The Spot: TQLA
1840 South Val Vista Drive, Mesa
The Hours: Happy hour at TQLA is from 2 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 p.m. until close on Friday and Saturdays.
Perfect for: Fruity margaritas and satisfying, cheesy appetizers.
The Interior: TQLA is located at the Dana Park shopping center in Mesa, very close to Gilbert. There's a small patio, but it was too hot to sit outside on the Friday afternoon we visited, so we opted for the bright bar area, right next to the dining room. The place was nicely decorated, with huge red chandeliers and plenty of seating. We were surprised by how many people were already enjoying happy hour, still early in the afternoon.
The Food: Like many happy hours around town, TQLA offers $5 appetizers, including queso blanco, guacamole, flautas, and street tacos. The tacos come in a lot of different variations: al carbon, al pastor, and barbacoa, to name a few. We were also psyched to be presented a basket of chips and a side of salsa, totally free. The chips tasted warm and fresh, while the roasted-tomato salsa was spicy with a tangy aftertaste.
The nachos ($5) came piled high with queso blanco, black beans, fresh tomatoes, sour cream, and guacamole. We enjoyed that there was nothing complicated about these nachos: classic ingredients thrown together, anchored by gooey queso. We would have liked to see less black bean and more queso, but in general these nachos were satisfying.
The Drink: No surprise, TQLA advertises itself as an "agave bar" with an impressive tequila selection. During happy hour, tap shots are $6, sangria is $4, and house margaritas are $5.
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We decided to try a house-infused seasonal margarita ($6.50), which comes with rotating fruit-infused tequila. The margarita flavors included vanilla, mango, and strawberry jalapeno. The pineapple blueberry came out as a bright fuchsia concoction on-the-rocks in a huge clear glass. We were expecting something too-sweet because of the color, but the margarita's flavor was actually very nuanced with just a hint of tequila taste.
Conclusion: If you're looking for a great after-work margarita, look no further than TQLA. We were impressed by the restaurant's well-organized happy hour and friendly service.
Don't Miss: The seasonally-infused margaritas, which come in a huge serving with a lot of flavor.
Skip This: 5 o'clock traffic on the U.S. 60, TQLA's neighbor.