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VIEWFINDER: Crowds Pack Milagro for Cinco de Mayo

The Cantina's red-hot fiesta drew a big gathering -- employers should expect lots of "sick days" to be called in Friday.

The fiesta was on at last night in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Though the restaurant was open all day, the party really picked up after locals finished the work day. A streamlined appetizer menu including chorizo chicken wings and a bacon-wrapped hot dog tempted a few but, let’s face it, most people were there for a liquid sort of refreshment.

Coronas and prickly pear lemonades replaced cell phones as the compensatory thing to palm. Shots flew out of the bar like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino film, only these were of the high octane variety and didn’t result in a pile of bullet-riddles corpses. Terribly incriminating quotes dribbled from mouths to a point where my conscience actually prevented me from taking further notes.

A decidedly coherent Steve Hubbard chose to celebrate the holiday at Milagro Cantina “because of the obvious reasons...it’s new, hip and fun with a good Mexican flavor.”

Coworkers from a local car dealership, Jennifer Guest, Patricia Perez and Jennifer Scott, come to Milagro every Friday for happy hour and often order the Laguna, a 32-ounce margarita with an upside-down Corona floating in it. They happily claim responsibility for its popularity by promoting it to other bar hoppers.

Everyone was working tonight. Servers in sombreros gracefully wove their way through the packed crowd in both the bar and the main dining area, which was cleared of the regular tables replaced by the standing-only cocktail variety. Server Jenna Boyle who also works at Pyramid Brewery is used to these types of crowds and wasn’t the least bit fazed by the chaos. Bartender Rosa Freitas seemed downright cheerful as she mixed what must have been the thousandth Laguna of the night saying this was exactly what they were all expecting.

Gary and Johanna Szeredy made the trek from Bellevue to Kirkland specifically to hang out at Milagro Cantina. “The Eastside needed an upscale Mexican restaurant,” says Gary, who picked Milagro over his other choices including and Las Margaritas. They raved about the chorizo chicken wings and the fritters on the special menu.

Not everyone was impressed with the food, however. Outside on the patio, a man only willing to go by the name on his shirt, a Mr. Will N. Dowd, claimed he was only at Milagro because it was a good bar close to home. His older button-down friend, who also wished to remain anonymous, thinks Milagro needs to step up the food quality if it is going to stick around in Kirkland. A word to the wise: it’s never a good idea to make a food critic judgment on a night when your palate has been seared by copious amounts of alcohol.

The party looked like it might just rage on until closing at 1 a.m., quite possibly setting some sort of world record for decibels reached in an enclosed space.

As I regained my hearing in the cab ride home, sober, hungry and ruminating over which quotes I could possibly reprint in this article, I decided that the imbibers of Kirkland were a friendly lot who might appreciate a bit of grace from this local journalist on their night out. Salud!

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