Yo quiero Margarita! If you are a fan of good tequila then Bandito’s in the South Brunswick Square Mall on Route 1 South is the place to be. Located in the old Rumbleseats site, Bandito’s is your standard Tex-Mex restaurant with the standard large sombreros and serapes on the walls but with a big twist. It boasts 112 tequilas and more than 25 kinds of margaritas. In fact drinks alone take up 11 pages of the menu. Jimmy Buffett, eat your heart out.
The margaritas range in price from $6 for a standard, non-frozen concoction, served in a glass big enough to bathe in, to $40 for an exotic. The tequilas span a vast assortment of mixto, which is 51% agave sugar, to the fine aged sipping tequilas that are 100% agave sugar, aged a year or more in oak casks. Definitely not for doing shots. Prices for these reach the stratosphere. I chose a lesser-aged tequila, $12 for 2 oz, and enjoyed a smooth, full-bodied treat. For the beer lover, there is an extensive choice; a 22-ounce brew is $6.
Having surfaced from the array of drinks, my friend and I turned our attention to food. The tortilla chips were served warm and the salsa hot, a fine combination. The menu includes the usual suspects but is expanded to offer edgier dishes such as Ahi tuna and salmon with a decidedly Mexican flair. The prices fit every budget (my drunken chicken fajitas were $13) and with soft drinks at $2.50 with free refills, it’s a good place to bring the kids for something different. In fact, kids under 10 eat free on Wednesdays. Margaritas are half price on Wednesdays as well but I will refrain from finding a link between the two specials.
There was no difficulty getting a seat at 8 p.m. on a Saturday and the wait staff was attentive, even to the point of attending to the needs of patrons not at their tables. The main dining area surrounds the bar and is very noisy. The bar has a 120" projection TV and several other screens around it so there is no seat in the dining room that doesn’t have a view. This is a good thing or a bad thing, depending on whether you are a sports fan or a conversationalist.
Alternative seating can be had on the outdoor patio. This oasis is screened from Route 1 so well that we didn’t even know it was out there until we left by another door. Patrons are also well screened from looking at acres of asphalt in the parking lot. The torches and plantings provide some romantic ambiance and a quieter meal.
The lunch menu is also extensive and offers a nice change of pace from the standard corporate grilled chicken sandwich at the office cafeteria.
Live music reigns Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sports nights are Sunday and Monday, and Tuesday is reserved for the ubiquitous karaoke.
Bandito’s offers something different and something comfortably the same for all tastes. Wear your flipflops, show off your brand new tattoo, and if you can’t find a good meal at a good price, it’s your own damn fault.
Bandito’s, 4095 Route 1 South, South Brunswick Square Mall, Monmouth Junction. 732-355-1030.