You’ve probably heard the news by now: limes are scarce.
Why? An unfortunate confluence of events is happening now in Mexico:
- A vast number of lime trees have been affected by either plague or excessive rain and flooding from late 2013
- It’s low season for limes in a number of other Mexican states
- Blockades by Mexican cartels — yes, seriously — mean that truck drivers are being extorted in Michoacan
About six months ago, we were buying a case of limes from our purveyors for around $35.
This week we paid over $120.
At Verde, we go through a *lot* of limes. As you know, there isn’t a drop of sweet & sour mix in our restaurant. We use the real stuff, every day, in our margaritas, salsa, guacamole, and much more. And we now understand why people are starting to call limes “oro verde,” or green gold.
How bad is it? Julio Bermejo of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco said, “In my 29 years behind the bar I have never seen it this bad for so long.”
Once the prices started skyrocketing, we tried looking at alternate purveyors. In fact, we quickly learned that Costco had locked in pricing agreements that kept their limes at the equivalent of $80/case. We started clearing them out with weekly trips… and now even the behemoth retailer is out of stock, too.
So what are we going to do? In the spirit of transparency, we’ll admit we’ve made a few changes.
First, in the kitchen, we’re using lemon juice instead of lime. As Slate said in obvious tones, “This isn’t rocket science.” We’re making limes available upon request for our tacos. Just ask, and we’re happy to provide them.
Margaritas still get lime garnishes, as do Coronas, but everything else is upon request. And we admit we’re experimenting with our margaritas, too. We’re learning that using up to a 75/25 lime/lemon blend — on a temporary basis — is almost indiscernible.
One thing our guests should take comfort in: We haven’t raised our prices. We believe we still offer the best, freshest, and most authentic margarita in town. It may cost us a little more, but you deserve it.
Oh, and the good news? The warmer weather means U.S. crops will be increasing yields shortly, so we’re hoping that relief is in sight. And a very big cheers to that.