Tin Lizzy Cantina is one of the Vista’s newest dining options, offering up a “hot mess” of flex Mex food and an estupendo – marvelous – selection of tequilas and margaritas.
Opened in October in the space that used to be occupied by Tsunami (which moved down a few doors to a larger location), the restaurant is the 12th in the Georgia-based chain but the first on this side of the state line.
“We’ve been very welcome in Columbia,” said manager Calvin Miner, who’s been at the location since it opened and has been in the restaurant industry for 10 years. “This was something that we needed. If you look at our menu, some of our tacos have things like tater tots. Our Southern comfort taco has fried pickles on it and goat cheese. We took Tex Mex and flipped it on its ear and did it our own way.”
The same could be said about the bar.
Authentic license plates that have been retired were purchased to be assembled as not only the bar runner, but also as part of partition.
“Right when you walk in, you see tequila, liquor, big TVs and a very unique bar that you’re not going to see anywhere else,” said Miner. “It’s a very welcoming atmosphere. Our motto is ‘friends helping friends.’ We want to call people by name. Come in and hang out with us.”
Well, assuredly anyone serving up copious amounts of tequila is a good person – even more so when they actually know tequila. The bartenders are trained in the background and history of tequila, as well as the many varying tastes. And with anywhere from 25 to 35 types at their beck and pour, along with 10 signature margaritas, you’re looking to get an education in fun.
“Ninety percent of the tequilas people might not have heard of, so it’s part of what we do here,” said Miner. “We don’t have expensive drinks, but when people see a $9 margarita, they raise their eyebrows a little. But when you look at the ingredients, if people know their tequilas, then they know they’re getting what they paid for.”
Take for example the best-selling thin Lizzy. It’s made with fresh hand-squeezed juices, agave nectar, Agavero (an orange liqueur) and El Jimador tequila, a silver tequila. Another great seller is the ruby sangria, made with Trapiche Malbec, Deep Eddy Ruby Red grapefruit vodka and fresh fruit – “especially this time of year because it has a sweet punch to it,” said Miner.
The ruby sangria is one of the three new drinks and three new shots unveiled by the company. One of Miner’s favorites among the new drinks is the sundown, made with 1800 Añejo tequila, Pama pomegranate and orange juice.
“We didn’t carry 1800 Añejo tequila originally; we brought that in for this margarita,” said Miner. “The Pama takes away from the tequila bite people are accustomed to.
“A lot of people get real hesitant about tequila,” Miner added. “They’ve had bad college nights; they wake up with a headache. So the guys who come up with our margarita recipes, they’ve done a good job of masking certain flavors. So when you try our margarita, you know it’s not run of the mill. We don’t pre-mix anything; we shake everything dry so you get what you’re supposed to poured over ice instead of shaken with ice. That way, we’re not watering it down. So from first sip to last, you’re getting what you paid for.”