Bar Beat

National Margarita Day is February 22: Are You Ready to Rita?

Five dollar, five dollar, five dollar jumbo!
Five dollar, five dollar, five dollar jumbo! Photo courtesy of Cyclone Anaya's

In Texas, we're not quite sure why there needs to be a National Margarita Day. Most every day can qualify as a perfect day for drinking our favorite mixture of lime, tequila and orange liqueur. Though its origins may be debated and its recipe tweaked and twisted, we know in Houston that there is a perfect margarita for everyone, so don't be a snob or a perfectionist about it. Just enjoy the drink that makes a bleak February day feel like a vacation in a Mexican resort. And if you want to double your pleasure with some queso and chips, we won't judge.

Here are a dozen places around Houston to get a good margarita for National Margarita Day. This is not an exhaustive list, so please don't beat us up about your favorite not being here. Tell us some of your go-to places, then go have a margarita.

Mucho Dinero:
Craft cocktails have become a thing across Houston and margaritas have gone under the knife as well. With so many talented bartenders and mixologists, the Bayou City has a plethora of unique and creative choices when it comes to our favorite Mexican beverage. However, expensive tequilas and fresh ingredients come at a cost. Some restaurants around town are offering some of their most popular and pricey ritas at a special price for the margarita holiday. Here are a few that will seduce the bills out of your wallet.

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Try "The Greatest Margarita Ever Sold"
Photo by Kenn Stearns
1600 Westheimer
2200 Post Oak
1777 Walker

" The Greatest Margarita Ever Sold" comes from the mind of its creator Sean Beck, the sommelier and beverage director of H Town Restaurant Group. That may be a  bit of a boast, but Beck has the chops to back it up and the blessing of Hugo Ortega himself since this is the only margarita that is served at the James Beard Award-winning chef's three restaurants

So what makes it so great, you might ask? Well, first of all, it has wood aged Anejo tequila from Gran Centenario. Secondly, it has 25 year aged Grand Marnier. Thirdly, it costs $29, so it has to justify that price tag.

Unless you're a hedge fund manager or a trust fund baby, you might have gulped a wee bit at the price. Don't lose hope. You can try "The Greatest Margarita Ever Sold" on National Margarita Day for $15 at all three of Ortega's restaurants and then you can check that off your bucket list. Or have two since it's on special.

If you really want to splurge on National Margarita Day, try the margarita-paired tasting menu. It is three courses paired with margaritas in three forms. We are not sure exactly what that means, but it's Hugo Ortega's menu, so it's probably going to be amazing. The pairing is $58 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Now, that's a bargain.

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Well, shake it up baby, now! Lime twist and salt.
Photo courtesy of Picos

Arnaldo Richards' Picos
3601 Kirby

There are some break-the-bank margaritas at Picos, especially if you're going for the La Billionaira at $75. That's a bit posh for this list, so we'll highlight a few less jaw-dropping beverages. For NMD, the private barrel selection margaritas will be $2 off and it's happy hour all day in the bar lounge and the front patio.

Most of Picos' margaritas are served shaker style- on the rocks or straight up, like The Ultimate($12) or Mr. Blue($10), a rita of El Jimador Blanco, Patron Citronge, orange liqueur, Blue Curacao, and lime juice. The Top Shelf($11), can be served frozen, on the rocks or straight up.

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Chilaquiles will fuel you up for National Margarita Day
Photo courtesy of Picos
Picos has just started breakfast service, so you can load up on huevos rancheros or chilaquiles beforehand to give you strength for margarita sipping early in the day. Breakfast is from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

State of Grace
3258 Westheimer

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Courtesy of State of Grace

If you want to celebrate National Margarita Day with a little Gulf Coast flavor, State of Grace is offering the La Parilla cocktail ($11). Made with reposado tequila, blistered serrano infusion, triple sec, grilled lime, smoked salt and a mezcal floater.

Fruity Fun:

The margarita lends itself to fruit flavors and there is no end to what Houston's cocktail craftspeople can do. If you like a bit of a twist to your rita, try these beauties.

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Orange you glad it's National Margarita Day?
Photo courtesy of Roka Akor
Roka Akor 
2929 Weslayan

This upscale sushi and Japanese fine dining restaurant wows the socks off food critics and diners alike. If you have a hot date for great sushi, you can still partake in the day's margarita tribute by indulging in Roka Akor's Blood Orange Margarita($13). It's a creation of Cimarron Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange liqueur, blood orange bitters, fresh lime juice with a chili salt rim.

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Wine in a margarita? Wine not?
Photo courtesy of Tango and Malbec
Tango and Malbec
2800 Sage

If your meat cravings take you south of Mexico to this Argentine steakhouse for dinner, you can celebrate the day with one of Tango and Malbec's versions. The Malberita ($10) consists of Don Nacho Silver Tequila, Trivento Malbec wine, Cointreau and lime juice. If you happen to make it to the bar for happy hour, Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., you can enjoy a Berries Margarita ($6). It has berries.

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Straight Outta Cozumel delivers an island flair.
Photo courtesy of Moxie's Grill and Bar

Moxie's Grill and Bar
5000 Westheimer

If you've been dreaming of white sand beaches and crystal blue waters, but you've already used up your vacation time for your loser cousin's wedding, The Straight Outta Cozumel, made with Don Julio Blanco Agave Tequila, Texas orange, fresh basil, pineapple simple syrup and fresh pressed lime might be the margarita to help you make it through another work week.

Fiesta Margaritas:

For more than just a meal and a margarita, there are party options for those looking to really celebrate.

Let's get this fiesta started!
Photo courtesy of El Big Bad
El Big Bad
419 Travis

If you're in Market Square and ready to dance, El Big Bad, the world's largest infused tequila bar, will have drink specials, music, and fun. From 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., February 22, its 8th Annual National Margarita Day will include $5 premium tequila shots and $5 Herradura Ritas. Local Latin Jazz musician, Wasi Townsend will perform from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. After that, a DJ will keep the party going. The event is free if you RSVP ahead of time. Check El Big Bad's Facebook for information.

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Go honky tonking on National Margarita Day.
Photo courtesy of Armadillo Palace
Armadillo Palace
5015 Kirby

There are few better ways to while away the day than having a margarita or two at Armadillo Palace and enjoying pork tamales or some Gulf Coast seafood. Are the margaritas good? Well, they're Damn Goode Margaritas ($9). If you want to stick around and boot scoot later in the evening, Two Tons of Steel will be playing the hall at 11 p.m. There is a $20 cover charge for the live music.

Cheap and Cheerful(and Traditional):

For those who want to celebrate National Margarita Day in environs that harken back to its origins, there are numerous Mexican restaurants around town turning out decent versions. While its popularity has led to a steep increase in price at some local favorites, there are still a few bargains to be had and delicious places to enjoy them. These are the places you go to for chips and salsa and a cold margarita with family and friends.

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Cyclone Anaya watches over the jumbo frozen rita.
Photo courtesy of Cyclone Anaya's

Cyclone Anaya's Mexican Kitchen

Founded in 1966 by World Champion Wrestler, Cyclone Anaya and wife Carolina, this longtime favorite claims to be the originator of "Houston's Original Jumbo Margarita" in 1978. As a special for National Margarita Day 2018, its jumbo margaritas  (you know the ones, served in the giant goblet) are just $5, the same price as 1978. The kicker is, you have to buy an entree to get that price. You probably should eat something anyway.

There are six locations in the Houston area, including The Woodlands, so there's bound to be one near you.

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Photo courtesy of Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen
Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen
6401 Woodway
1140 Eldridge Parkway

If you are craving some enchiladas to accompany your margarita celebration, there are few places that can rival Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen. She's not called the Enchilada Queen for nothing. Order some enchiladas and pair them with the house margarita, just $6.50 for February 22. If you're a skinny rita person, Sylvia's version is made with Demetrio Blanco Tequila and is $9. Splurge and have the Perfect Patron($10) for a perfect tribute to margarita day.

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Happiness is a jumbo frozen and chips with red and green sauce.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Del Pueblo
13235 Jones

I am including this restaurant because it's near my house and I can walk home if needs must. And sometimes the potency of their margaritas can take you by surprise after the second one. I am not even sure if it's tequila or moonshine hiding in the frozen mix. The problem is, they taste so good, you don't feel the mule kicking until you're flat on your back. I prefer it frozen.

If you want something a little more celebratory than the usual margarita, try the Mexican Flag. It's a technicolor concoction of frozen strawberry and regular margarita with Midori melon liqueur.

To balance the alcohol, try the shredded pork tamales with chili gravy. That should do it.

Casa Imperial
10923 FM 1960

If February 22 finds you low on funds, there are still options for celebrating National Margarita Day. Casa Imperial has small margaritas for $2.95, until 7 p.m. That's a deal. The beef fajitas are pretty good, too.

Taco Cabana

Admittedly, Taco Cabana's margaritas are kind of lame, but if you're broke, its happy hour offers $3 frozen ritas with actual tequila. Not a lot, mind you, but it's cheap. There's even strawberry for people who absolutely don't want to taste the tequila in their margarita. The food is inexpensive, but the salsa bar outshines everything else. It's not a bad last resort.

Did we mention Cyclone Anaya's has $5 jumbo margaritas for National Margarita Day? We know where we're going.

Photo courtesy of Cyclone Anaya's

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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.