Since learning about the humungous margaritas and free happy-hour nibbles at The Amigo Spot in Hotel Circle in Mission Valley, it finally floated to the top of my list for appraisal.
The restaurant sits off the beaten track for locals, but not so much for tourists staying at the nearly 60-year-old Kings Inn, which is also home to the more popular breakfast-lunch diner, The Waffle Spot.
That restaurant was recently remodeled along with the hotel’s rooms and lobby. The Amigo Spot, however, remains colorfully frozen in time with the exception of a new donkey mascot standing at the entrance and a few flat-screen televisions perched over the bar area.
This used to be a steakhouse called Kings Grille. It was supposedly fronted by a mini-moat and faux drawbridge before its current owners converted it into a Mexican restaurant in the mid-1990s. As was the case when it opened, and still is now, the place takes its margaritas very seriously.
They’re available in small, medium and large. The latter weighs in at 32 ounces and contains a generous splash of Triple Sec and three Torada Silver Tequila shots, depending on the bartender or waiter you ask. Priced normally at $15.50, you can get giddily drowned in one for an easy $13 during happy hour.
I was leery over whether my gut could solely handle that much boozy liquid in a fairly short visit. So I got a St. Archer IPA on draft for $5 and shared the oversized margarita with my companion.
It came as no surprise when our waiter told us the drink’s mix is made in-house. We were immediately impressed by its natural citrus essence and balanced tang. Indeed, a dangerously easy margarita to drink had I ordered it only for myself.
While looking over a menu of reduced-priced appetizers falling mostly within the $4 to $8 range, our curiosity was piqued by a small table on the other side of the room. Lo and behold, it was free munchies, which I rarely encounter anymore along the happy hour trail.
So in addition to ordering fresh-made guacamole and a decent chicken quesadilla, we augmented our snack fest with complimentary mini chimichangas and small piles of raw veggies that received heavy swipes through Amigo’s addicting house-made ranch dressing.
All told, we ate and drank exceptionally well for $30, and with a free trip into the last century thrown in as a fun bonus.
The margaritas use a bright and citrusy house-made mixer that is exceptionally refreshing. Draft and bottled beer choices are limited to Corona Light, Pacifico, Dos Equis Amber and St. Archer IPA. The wine list is negligible unless you’re a fan of the Sutter Home label.
The complimentary, mini chimichangas filled with rice, beans and cheese offered a pleasant and unusual smoky flavor. From the happy hour menu, an order of guacamole appeared and tasted freshly made, and the pulled chicken inside our quesadilla was tender and plentiful.
You can essentially eat for free if sticking to the chimichangas, raw veggies and house-made ranch dressing on the small buffet table. Drinks and regular appetizers, however, are reasonably priced, dropping down on average by $1.50.
Aside from a 15-minute disappearance by our waiter toward the end of our visit, he was personable, fast and efficient.
The restaurant and bar are comfortable in the now-outdated style it adopted when opening in mid-1990. The high-back booths are draped in colorful fabrics; chairs are made of rattan; and most the walls are paneled in mirrors.