside his grandmother at her small food cart. They served old school street food, tacos, and quesadillas. Danny Boy fondly remembers long lines at their cart and the occasional backhand from his grandmother when he botched an order. He achieved one of his dreams by serving his grandmother at Macho Tequila’s before she passed away. May she rest well.
Danny Boy has been working 18 hour days, seven days a week for nearly six years. He is looking to hire additional servers, bartenders, and cooks. If you would enjoy working for an employer who writes his own recipes, cooks everything from scratch, and treats his employees with respect and care, Macho Tequila’s would like to hire you.
Danny Boy’s new menu will debut soon. It will feature an al pastor burger with pico de gallo and avocado atop a gourmet roll. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be first in line.
Macho Tequila’s is located at 2144 Greenbrae Drive in Sparks. They are open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call in your take-out order to 775-870-1177.