The space at 8760 W. 21st St. has seen several restaurants come and go in the past decade — most of them Italian.
There was Semolina, an interesting pasta restaurant that opened in 2000, followed by Dino's, a short-lived Italian place. Italian Garden took the space over in 2003, then vacated it a few months ago.
Now, a new tenant has moved in. Senor Tequila, a small Mexican chain that operated for about a year on south Broadway, opened there several weeks ago.
The restaurant is a bit of an odd dining juxtaposition: casual Tex-Mex served in a dining room with an upscale, Italian aura.
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ON THE MENU: A long list of Mexican favorites, ranging from basic tacos and burritos to carne asada and carnitas. It's Tex-Mex that's more in the vein of Playa Azul and Ruben's than Abuelo's and Jose Pepper's.
The tequila in the restaurant's name can be found in the famous $3.99 12-ounce margaritas, which come in lime, strawberry, peach or mango flavors.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: The dishes at Senor Tequila include generous portions of meat, cheese, beans and rice. Several we tried were plenty tasty as well.
The best was a carnitas dinner ($10.25), with pork tips cooked to crispy perfection then topped with fried onions and served with guacamole, warm tortillas and rice and beans.
We also enjoyed a basic-but-delicious burrito dish ( the burrito supreme steak for $9.99), which featured flour tortillas filled with steak, lettuce and cheese and topped with guacamole and melted queso.
Speaking of the queso, it was a top-rate topping on several dishes we sampled, but served as an appetizer dip ($3.25), it was too thin, and most of it ended up dripped all over our menus and table.
One dish we didn't love as much was the carne asada ($10.25), which was billed as tender beef topped with fried onions and avocado slices but was actually not-at-all tender beef that was rather under-seasoned. A dousing of salt helped a little.
Senor Tequila also serves a slightly lower-priced lunch menu from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. We sampled a delicious lunch chimichanga $7.25), stuffed with beef, deep-fried then topped with a generous helping of cheese sauce.
AMBIENCE: The restaurant's interior is beautiful, with classy booths and warm colors — but it's an odd atmosphere for Tex-Mex.
PRICE RANGE: Dinner entrees are mostly $8.99 to $12.99. Lunch plates are $6.99 to $8.99.
SERVICE: Prompt and friendly, though the servers don't seem to be quite up-to-date on the extensive menu.