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Check it or Chuck it: Fresh-Mex & Co., a margarita mecca

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To no one’s surprise, college is a stressful time. According to the American Institute of Stress, eight in 10 college students experience “frequent bouts of stress.” Another study done by student marketing firm Dig In in 2020 found that more than 42% of university students had psychological issues where they felt they needed “professional help.”

I’ve dealt with my fair amount of stress and can share plenty of options for finding balance in life. One method? Having an ice-cold margarita (or two) with a few good friends. Fresh-Mex & Co. has you covered in this endeavor. With their BOGO margarita deal, you can get your fix and still have enough money for tacos.

Founded by Amanda and Michael Toussaint, Fresh-Mex & Co. prides itself on using locally sourced and natural ingredients wherever possible. Similar fast-casual establishments in New York City inspired the restaurant. The Toussaints wished to create an experience for “the busy professional’s lifestyle” while still being an affordable and healthy option, per the restaurant’s website.

The Toussaints also come from interesting backgrounds; Amanda has a master’s degree in health, and Michael is a retired Lieutenant of the New York Fire Department.

Two friends, Briana Pereira and Jillian Lombardo, introduced me to this margarita mecca. They have become frequent patrons of Fresh-Mex, often stopping by for lunch before or after our shared class. Briana invited me to attend after class one day, and I immediately became a fan.

“Their food is super fresh and comes hand-prepared. You can get it however you want, made to order,” said Pereira.

“The environment and people are very welcoming. Every time we come in, they remember us and our order. The food is just so great, the drinks are great, and I can’t ask for a better pre-class place to be,” said Lombardo.

Briana (front left) and Jillian (back left) were kind enough to introduce me to this tequila temple. (Ethan Leckie)

So, how was it?

It’s very difficult to screw up Tex-Mex cuisine. Any amalgamation of beef, pork or chicken with rice, beans, copious spices, hot sauces and salsas will do the trick for me. However, Fresh-Mex felt different. The food lived up to its “Fresh-Mex” moniker; it was satisfying, but not in a stuffing-my-face way. The feeling was akin to eating a hearty home-cooked meal without feeling bloated and lethargic.

Fresh-Mex had all the typical fast-casual hallmarks—place your order with the cashier, pay, sit down and wait to be served. The booths are large and comfortable. The interior is surrounded by bright white wooden panels, with faux grass adding a touch of green to the booth dividers. The day’s specials are put inside cardholders placed on each table. The atmosphere is spacious and minimal, a heavy dose of the urban-industrial chic we’re all accustomed to. Overall, I liken the experience to a slightly more elevated Chipotle.

Now for the main attraction: their BOGO margaritas. Fresh-Mex & Co. has a surprisingly robust series of promotions surrounding margaritas. On Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., all margaritas are BOGO, $9 for their classic and $10 for their flavored varieties. On Tuesdays, the promotion runs the entire day, and if that wasn’t enough, they also offer late-night happy hour seven days a week from eight p.m. to close. If you’re unlucky enough to come to Fresh-Mex with no margarita discount, I only have two words: skill issue.

“Okay, how are the margaritas?” I hear you asking. They’re all quite delicious, but their watermelon and classic versions are my favorites. Jillian and Briana would point you toward the jalapeno margarita, complete with sliced jalapenos inside the drink. Each version uses the same base of house tequila, lime and orange juices and house-made cane sugar simple syrup. There are also three choices for garnish: sugar, salt or Tajin, a chili-lime-salt seasoning (Pro tip: put it on fresh fruit—delicious!). Fresh-Mex’s margaritas are on the sweeter end of the spectrum, so beware if you enjoy a dryer variety.

Fresh-Mex’s margaritas are part of a series of promotions that are almost impossible to miss. (Ethan Leckie)

Like many of my past reviews, I’ve been to Fresh-Mex more than once. On my most recent trip, I enjoyed their l.i.f.e. (life-inspired food for energy) bowl with carnitas as part of their daily special for $13.99. Along with the carnitas, the bowl was served with black beans, corn, pico de gallo, tortilla chips and cheese (a side of sour cream is provided upon request, which I declined). 

The presentation was deceiving—the portions looked smaller than met the eye. Thankfully, I can confidently say the portion size was more than satisfactory. The only major criticism I would add is that the bulk of the meal consists of rice and beans—filling, yes, but not what I wanted from a $14 meal.

Although the bowl was delicious, I wished for more carnitas and less rice and beans. (Ethan Leckie)

Check it or chuck it?

Check it: One day, I may come across a restaurant I don’t like, but that day is not today. With their emphasis on locally sourced, (relatively) healthy cuisine and a mind-blowing set of margarita promotions, Fresh-Mex & Co. will hopefully serve as a trusted watering hole for college students (of drinking age) for years to come.

Fresh-Mex & Co.

Address: 10281 Mid Town Pkwy, Jacksonville, FL 32246

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Website: https://www.freshmexjax.com/

___

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Ethan Leckie
Ethan Leckie, Enterprise Editor
A Pad Thai enthusiast, NASCAR follower, and Jon Bois fanboy, Ethan Leckie is a third-year journalism major at the University of North Florida, minoring in international studies. He first began his involvement with Spinnaker as a volunteer reporter in the fall of 2021 and currently holds the position of Enterprise Editor. Ethan has always had a passion for writing and hopes to work for a newspaper one day. He enjoys watching YouTube, cooking, and visiting restaurants in his free time. If you see him on campus, ask him about his pieces - he loves to talk about them!

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