Casa Chapala opens in larger location with tequila tasting room

Growing up in Central Mexico, Guadalupe "Lupe" Barragan worked in the fields of the blue agave plant, which is the base ingredient in making tequila.

Now Barragan has taken his knowledge of the harvesting, distilling and producing tequila to his newest restaurant, Casa Chapala Mexican Grill and Tequila Bar, which opened March 21 at 9041 Research Blvd., Ste. 100, after relocating from Anderson Lane.

The Barragan family first opened the restaurant seven years ago after moving to Texas from Central Mexico. It owns another location on San Jacinto Boulevard in downtown Austin.

In this new location, Barragan said they added a "cata"—a tasting room, from the verb to sample—to allow patrons to try more than 200 varieties of tequila. The bar area features chairs made from repurposed barrels and table for tastings.

"It's a very educational visit to learn about the different types of tequila and different processes to make it, which are unique by family," Barragan said, adding that making tequila is usually a family business in Mexico.

During happy hour and other special events, Barragan dons his Tequila Man getup of a harness with two dozen shot glasses, lime juices and other mixes to serve shots of tequila. Customers may also choose to try a tequila flight and margaritas made with fresh-squeezed juices.

The restaurant is also known for its lunch buffet ($9.95) and molcajetes, which are meats and vegetables cooked and served in the namesake volcano stone mortar and pestle. Casa Chapala also makes its salsa right at the table for customers to choose their level of heat.

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