Most people who grew up in Portland have been to Amigos in the Old Port on several occasions, but many of them tend to think of it as a summer spot because of its outdoor patio. A recent visit, right after a snowstorm, reminded my drinking companion and me that it’s also a fun place to hang out inside and attracts a decent number of people stopping by after work for a game of pool and/or a drink.
Speaking of drinks, we went straight for the margaritas. Amigos doesn’t have a formal drink menu, but the day we were there, they were selling margaritas made with house-infused jalapeno tequila for $7.75. My friend went with the blood orange one, and I opted for the strawberry. Neither of us was disappointed. The jalapeno was subtle, coming across more in the slightly sour blood orange margarita than in the sweeter strawberry one. Portions were generous, and we were particularly impressed by the hefty amount of fresh fruit involved.
Sadly, Amigos’ daily happy hour (3-7 p.m.) does not mean cheaper margaritas. It does, however, mean a selection of $3.50 draft beers. Luckily, the margaritas – the real stars of the show – are absolutely worth the regular price.
I got so excited about the margaritas that I neglected to describe the bar itself. The bar is on the ground level, with a separate dining area upstairs (although all food is available downstairs as well). Every bartender I’ve dealt with there has been super friendly and helpful, even when totally slammed with customers, and the vibe is low-key and relaxed, as any place specializing in margaritas should be. The barstools are backless but extremely comfortable, there are purse hooks under the bar, and the wooden booths are spacious. There are additional seats around the pool tables and plenty of room to maneuver.
The food menu is fittingly appetizer-heavy, but also includes some heartier items. My friend and I ordered the $8 queso fundido with chorizo and a dozen chicken wings for $12, which came with Alabama white sauce and some very salty Korean BBQ sauce, as well as some house-made dilly beans. I’m new to Maine and detest anything pickled, so I’m no expert on dilly beans, but my Mainer drinking companion happily scarfed down both our portions. The food was fine, but as a native Texan, I wouldn’t go back for the food. The margaritas, however, are a different story. Did I mention how much I loved the margaritas?
We finished up our outing with a recommendation from the server to try Amigos’ $8.25 version of a pickleback: a shot of Jameson with a chaser of the house dilly juice – not compatible with a detester of pickled things. Luckily, I still had plenty of margarita to erase that particular memory, but my friend enjoyed hers.
WHERE: 9 Dana St., Portland
PHONE: (207) 772-0772
WEBSITE: On Facebook
HOURS: 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Sunday (kitchen closed on Sunday and Monday)
AMENITIES: Fantastic margaritas made with fresh fruit, pool tables, Big Buck Hunter arcade game (a legal way for you to drink tequila while firing a rifle), Tex-Mex menu items, outdoor patio and live music during the summer.
BOTTOM LINE: Not just a summer venue, Amigos is also a friendly place to hang out on weekdays after work before it’s warm enough for the patio, especially over a game of pool.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No