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Margarita's closes

By Howard B. Owens

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant on Jackson Street has closed.

Owner Carlos Hernandez was not available for comment today.

NOTE: If you bought a Margarita's gift certificate from The Batavian within the past 30 days, return it to us for a refund. No refunds will be issued without return of the physical gift certificate and the purchase must have been made in the past 30 days.

Tax issue resolved, Margarita's set to reopen Saturday

By Howard B. Owens

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant, 15 Jackson St., Batavia, shut down nine days ago over an alleged failure to pay state taxes, will reopen at noon, Saturday.

Owner Carlos Hernandez received the keys back to his restaurant today and was busy late this afternoon, working with his staff, getting the restaurant ready to reopen.

He said he's very happy to get the issue resolved.

Through an interpreter, Hernandez said the tax issue was an oversight.

"It was a misunderstanding with the accountants."

Tax officials claimed he owned more than $32,000 in unpaid sales and corporate taxes.

Hernandez hired an attorney to help him straighten the matter out and reached an agreement with New York so he could start serving fajitas and burritos again.

Hernandez also made a point of noting all the positive comments about Margarita's on The Batavian. He appreciates the support.

State seizes Margarita's over alleged tax issue

By Howard B. Owens

Margarita's Mexican Restaurant was shut down by the New York Department of Taxation and Finance just before noon today. The only information from officials on scene was that it was a "tax issue."

Tax Compliance Agent Elizabeth Schmidt, hanging the "seized" sign above, provided The Batavian with a phone number for the department's press office. We're expecting a call back. While Schmidt posted the sign, a locksmith was busy changing the locks. The business won't reopen until all back taxes are paid.

UPDATE: Susan Burns, spokeswoman for the taxation department called: Best Margarita's Grill, Inc. owes taxes on four warrants, with the oldest being back sales taxes from the second quarter of 2009. The four warrants total $32,914.

"We're in the process of working with the taxpayer and the indication is we will work something out fairly quickly," Burns said. "They should be re-opening soon."

The four warrants: Aug. 5 -- $16,166 for sales tax; Aug. 5 -- $1,373, for corporate tax; July 1 -- $64 for corporate tax; and April 2 -- $15,311 for sales tax.

"We always try to work with the taxpayer and negotiate a settlement," Burns said. "It's best that the business stay open for the community and that's what we work to see happen."

UPDATE: WBTA also learned that Margarita's reportedly had additional tax warrants dating back to 2007 that were paid. The total of the paid-up back taxes is $14,246.

'Fajita flare up' sets off fire alarm at Margarita's

By Howard B. Owens

Apparently a fajita skillet at Margarita's got a little hot and set off the fire alarm. 

City fire units were dispatched, but a first responder sounded the "all clear" pretty quickly.

"Dispatch, you can disregard," was the first responder's message. "They had a fajita flare up."

Dispatch: "Copy. Fajita flare up."

If you don't eat much Mexican food and are unfamiliar with "fajita," this from Wikipedia:

In many restaurants, the fajita meat is brought to the table sizzling loudly on a metal platter or skillet, with the tortillas and condiments served on the side.

Additionally, some restaurants keep a flame burning under the skillet.

True fajita is beef skirt steak, but most restaurants also serve chicken and shrimp fajitas.

Margarita's gets more blogger kudos

By Howard B. Owens

Recently, we did a post in praise of Margarita's carne sada tacos.

Today, we come across the blog post of a traveler who stopped in Batavia and found herself at Margarita's.

So you look through the list, and you think about a few things. You think about the fact that you're wearing your Patriots jersey still, and whether or not you want to walk into a sports bar in New York. You think about the notion that your husband is from Dublin, and whether or not you want to know what an Upstate Irish Pub might turn out to look like. You think about whether you ever, ever, ever again want to eat at Applebee's.

Then you take a deep breath, and you go to Margarita's.

And do you know where it turns out you can get the best Mexican food north of the Rio Grande?

Batavia, New York.

Who would'a thunk it?

Well, I'm not sure I'd go that far.  There's a lot of land immediately north of the Rio Grande and it's well populated with Mexicans.  Though, Margarita's darn good and we'll probably have our launch party there Thursday.


Street tacos found in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

During our years as residents in San Diego, my wife and I developed a strong preference for "street tacos".

You might say, street tacos are a Tijuana delicacy. If you visit any town immediately south of the San Diego border, you can buy street tacos.

Where you do you get street tacos?  On the street, of course. In New York, you find hot dog stands on many corners.  In Tijuana, there are taco stands.  What they serve mainly are grilled steak (spiced and called carne asada), tomato, white onion and cilantro piled on two small corn tortillas -- adding anything else to a street taco is like making a martini with vodka instead of gin ... it's just not as good, not as pure (and absolutely forget chocolate or apple).

A lime on the side is nice, but not required.

Of course, throughout most of California you can find many restaurants and taco stands that serve street tacos.  In New York, not so much.

The closest thing we've found so far (after much searching in the Rochester area) is at Margarita's on Jackson.  Printed on Margarita's menu is an item called tacos de asada.  When ordered, you receive two or three (I've been there twice -- got two once, three the first time) tacos -- double corn tortillas piled with carne asada.  The tomatoes and onions are served on the side with green sauce.  To get a true street taco, you must carefully fork out the onion and tomato, leaving the green sauce behind.  There is no cilantro. :-(

That said, I'm very happy I found Margarita's.

Here's one of the great things about Batavia (among many we've found so far) -- lots of family owned, non-chain restaurants. We've been to three of them so far (Margarita's, Jackson Street Grill and Central BBQ) and they've all been a treat.

There's nothing particularly wrong with chains, of course. They have their place and serve their purpose, but nothing beats a good meal at an independent restaurant.  Here's to hoping the city leaders act responsibly to protect Batavia's family restaurants.  They are important to a community's identity and help give it it's own flavor.

Leave your restaurant recommendations in the comments. I want to try them all.

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