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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Tacos, tequila spice up downtown

Borracho Tacos and Tequileria, which opened last fall, serves house-infused tequilas and south-of-the-border specialties. (Adriana Janovich)
Borracho Tacos and Tequileria, which opened last fall, serves house-infused tequilas and south-of-the-border specialties. (Adriana Janovich)

Take a sip of the unaged Milagro Blanco, and “You should be tasting a citrus-y brightness and floral notes,” said Garrett Wellsandt, general manager of Borracho Tacos & Tequileria.

The new street-style taco and tequila bar opened nearly six months ago in downtown Spokane with six signature $2 tacos and more than 70 types of tequila, including a dozen that are infused in-house with fresh fruit, herbs, peppers or berries. If you’re overwhelmed with all of the choices or don’t know tequila as well as Wellsandt, he’s happy to give recommendations.

“The orange tequila as a press” – a shot of the house-infused tequila with 7 Up and soda water for $8 – “is probably one of my favorites right now,” he said.

He likes the cantaloupe press, too: “I could drink that chilled on a hot day all day.”

Borracho – which means “drunk” in Spanish – is already gearing up for its first summer season, putting the finishing touches on its patio. Accessible from the bar through a roll-up, garage-like door, the outdoor seating area includes a 12-foot, custom-made fire feature, full-service bar and outdoor TV viewing.

With outdoor seating temperatures still a few months away, Borracho is making more indoor plans, too. It aims to expand its menu, offering lunch and catering services, and start its own tequila-aging program. Oak barrels already line a wall in the back-bar area, anchored by a large, red work of art depicting a symbolic Day of the Dead skull or “calavera.”

The rest of the interior is dark, open and dotted with flat-screen TVs. Exposed brick and distressed wood give the place a sort of industrial, urban and edgy feel. Another skull painting – this one done in black and white – covers the north wall, overlooking booths below.

Borracho opened in October at the corner of North Division Street and West Main Avenue, the former home of Ugly Bettie’s. Owner Jeremy Tangen, who’s also part-owner of the nearby sports pub Fast Eddie’s and the South Hill bar Press, has visited Mexico “probably a dozen times.” He likes Tijuana for its convenience and Puerto Vallarta for its variety – from the beach and mountains to nightlife. But the menu at Borracho was developed by a Oaxacan and features flavors from southern Mexico.

The guacamole is spiked with splash of tequila. The salsa is pineapple mango. Tuesdays, the spicy tacos – chicken, beef, pork, chorizo, tilapia and tongue – are on sale for $1. Monday through Friday, happy hour runs from 4 to 6 p.m., with $3 chips and salsa, $5 house margaritas and $2 pints of draft Modelo.

It’s walk-in, sit-down street food.

“The worst thing about the taco truck is you have to stand outside in the cold,” Wellsandt said. “We thought we could do it on a bigger scale” – and specialize in tequila.

Borracho uses Milagro Blanco in many of its signature tequila cocktails, which are served in mason jars. But the Milagro Reposado, aged six months in oak barrels, and Milagro Anejo, aged 18 months, are sippers, best served neat.

With the Milagro Reposado, “The citrus is still there, but you’re going to get the hotness of black pepper,” Wellsandt said. “It’s a little more earthy.”

The Milagro Anejo, he said, “would be perfect for a whiskey drinker. If you love whiskey but you’re not sure about tequila, this would be a good intro tequila for you. It’s aged in oak barrels the longest, so it’s going to have more oaky, almost leathery, notes. Treat it like a good scotch or whiskey.”

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