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High Tide Rolls Out to Offer Mexican Menu as El Vallarta

Along with the change in name comes a change in menu, but the change in strategy is what owners hope will keep the business going.

It's been a common question heard over the past two weeks: why did High Tide decide to become a Mexican restaurant?

Truthfully, owners Sandy and Bob Hoormann said re-opening as El Vallarta wasn't something that they had planned on, but business circumstances led them to accept the offer of a group who has three other successful restaurants in the state.

"Honestly, it was that or close," Sandy told Muskego Patch on Friday. "We have had so much happening with our kitchen, it wasn't good for the customers. We didn't seek these gentlemen out, they came to us. We wanted someone who had success previously, and these men certainly had that."

Owning two other El Vallarta's in Sparta and Tomah, and a restaurant named Los Nopales in Baraboo, Dave Ornelas Jr., and Francisco Lugo knew another business owner in Muskego, and found out that the Hoormann's were looking to lease the restaurant operations.

"I feel we can be just as successful here, especially as it's a closer location to Milwaukee, and people have a strong liking for authentic Mexican food," said.

Ornelas said in reviewing the facilities, he knew the first place to begin was with color and furniture, so repainting has already begun, and special booths from Mexico have already been ordered. In addition, a mural artist will be used to complete the atmosphere.

It's been that confidence that had the Hoormann's sold, but they made sure to first check out the other restaurants that Ornelas owned, and by all indications it was a go.

"What we've noticed is that they are incredibly focused on the customer, and very responsive to what they have to say," Sandy said. "That's really the most important thing."

Inevitably, the questions have come to Sandy and Bob: what about Tres Locos?

"We've gotten questions from just about everyone who comes in, but we feel there is room for more than one restaurant, and that the menus are different enough. We like Tres Locos, and (owner) Mary Hinners, so while we hope to be successful here, we believe they too can stay popular with their customers," Sandy said.

Hinners had told Patch that Janesville Road construction was putting a dent in her business, and that some nights about half of the clientele were coming in to dine. The location will see more construction next year as the phase I and phase II projects 'meet' at the intersection where Tres Locos is located.

What does differentiate the Hoormann's business is of course the hall, which has been the only facility in the downtown area that can accommodate large groups of 100 or more. What might impact that business is that the menu is not likely to change for those groups coming in, at least not in the near future. Ornelas explained that they would likely work with groups who have requests other than Mexican food, but for now they need to focus on what's on the initial menu.

For those of you wondering, that does mean the fish fry will no longer be offered. However, Ornelas said they would eventually work in fish tacos and other more authentic dishes on Fridays. The menu does include vegetarian dishes and gluten free choices among traditional fare.

The banquet space is also likely to be used more for restaurant space, and the booths ordered will also be placed there. However, the Hoormanns explained that groups like pool and dart leagues, and acts like Pete Sorce and the Swing Explosion would still be a part of the restaurant's offerings.

Hours for the restaurant have been expanded to 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday - Saturday, and until 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Brandon Karpowitz October 22, 2012 at 11:59 AM
2 Mexican restaurants, 3 pharmacies and 5 Auto Parts stores. We've become little Tijuana lol Sure hope this doesn't hurt Tres Locos. Not much has been able to survive in that location. Actually not many bars and restaurants survive in Muskego period. My only real comment on the El Vallarta is the signs they put up. Not sure how those got approved considering how strict Muskego has been on other businesses (Kohls refresh for example). Nothing about them says "Prairie", they say more "10th and Greenfield" and don't fit into the landscape at all.
Dan B October 22, 2012 at 01:10 PM
I ate there last Monday, their opening night and the food was much more authentic than Tres. The fajitas were outstanding. Came out sizzling. The seafood enchiladas where loaded with crab and shrimp. I will defiantly try it again.
Concerned Citizen October 22, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I agree with you Brandon. Such a shame that we have 2 Mexican restaurants so close and I hope it doesn't affect Tres Locos either.
SRTSIX October 22, 2012 at 04:39 PM
We stopped in on Thursday. Don't know what the accompanying photo here is, but it sure isn't of this restaurant, although that's the implication. It was dingy, too bright with overhead light, and the chairs were of the banquet variety. There was an alcove behind our table littered with cords, tools, and a mop. Bar was empty, but we sat and ordered two margaritas...an ounce (it was measured out in a shot glass) of tequila was followed by a pour from an industrial-sized jug of green mix. No triple sec appeared to be added. Couldn't drink the rocks margarita, but sipped on the strawberry. At our table, we had no utensils and though someone went to find some, after 5 minutes we got up and located some ourselves. Salsa was runny, sour-ish and tasted of tomato juice. Guacamole had a nice taste. Fajita beef was ropy and too tough to chew, no cheese was served with them, and the tortillas weren't warm. Seafood enchiladas were mushy and actually cold in the middle, although the plate itself was scalding. The meal was a disappointment. Moments later when we arrived at Tres Locos, we were lucky to get the last spot in the parking lot. Bar and dining room were rocking and the lights were dim. Our margaritas were strong and hand-shaken, our salsa chunky and fresh, and our shrimp con crema was spot-on. Count me in with Brandon and Concerned Citizen who hope that this new business won't affect Tres Locos. They have been a wonderful addition to us here in Muskego for years!
Denise Konkol (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I ate there Saturday and found the food fresh - can't always taste each vegetable in a chimichanga, but in this case I did. Took a bit longer than I would have desired, but I think that's a matter of getting more staff. People were extremely nice.
Denise Konkol (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 03:07 PM
There are 3 other restaurants in the state, and the photo is from one of them. These are the tables that have been ordered for the Muskego location. Interior improvements are the first on the list.
Laura Nowak October 23, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Does SRTSIX work/own at Tres Locos? Sure sounds like a bashing! I haven't been there (El Vallarta) yet, but will be going soon, and from my many trips to Tres Locos, it shouldn't be that hard to top it or be on par with it!
Ken Haima October 24, 2012 at 12:50 AM
Ate there tonight. Took 10 min for any waiter to notice us and ask for drinks. ( Why? There were 4 empty tables near us.) Two tables came in after us and were waited on and served before us. They brought our chicken enchiladas and shrimp enchiladas. We had no forks, as previously noted by another customer. The waiter said he would return with forks. After waiting a few minutes, and looking around for him, we decided he had disappeared and I found some utensils myself. When this happens to you, look to the right of the bar....they are on a serving table. Better yet, do not bother. The chicken enchiladas were average. Excellent green sauce, seasoned nicely, but ruined by using fried chicken bits. Little hard nibs that were disappointing. Was expecting shredded chicken, yes? The "shrimp" enchiladas were horrible. I could not detect any shrimp, only artificial crab in a tortilla covered with a bland ketchup-like red sauce. I could not eat them. The best thing on the plate was the ever present rice. And actually the vegetables were pretty good. If you like quality Mexican style food, do not eat here.
Lisa Ziolkowski October 24, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Had lunch yesterday and I have to admit, it was the best Mexican food I have had south of the viaduct in years!! We were a group of 4 and we tried several different things. Being raised on Mexican food, so many "Americanized" versions just do not cut it. The enchiladas, tostadas, chile rollenoes, tacos and yes even the tamales were outstanding!! Call me nuts but, one of the biggest factors in rating authentic Mexican food is the beans and rice........theirs was just like Dad's and his was the best!! Congratulations, welcome to the neighborhood, and we look forward to spending many delicious dinners with you!!
chad mccartney October 25, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Had dinner there Wednesday night with my girlfriend. It was so hot in there. Apparently the ac was not working. After 5 mins of waiting at host stand we where told to just pick any spot. All the tables and benches where beat up. The atmosphere in there was banquet hall. Ordered 2 combo meals. Food came fast. But wasn't are food. Waiter came back with the right plates and gave the wrong ones to table behind us. Chips where stale. Salsa was plain. Enchiladas tasted exactly like the tamales which tasted like the beans. Just no flavor what so ever. I won't be back. They will close shortly.
chad mccartney October 25, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Those pictures are not what this restaurant looks like what so ever.
Laura Nowak October 26, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Well, we just ate there this evening, mild wait to be seated, but the place was busy, so nothing wrong with that. Chips and salsa arrived immediately, shortly there after waiter came by to take our drink order, we both ordered medium margaritas on the rocks. Time to look at menu, we ordered our food, it was brought to us Ina very timely manor. I had the carna asada plate, and my wife a combo plate, and a childrens meal. Everything was very good, better than average. Only complaint would have to be the margaritas, they were $10 dollars each, and they had hardly any tequila. For $10 dollars, I was expecting something mush better. We will be. Back, but will be having Corona's next time.
Barb Gardner October 26, 2012 at 03:07 PM
We just ate there last night and I for one will not be going back. The chips were stale and looked like they bought them from Pick N Save. The picture they show above is not at all what it looks like in there. We ordered the chicken and steak fajitas. The meat was not hot at all and it was very tough and chewy. It looked and tasted like left overs warmed up. The flour tortillas came out wrapped in tinfoil and were warm but stiff & dried out. We ordered the fajitas for 2 and we each got only 3 little tortillas. After we got our food our waiter decided to sit down on the gambling machines and play, he never came back and asked how the food was or if we needed anything. We were out of salsa and the one little napkin they wrap around the silverware needed to be replaced. Finally we think it was the bartender who came over and asked if we needed anything because we think we saw us looking around for some help. He went and said something to our waiter in Spanish and then he got up from the machine and went into the kitchen. We finally just took some napkins/silverware from another table. We knew there would be some quirks being a new restaurant, but this was ridiculous. The food was not authentic and definitely not fresh. We won't be going back.
Richard Brunk November 04, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Chad is wrong I have had great meals and service there, and we believe they will be around longer then Tres. If you want good salsa as for the extra hot. I think Chad is a Tres regular
Car-La November 05, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Either they will co-exist, or one will close. I will choose El Vallarta. I would concede that he Margaritas are weak for the cost, but the bar is separate of the restaurant.
Alma November 05, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Ditto to the las comment. I ate there last night the food was just awful I don't know how you can ruin steak tacos but they managed to do so. The chips were stale and Iv'e had better salsa from a store bought can/jar. Needless to say I won't be going back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lisa Ziolkowski November 05, 2012 at 08:07 PM
People, I am sensing Tres plants!! I, too, ate there last night for the 4th time and again, it was excellent!!! Everyone I have brought there agrees with me. How you can say the food is not fresh is beyond me.....it could not have been fresher. Also, to those of you that keep saying it doesn't look like the picture, Rome wasn't built in a day. That picture is of one of their other restaurants, give them time!!
Ash Pack-Zart November 10, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Ate there last night because Tres was packed. Everyone has different tastes. I personally like Tres more. It sounds like having two DIFFERENT places will be a success. I don't see why people are so negative towards one or the other. Here was our experience... we were seated immediately. People at the bar were talking poorly abut Tres to the bartender and loud enough for everyone to hear. That's pretty tacky. There were tons of open, but dirty tables. Margaritas were very bland and weak for the price. The tortilla chips literally tasted like paint. Too Much oil? My enchiladas tasted more like lasagna- the red sauce was very much like Ragu. My husband's food was pretty good. He had burritos with a cheese sauce. We did wait quite a while for how few people were actually there but I wouldn't have minded if the food was worth it. I hope they do well. They seem to have people that like it- it's just not us. By any stretch of the imagination. I will just be more patient next time Tres is packed. Good luck!
Tuffy November 13, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I had chicken chimichangas...awesome food! I'm a beer drinker...so can't comment on margaritas...price seems similar to Tres Locos. They didn't threaten to charge $2 extra for my wife and I to have an extra basket of chips as Tres Locos has done! Hard not to make comparisons when many an angry customer has left Tres Locos disappointed by either food, service, cost or limited hours of operation. I welcome the challenge El Vallarta offers Tres Locos to become better to this fine city which has supported them for so many years! If one were to fail, I'm hoping it is Tres Locos, as they have had their chance and failed the customers, but survived by having the only Mexican restaurant in Muskego. Not anymore!!!
Tuffy November 15, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Had lunch at El Vallarta today. Chicken taco and chicken enchilada and beans for $3.99! Of course chips and salsa free of charge as well. Great meal for less than McDonalds would have cost! Service was very good, and restaurant had a good crowd. Sure hope this place makes it, I've been very pleased all 4 times I've ate here!
Rob Widowski January 05, 2013 at 08:16 PM
My friends family and I have eaten there several times and loved it. We even watched a Packer game there last week. How can you beat 1 dollar tacos and half price drinks throughout the whole game. They have great food margaritas and service. I stopped going to tres locos because of their margaritas food and service not being so good. And sadly enough I went to tres locos more times than I wanted to only because I desired Mexican food and they were the only ones in the area. So now they're not so my vote is for El Vallarta... I will be going there today to watch the Packers win... Go Pack and go awy tres locos...
muskego mom January 16, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Just had lunch there today, DISGUSTING. I wasn't sent here by Tres Locos It's just my honest opinion. Taco Bell is better.
Lisa Ziolkowski January 16, 2013 at 07:56 PM
If you think Taco Bell is better, you clearly do not have a clue
muskego mom January 16, 2013 at 09:26 PM
I know what I ate was tasteless garbage but no need to stress they will close soon enough. You must work there
Lisa P. February 24, 2013 at 03:56 AM
After all these terrible reviews we were a little hesitant to try this restaurant but we were pleasantly surprised. The food was actually quite good and the margaritas were excellent. The server was attentive to our needs too. Needless to say we were at tres locos about three weeks ago. The margaritas tasted like they were made with rot gut tequila and truthfully I've never been overly impressed with the waitstaff and food. I always feel rushed when we go there too. I feel like we no sooner place our orders and the food is at the table. Just give El Vallarta a try because you just might be as pleasantly surprised as we were!
kurt February 25, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Had lunch on Sunday during the race. Place was dead, told my wife this doesnt look good. Sat down at a booth as the only people eating in the place. Waiter was right there with sodas and chips, after having a few chips i thought to myself these chip are stale. Salsa was ok a bit hot for us so we burned through the soda quickly. After waiting ten more mins for the waiter i got up and went to the bar for refills myself.and saw the waiter sittin watchin tv in the bar area. Toldmy wife lets go, but at the same time our food came. Both had; the chix fajitas.looks like i got about a quarter of a chix breast spread out over the whole plate tring to make it look like there was a good portion. Long story short we wont b back.

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