Liluma is a classy restaurant: white tablecloths, smart servers, gentle lighting, ace wine list. Although there's no dress code, it's the kind of place you'd feel awkward entering in sneakers, a T-shirt and day-old bedhead. It's more the kind of place you imagine Frank Sinatra crooning, "I'm going to drink the wine/I'm gonna take my time/And believe in a world that is mine."
Not that Liluma's uppity or anything. It's just that when we see duck confit on the menu and start scrolling through their thick wine list divided by country, region, varietals, etc. we start feeling funny about a certain craving we've carried around all day. It's a feeling better yet, a palpable absence coupled with a stressed, tightened-deadbolt feeling in our brain that aches for the kind of release that only a certain something-something can loosen. In the immortal words of Chuck Rio in his classic west-coast instrumental: "Tequila!"
A burger and a margarita is what we really want tonight, and it's not necessarily the combination most associated with Liluma. At least one would think.
But then, lo, tucked on the last page of the wine list, under the heading "A Few Special Things," is one very special thing: Tazu's Margarita (Like No Other). While the rest of the restaurant sips medium-bodied Côtes du Rhône (or some variation thereof), we'll have a full-bodied, freshly born margarita, served with a straw, on the rocks and in a pint glass. Woot-woot!
And then, as though the storm clouds have parted to reveal a golden sunbeam, on the menu nestled between the grilled Kobe beef sirloin and the duck confit is a gosh-dang cheeseburger! And not just any cheeseburger: Liluma's burger, served with white cheddar cheese, house slaw and pommes frites. Serve us up a burger and margarita, chop chop!
There are many ways to enjoy a margarita. One is suggested by Atlanta rapper Lil' Keke, in a cameo during Big Pokey & Chris Ward's track "Bang On": "In my two seater/With my black heater/Moving fast as a cheetah/Syrup and margarita." Jimmy Buffett recommends a different approach: "Nibbling on sponge cake/Watching the sun bake/All of those tourists covered with oil." We like ours like this: "Chomping burger cooked rare/Feeling somewhat debonaire/White cheddar not Velveeta/ Chugging Tazu's Margarita."
Regardless, each method moves toward the same end, explains Tim McGraw: "I don't need somebody new/I just can't be alone tonight/So Señorita Margarita/Let me hold you tight."
Bartender Steve Marshall makes Tazu's Margarita with Jose Cuervo Gold, a touch of cointreau, lime juice, sweet-and-sour mix and a secret special ingredient, a splash of Stella Artois beer, which adds a little mystery fizz that we couldn't place until we confronted him.
We drank a second one, and the deadbolt was released, along with any leftover guilt we had at going blue-collar at a white-collar joint. You should try it. It feels a little naughty, and seems as though the rest of the diners are secretly turning up their noses at you. But then, you know what? It's our Saturday night. We'll do it for the same reason Atlanta rappers the YoungBloodz do it: "One hit and it's over/The girl's addictive/We stay at the bar/'Cuz she ain't that expensive."