The Border Cafe vs. Margaritas

1203443212Whenever my carless friends and I rent a Zipcar, we always seem to find ourselves at a chain restaurant. Something about being behind the wheel brings us back to our suburban roots, and we want to pull into a parking lot and wait at the bar with one of those coasters that vibrates when our table is ready.

I’ve recently been on a run of chain Mexican joints and after a day of outlet shopping on Saturday, we decided to hit Margarita’s in Waltham. While we sat at the bar, we had a conversation about which is better: Margarita’s or Border Cafe?

They aren’t exactly the same. The Border Cafe opened in Harvard Square over 20 years ago as a Tex-Mex restaurant. Eventually, the menu expanded to include Cajun offerings like jambalaya and etouffee. Margaritas was opened by two former employees of Chuck’s Steak House in the early 80s. The New Hampshire-based chain sticks with the theme, sending its employees to Mexico to learn about the food and culture.

My personal favorite of the two is Margaritas. I’ve been to the locations in Mystic, CT and Waltham and have never had a bad experience. The bartenders are always friendly, offering chips and freshly-made salsa as soon as you sit down, and whipping up a delicious margarita quickly. The food is above-average as well. Because I tend to eat my weight in chips, I like the not-too-huge taco plate.

So what’s your preference? Is there something at the Border Cafe that would make me change my tune? Let me know, and I’ll rent a Zipcar and head to Saugus to investigate.