Celebrate National Margarita Day Today with 15 of Our Favorites
For whatever reason, some marketing genius decided that February 22 is National Margarita Day.
I can't figure out what significance this day has to margaritas or tequila or Triple Sec or limes. Even the National Margarita Day's web page offers no clues as to why February 22 is so important, leaving me to guess that it was simply one of the last dates left on the grand calendar of National Whatever Food or Beverage You Want to Promote Days that was open.
Except that it's not.
February 22 is also National Cherry Pie Day. Instead of listening to Warrant on repeat and getting depressed thinking about how poor, dead Jani Lane never wanted to be famous for a song he utterly despised, go and drink a margarita. It seems like the lesser of two evils.
Besides, every Houstonian loves a margarita, us included. Here are 15 of our favorites, but let us know your own in the comments section below.
Photo courtesy of El Tiempo Cantina
Sip on the frozen stuff at an old favorite (1308 Cantina) or its new little sister on Navigation, the giant El Tiempo that just opened next door to Ninfa's. But beware: These pretty drinks pack a powerful punch -- especially the frozen ones.
Do not -- I repeat, do not -- go to Cafe Adobe for the food. It's painfully average Tex-Mex at its best. Go for the margaritas and the beautiful rooftop deck at the Westheimer location before it closes for good. Watch the sun set, listen to the bells from Saint Anne's, sip on a fun, fruity frozen margarita (the peach is a personal favorite) and enjoy Cafe Adobe for what it is: a great place to catch up with friends and relax over some $10 tequila and Triple Sec.
God bless Chuy's Texas Tinis and their addictive jalapeño-stuffed olives. These "house" margaritas are always velvety-smooth and served up in a classy martini glass that almost makes you forget that you're dining in a restaurant filled with Elvis paintings and photos of people's dead dogs. During happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., the Texas Tinis are only $6.95. (That seems like a lot for a happy hour price, but these are top-shelf drinks.)
The choices are endless at El Gran Malo.
Photo by Troy Fields
Of course a place that specializes in tequila infusions should have great margaritas, and El Gran Malo makes its bizarre blends with aplomb. There are standards, of course, like a strawberry that tastes like fresh preserves. But be adventurous here: Try a pecan-infused margarita for a warm, Texas twist or a golden beet blend if you're feeling brave.
It wouldn't be a margarita list without 'em.
Photo by Ms. Pants
The original "Club No Minors" still cranks out some of the headiest margs in Houston. And, yes, they're still neon blue.
Goode Co. Seafood proves that a place doesn't have to be Mexican to have good margs.
Photo by Groovehouse
A margarita and a tumbler full of shrimp campechana here, and I'm in Gulf Coast seafood heaven. It's a timeless pairing, like crunchy peanut butter and grape jelly. Both are a little pricey, but they're top quality...plus, you're dining in an old, restored rail car, and that can't be beat.
Set your sights on Hugo's for Sunday Funday with this buffet and a couple of tableside margaritas.
This year's Best of Houston® winner gets points for its tequila selection alone -- which features more than 40 choices, counting its bottles of mezcal. Sommelier Sean Beck dreams up exciting twists on the classic cocktail, like El Sueño Profundo with smoky mezcal, but it's the standard Hugorita for $7.50 that we like best. Created with Sauza Silver, Hiram Walker Triple Sec, simple syrup and fresh lime juice, it's mixed tableside. We also love the Y Porque No margarita for only $5 during its weekday happy hours.
I might get a lot of flack for this choice, but I will defend it staunchly. MB churns out a strong frozen margarita that's as heavy on bright, citrus notes as it is on tequila -- pretty good considering it's a fast-food burrito chain. Bonus points for having a good playground at the West Alabama location and kid-friendly atmosphere that's enjoyable for adults, too, in case you've got the kiddos in tow.
Along with its recent makeover, the original Ninfa's has revamped margaritas, too. Seasonal margaritas like the Winter Spiced blend are available in cooler months, but during the summer we like to be traditionalists. Stick with the old Ninfa's house blend -- they're still cranking out the good stuff after all these years.
This old-school Bellaire favorite has been serving some of the city's best margaritas since 1984. Enjoy the mariachis, one of the most charming things about Pico's, as you down a PicoRita Silver or Gold. Both come in a regular size for $5.95 or a "Mucho Grande" size (48 ounces!) for $15.
Rimmed with stunning black salt, the hibiscus margarita at Sorrel Urban Bistro tastes like the beautiful marriage of a sweet jamaica agua fresca and a tart margarita, making it absolutely ideal for muggy weather.
The secret to the margaritas at Spanish Village was helpfully revealed by Houstonist's Kaylan Tannahill back in 2009: "They do not serve frozen margaritas, rather they freeze the lime juice which fractures when the drink is mixed." Just one more thing to love about the old Medical Center favorite (that, and the queso).
Even back in 2005, we were singing the praises of this classic Heights-area Mexican restaurant (no, not Spanish Flowers -- the other one) and its ICEE-like frozen margaritas. They're only $2.99 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but sit outside on the raucous "party deck" if you're planning on having more than a couple of rounds.
In that same vein, meet Tepatitlan's equally strong margaritas, served up in a trippy location that feels like you fell asleep and woke up in Beaumont, circa 1974.
They're all waiting for you at TQLA...
Photo by Troy Fields
Frankly, I'd be disappointed if a place called TQLA didn't offer excellent tequilas and margaritas. TQLA also happens to serve up some excellent nuevo Southwestern/Tex-Mex cuisine, but even if you're only in the market for a margarita, it's still high on my list of recommended watering holes.
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