Old Town Gringos-Modern Mexican, Straight up with a Twist!

By Lynette Carrington

Old Town Gringos in Old Town Scottsdale has a new menu and a completely revamped cocktail list! But just as exciting as the new menu items and cocktails are the fun additions to the outside patio. Sure, Old Town Gringos is a fun spot for drinks with friends and live music, but the menu is an engaging and creative mix of fresh Mex and traditional American favorites with fun Southwest twists. Scottsdale.com was invited out to discover everything that is new on the menu.

The Vibe

There is both inside and outside seating at Old Town Gringos. I’ll go out on a limb and say that outside seating is just a little more exciting! Massive sail shades cover the outside patio area that houses a patio bar, a cool stage for entertainment, a large TV/display for advertising and upcoming event announcements, televisions, corn hole and Jenga block games and tire swings. In a fun seating twist, tire swings have been implemented alongside the bar. Those in the know may have also seen this fun inclusion at Old Town Gringo’s sister restaurant, Camp Social in Phoenix. The upstairs patio and bar is also shaded with tented booths and open seating that give guests a view of surrounding Old Town Scottsdale.

The Libations

More than 24 new and exciting cocktails grace the Old Town Gringos cocktail menu. Beer, specialty cocktails and mules abound with drink names that are all connected to music somehow. I got a kick just reading the cocktail names and figuring out the musical connections. I tried the “Bearskin Rug” – a tropical drink with Malibu Rum, fresh strawberry puree, pineapple juice and sour. It was light, refreshing and highly drinkable… maybe even dangerously so. I also loved the “Tijuana Talent Show” with Jose Cuervo Tradicional Tequila, Triple Sec, fresh lime juice and blueberry puree. It was a delicious take on a traditional margarita and refreshing for a fall night.

Executive Chef, Willie Nelson (yes, really) came out to tell us about the new menu items at Old Town Gringos. Nelson was previously with Cowboy Ciao and most recently Camp Social. He had his hand in developing all the new items and said that although he was originally unsure about the potential popularity of the blackened shrimp tacos, they have proved to be the most popular menu item. The hatch green chile cheese dip is very frequently ordered by guests. These two particular items also happened to my favorites, too.

The Starters – ‘Band Practice’

We started off with O.P.P. (Other. Peoples. Pretzels.) This generous plate includes pretzel bites with sides of queso dip, stone ground mustard and ancho ranch, a collection of pickled cauliflower and a neat little pile of bacon. Try all the dips. They’re worth it! Next, we dug into a hot skillet of queso dip – one of the signature noshes at Old Town Gringos. The dip is orchestrated with hatch green chile cheese topped with pico de gallo and served with thick cut tortilla chips. Our version had the green chile chicken and it was fabulous! This starter is also available with steak, shrimp, green chile chicken, ground beef, chorizo or barbacoa. The hatch green chile cheese dip is simply not to be missed!

Tacos, Sliders and More, Oh My!

Of course, you will find tacos at Old Town Gringos. These versions are more along the lines of street tacos – far less greasy and complimented with fresh ingredients and creative flavors. We noshed on the blackened grilled shrimp tacos, which were outstanding. They boasted firm, yet not overcooked blackened shrimp complimented by a jicama slaw, cilantro and cotija cheese. Other taco varieties include barbacoa, green chile chicken and steak. When ordered as a taco platter, a trio of tacos comes with beans and rice, fries or tater tots. On Taco Tuesday, you can grab that taco platter for only $9! We also tried the hatch green chile mac and cheese which was simply decadent. This version includes hatch green chile with pepper jack cheese over cavatappi pasta.

Sliders are a big deal at Old Town Gringos, too. Slider varieties include black and bleu burger, Philly cheesesteak, blackened California chicken, cheeseburger, mini Chicago dog and slow roasted BBQ pork. We tried the slow roasted BBQ pork sliders and they were sweet, tangy and tender. It was complimented with a pickled red cabbage, a bit of pico de gallo and a nice touch of sweet pineapple. Sliders are served with beans and rice, fries, a side salad or tater tots.

The ‘Lilith Fare’

A variety of salads are available on the all-salads “Lilith Fare” portion of the menu. Selections include “The Talent Show,” “Teenage Riot,” “Jenni 867-5309” and “Juke Box Hero.” Jenni gets my vote with arugula, strawberries, pecans, blue cheese and raspberry vinaigrette. I wonder if the Old Town Gringos servers expect guests to sing the “Jenni” song when they order that salad? That would be a fun way to order dinner. Any of the salads are also available as a wrap, with a small additional charge.

For dessert, we enjoyed a white chocolate macadamia nut skillet cookie topped with vanilla ice cream. It was fabulous. Be forewarned, you’ll need a few people to help you eat it. It’s wonderful. Stumble on into Old Town Gringos for weekend brunch, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, complete with live music from the patio stage!

Come rediscover an Old Town Scottsdale favorite! Old Town Gringos is located at 4209 N. Craftsman Ct., Scottsdale. Visit www.oldtowngringos.com or call (480) 423-3800 for additional information.