When you hear Del Charro, what comes to mind?
a) a bar in Santa Fe
b) rodeos and "colorful clothing"
c) the Golden Age of Mexican cinema (yes, there was one)
d) margaritas of deadly potency
Trick question: It's all of the above.
Let's start from the beginning: a bar in Santa Fe—which actually is the first thing to come up when you Google "del charro."
This is a bar for the people. Friday happy hours are bound to include everyone from ancient-looking grandmothers to tiny, round-eyed children. Fortunately, most of the people you'd be embarrassed to get utterly wasted in front of will make their way to the backyard patio, leaving the serious imbibers to rule the wood-paneled, leather-decorated bar room.
It looks like a man's bar, a cigar bar from the days of yore. But it's also the kind of bar where men drink Blue Moon (why anyone drinks Blue Moon, I'll never understand) and margaritas. Here, a margarita is not a woman's drink—particularly if the woman in question cannot handle a pint glass filled so generously with tequila that it's clear instead of yellowish-green.
That's the silver coin ($9.50). Remember those shirts from ten years ago that people would wear back from Cancun, that had a bloodshot-eyed worm saying, "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor"? Yeah. More like one margarita, two marga—floor.
Still, there's so much unadorned tequila in these drinks that the hangover's not nearly as rough as you'll have with the house margarita, which comes with its own cocktail shaker and bears the all-too-familiar signature of cheap sour mix.
Del Charro is staffed with servers who tend to be friendly and real and jeans-clad. There's a frankness, and even a rough-around-the-edges feel about the place that echoes its namesake: the iconic Mexican cowboy.
The Wikipedia entry for "charro" starts like this: "Charro (from Basque Txarro: bad person, despicable)..."
Awesome. Because if you're already associating with despicable people—hell, the bar is named after them—you certainly can't be blamed for ordering three margaritas and inciting small-scale wars among your friends about water rights and Congressional term limits. Not my fault! The spirit of the despicable charro was upon me!
The Mexican charro, according to Wiki, is more of a roguish cowboy than a despicable person, however. He is given to rodeos and "colorful clothing" and is the subject of the 1940s-50s films that...brought Mexican cinema to the peak of its "quality and economic success." (Let's assume that opinion hasn't been updated since 2001.) And when you Google him, you get this:
also comes up, but it's NSFW, so you'll have to click on the link yourself.)
The Nachos Royale—a big mess of cheese and whatever's underneath it—and the chili cheese fries each deserve a brief mention as the only things standing between you, your margaritas and sudden death. But here's the best part.
True story: This Friday, as afternoon turned to dusk, my friends and I finally left our precious table at Del Charro without an inkling of how popular we'd soon be. A long line of women, all over 50, stood tapping their feet and giving dirty looks to the bar's bouncer, who looked just this side of 21 and a little scared.
"There's a table!" a gray-headed woman near the end of the line, which spilled almost into the street, shrieked as we filed out. "They're leaving!"
It felt just like leaving the swankiest club in New York...probably feels.
101 West Alameda
daily 11:30 am - midnight