The origin of the margarita has never been pinpointed, but whoever thought to combine tequila, cointreau, lime juice and salt and should be given a hearty slap on the back.
For me, margaritas always offer a reason to escape from the grind of everyday life. Many nights of memories have been formed on margarita Monday’s, hanging out with the girls, sipping on drinks, and ending it all with a round of sing-your-heart-out karaoke. But that’s another story.
Let’s be honest though, margarita lovers could have one of these delicious drinks every day of the week and still be craving more. And thankfully, in recent years the trend towards custom margaritas with fresh juice blends and high quality ingredients has been on the rise in Los Angeles. That said, here’s 10 of the best spots in L.A. to check out next time you’re feeling maniacal for a margarita.
El Cholo Downtown
I love dining at El Cholo and I make sure I visit this restaurant in my hometown every time I’m back for a visit. I prepare myself to gain at least three pounds because I’ll eat a ton of chips and salsa, order a two-item combination plate and order a margarita, of course. The classic El Cholo Margarita is always a hit, but so are all the others, so it makes it a little hard to decide on just one. Times like this are when you designate a driver so you can have a couple; I’m much of a lightweight now.
With several locations proudly serving Los Angeles’ need for a salt rimmed drink, Mercado indulges us one margarita glass at a time. I like what they’ve done with the New Fashioned, which is a twist on the bourbon cocktail. I don’t have a bourbon based drink each time I go out, maybe it’s because they think the drink is for my husband, but probably because margaritas are so darn tasty, so this won is a winner.
Did you know that the team behind Cafe Gratitude opened a south-of-the-border style restaurant right here in Los Angeles off Melrose? And guess what, they make killer Margaritas. Of special note, try the “Purista Margarita” made with organic reposado tequila, fresh-pressed lime juice and organic agave nectar. You can “thank us” later. 😉
For those whose ideal margarita-drinking occasion would include flamenco dancers, El Cid is where you want to be. If I had to choose only one of their margaritas it would be the Strawberry Vanilla Bean Margarita because artisanal preserves mixed with lime and agave nectar sounds like a sweet alcoholic treat, with salt.
You know those old lyrics that sing, “I was country when country wasn’t cool?” Well, some might argue that Border Grill was crafting superior margaritas before Los Angeles entered the “mixology” scene. I don’t think you could be let down by their margaritas especially when four of them are between $5 and $7 during happy hour.
In years best, LA Weekly has proclaimed Ortega 120 as having the best classic margarita in Los Angeles, and it’s no wonder. You won’t find any generic sweet and sour mix here, as all blends are made from scratch with fresh juices. For value your best bet is getting a pitcher of their classic house margaritas.
A best of margarita list would be incomplete without the inclusion of Las Perlas. This bar sources mezcal only from family distilleries because of their ability to produce small-batch artisan-crafted mezcals. Between $9 and $11, margarita seekers can order a mezcal based drink with a super cool name and an even better taste.
The man from PBS’ Mexico: One Plate At A Time made noise when he debuted the $100 margarita. I would never pay that much for a margarita, but we should commend Rick Bayless for such a daring move. The more affordable option would be the $14 Champagne Margarita that incorporates cabo wabo silver tequila and homemade limonada. All other margaritas range from $15-100, so while the drinks here are great, this might be the place you splurge after a bigger paycheck.
This San Fernando Valley family-owned Mexican restaurant serves all their margaritas in pint-sized glasses. Their margaritas pack a punch so one Casa Vega Cadillac Margarita or Margaritade Naranja should do the trick.
This cantina serves a handful of margaritas including fresh fruit margaritas where you can choose from one of six fruits. For a flavorful kick I would suggest ordering their Spicy Margarita, which is their El Carmen Classic Margarita, but with fresh jalapenos mixed in. For a $5 El Carmen Classic Margarita, come in Monday through Friday between 5pm-7pm to have your fill.
Where do you get the best margarita’s in Los Angeles? Let us know in the comments below!