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Food & Drink

The Mambo Taxi is So Iconic, You Already Know It’s Time to Order One


What does it mean to be iconic? Surely, ubiquity plays a part, but it also has to be coupled with some other aspect. After all, we don’t consider Walgreens to be iconic, and they’re everywhere. Luxury isn’t it, either, because Target’s bullseye logo is iconic and Target’s just a gussied up Wal-Mart. Nor is it fondness — though that’s aspirational — because everyone f-ing hates American Airlines, though it too is iconic.

If there’s one defining trait, then it’s shorthand. You see that Nike Swoosh (you even know that it’s capitalized) and you know it’s Nike, it’s athletic and it’s time to Just Do It. Similarly, when someone says that they could go for a Mambo Taxi, it’s shorthand for an evening at Mi Cocina.

I don’t remember the first time I ate at Mi Cocina. It was in the early ’90s, I know that much, and it was at the Preston-Forest location. The Eckerd was still there on the southeast corner of the intersection, waiting to be replaced by a Walgreens, of course.

It feels like it was probably summer, but that’s probably because every visit to MiCo when I was a child felt like a summer night with after-dinner sunsets and time to play on the concrete hippos outside. It had to have been cold at some point, but that’s never how I remember it.

It would be a few more years before I would have my first Mambo Taxi, but even growing up, I knew that this frozen drink with dark red swirls was important because it was on nearly every table.

The Mambo Taxi is the iconic frozen margarita of Dallas, which is no small feat because the frozen margarita is the nationally iconic drink of Dallas. But that double whammy of infamy is built on the back of a Tex-Mex empire that’s eschewed the traditionally low-key aesthetics of your typical enchilada spot in favor of a vibe that’s largely Dallas’ flashy id in restaurant form. To call Mi Cocina a Tex-Mex spot is to do it a disservice to its largess. MiCo is MiCo, in all its shine and price and buzz. That it’s still an hour-long wait on a Friday night in West Village or HPV after more than three decades and nearly two dozen locations says that no matter any kvetching over the wait or the price of the fajitas, there’s still great demand.

Would that clamoring be there without the Mambo? It’s hard to envision. That perfect mixture of Sauza Silver Tequila, lime juice and sangria elevates the famed frozen marg to a sweet nectar that dares to hide its worst intentions. ‘This could not sting me,’ the first-timer thinks. If you don’t have a regrettable story that starts with a night of Mambo Taxis, are you really a Dallasite?