Special Events

Frozen or On the Rocks: National Margarita Day 2023

A classic margarita makes any day special.
A classic margarita makes any day special. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam
Every year there seems to be a new National Day for some food or beverage. National Pizza Day is February 9. National Clam Chowder Day is February 15. National Red Wine Day is August 28. And the list goes on all year.  Many of us have become jaded by the commercialism of it all, seeing it as a ploy for restaurants and bars to drum up business for a made up holiday.

But then again, aren't most of our holidays geared toward consumerism? February 14 is supposed to be a Saints' Day (there were several Valentines) but we celebrate it with grocery store chocolates, bears with hearts on their bellies and edible underwear. Personally, National Margarita Day, February 22, is more our style and we're ready to celebrate it with no strings attached.
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Spanish Village has a wide selection of flavors from fruity to spicy.
Photo by Jenn Duncan
The origin of the margarita cocktail itself remains a contested issue. It's possible more than one single person decided that lime and tequila needed a bit of orange liqueur to tone down the tartness. Whether it originated on in Tijuana, Mexico or London, England, the margarita conjures up tropical breezes and a laid-back lifestyle. And no one enjoys that pleasure more than Houstonians. In our city, you'd be hard-pressed to find a bar menu without a margarita of some fashion or other.
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A flight of coctelitos at URBE offers a taste of H Town faves.
Photo by Paula Murphy
Some people are snobs when it comes to their lime and tequila concoction and there is certainly something to be admired in a perfectly crafted cocktail of aged tequila, hand-squeezed lime and expensive orange-infused liqueur. However, we are also fans of the giant salt-rimmed fishbowl filled with machine-made frozen slush that sometimes suspiciously doesn't taste of tequila yet knock us off our feet, even after inhaling two baskets of tortilla chips and sizzling fajitas.

Whatever type of to-kill-ya one prefers, there are plenty variables to be found in Houston margaritas. Whether it's a hand-shaken skinny margarita or a smoky mezcal and lime on the rocks, our city has a bounty of variations. Our balmy (read stifling) weather begs for a frosty, refreshing beverage even if our mothers would prefer we stick to hydrating ice water. It might be 50 degrees on February 22 or a warm 80. Either way, Houston's bars and Tex-Mex restaurants are prepared to celebrate
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Armando's has a margarita fancy enough for the River Oaks set.
Photo by Matt Johns

2630 Westheimer

This Tex-Mex establishment has ten different margaritas to choose from including its classic 17-ounce House Margarita made with Jose Cuervo Traditional Silver, served frozen or on the rocks. It also has the posh River Oaks Rita made with Jose Cuervo Reserve de la Familia Tequila, Patron Cirtonge, fresh lime juice and agave. It gets  further touch of glamor with its house-made "green salt" on the rim and a 24-karat gold lime slice.

Arnaldo Richards' Picos
3601 Kirby

This longtime (39 years) Houston restaurant has an extensive selection of tequila and offers 15 variations of its classic margarita. Guests receive their margarita in a signature neon cocktail shaker accompanied by a stemmed margarita glass so guests can shake and pour as the desire. The Classic ($15) blends Don Julio Silver, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and agave while the La Billionaire made with lime, Seleccion Supremo and Grand Marnier Cuvee du Centenaire 100-Year will free your pocket of $75.

For those less inclined to the billionaire lifestyle, there is the Pico Rita available frozen or on the rocks and in flavors of lime, strawberry, mango or sangria.

1517 Alabama

This Midtown hangout has $5 house margaritas, frozen or rocks, with a chance to add flavors for an extra buck.

Berg Hospitality:
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Patron peeps are in the house.
Photo by Carly Coquoz
The Annie Cafe & Bar
1800 Post Oak Boulevard

B.B. Lemon
1809 Washington

Both of these Berg Hospitality concepts will be visited by reps from Patron Tequila to hand out swag February 22 along with some photo ops for guests. Two special Patron Margaritas will be available at both the swanky Annie and the more casual B.B. Lemon from February 22 through February 25. The St.Rita ($14) is made with Patron Silver, St. Germain and lime juice. The Perfect Rita ($14) has Patron Reposado, Triple Sec, lime juice and agave.

Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse
2101 Washington

This funky and spaced-out lounge is offering several specials including its Hellfire Margarita made with blanco tequila, fresh lime juicer, agave, triple sec, house-made habanero shrub, house-made Tajin, with a topping of passionfruit, raspberry, Grand Marnier and Amaretto for $11. It can be ordered frozen or on the rocks. There's also the Clarified Margarita in a fancy glass for $13 or $7 Margarita Shots for those who are too impatient to finish a whole margarita.

Cowboys & Indians

519 Shepherd

This restaurant is offering margarita deals with an Indian twist. Customers can dive into the Calcutta, made with Jose Cuervo tequila, lychee, agave syrup and lime juice for a deal of the day price of $10.
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The Mid Lane Margarita is a budget-friendly classic at Eloise Nichols.
Photo by Alex Montoya
Eloise Nichols
2400 Mid Lane

For rita devotees on a budget, Eloise Nichols has its signature Mid Lane Margarita for $5 all day. Normally priced at $11, this is one of the sweeter deals we've seen for the margarita celebration. It's made with tequila blanco, lime and agave.

The folks at Eloise Nichols recommend pairing it with the Eloise Burger & Fries ($14) or the Crispy Chicken Sandwich & Fries ($13). We see no need to disagree with that since those are pretty good bargains too, considering all the $20 burgers with NO fries out there.
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Gatsby's Grill has $8 margaritas and an awesome patio.
Photo by Raydon Creative
Gatsby's Grill
2929 Navigation Boulevard

Gatsby's concepts are usually destinations for fat cats trying to impress, networking socialites or young professionals with even younger fortunes. However, its new Gatsby's Grill is more on the casual side and its $8 margarita special is a great way to enjoy the high life without going into debt.

The special is available all day, February 22, for frozen, on the rocks, watermelon or spicy pineapple ritas. And Gatsby's Grill has a large patio with a variety of seating options such as high tops, wrought iron tables, bar stools and comfy sofas.

H Town Restaurants:
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Here's your chance to see if it's truly The Greatest Margarita Ever Sold.
Photo by Paula Murphy

2200 Post Oak Boulevard

Caracol is one of four restaurants from James Beard Award-winning chef Hugo Ortega and H Town Restaurant Group offering special pricing for National Margarita Day. Along with its sister concepts, Caracol will have The Greatest Margarita Ever Sold for $18, a steal compared to its usual $29 tag. It's made with 25-year aged Grand Marnier paired with the agave flavors of a finely wood-aged Anejo Tequila. House margaritas from its sister concepts, the Hugorita, Xochirita and URBErita, will be just $10.
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The Hugorita is a classic.
Photo by Paula Murphy
1600 Westheimer

Hugo Ortega's namesake restaurant will also offer The Greatest Margarita Ever Sold for $18 and the Hugorita, URBErita and Caracolrita for $10.
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URBE has all the ritas.
Photo by Paula Murphy
1101 Uptown Park Boulevard

Ortega's laid-back Mexican street food restaurant will also feature The Greatest Margarita Ever Sold for $18
plus happy hour prices on all margaritas, all day. In addition, URBE has a special margarita flight of coctelitos, mini versions of each of its sister restaurants' signature margaritas.

1777 Walker

Located in the Marriot Marquis, Ortega's Oaxacan restaurant will also offer The Greatest Margarita Ever Sold for $18 and the house margaritas from sister restaurants, the Hugorita, Caracolrita and URBErita, for $10.

Kin Dee
1533 N. Shepherd

This Thai restaurant has a creative take on margaritas with two options inspired by the Gulf of Thailand rather than the Gulf of Mexico. The Saneh Jan ($13) has tequila, lime juice, passion fruit and is garnished with a Thai chili. There's also the flowery Butterfly Pea Margarita ($16) made with Don Julio Silver, Cointreau, fresh lime and butterfly tea infused with lemongrass syrup.

Los Tios
Five Houston area locations

The margaritas at Los Tios are as solid as its famous puffy queso. The special $5 price on its house margaritas for NMD mean extra bucks to indulge in the tasty food available until you're puffy, too.
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Decisions must be made; frozen or on the rocks.
Photo by Dylan McEwan
Monkey's Tail
5802 Fulton

This popular hangout in Lindale Park is not only offering happy hour pricing all day long on its Tommy's Margarita, it's also opening up extra bars outside for National Margarita Day to accommodate celebrants. The Tommy's Margarita can be ordered frozen or on the rocks and it's made with Cazadores Blanco Tequila, agave and fresh lime. In keeping with the original California recipe, it's sweetened by agave instead of orange liqueur.

There will also be frozen specials for its Dragonfruit Margarita and the Avocado Frozen.

The Original Ninfa's
2704 Navigation
1700 Post Oak

There are two locations in which to take advantage of the famous margaritas at this Houston institution. There's its Original Ninfarita with 100 percent agave tequila blanco, Ninfa's proprietary classic margarita mix and agave syrup. For National Margarita Day, it will be available at the happy hour price of $7 per glass or $25 for a carafe. Guests can also treat themselves to a Margarita Flight with Strawberry Basil, Passion Fruit and Melon.
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Enjoy a flight at Ouisie's without the hassle of traveling.
Photo by Sean Bagwall
Ouisie's Table Restaurant
3939 San Felipe

Ouisie's Table is upping the ante with specials on flights of margaritas. Each flight includes a choice of three different 'on the rocks' margaritas for $18. Options include its Classic margarita or Grand Gold plus flavored versions like raspberry, peach and jalapeno.
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If the grande is too much, there's a small strawberry margarita for lightweights.
Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero
Rudy's Grill & Cantina
11760 Grant

This Cypress neighborhood Tex-Mex joint got a bit of an upgrade last year and it still remains a favorite for its fajitas, strong margaritas and spicy, warm red salsa. The grande frozen typically runs about $10 but there's a happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

We personally stand (or stumble) behind its sneakily strong frozen version. 
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Spanish Village's shaved ice margarita will soon be gone.
Photo by Jenn Duncan

Spanish Village
4720 Almeda

National Margarita Day 2023 will be the last margarita holiday for this longtime Tex-Mex restaurant because it is due to close March 31, as we reported here in the Houston Press. It has been in its current structure since 1953 but the building is now set to be demolished, so those who want to enjoy its shaved-ice Spanish Village Margarita one last time should take advantage of its $7.50 price tag for NMD. For one dollar more, guests can try one of the flavored versions such as Strawberry, Tamarind, Jalapeno. Cucumber, Cucumber Tajin, Frozen Strawberry Mango and Spicy Pineapple.
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Margaritas come in all sizes at Sylvia's.
Photo by Paula Murphy

Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen
1140 Eldridge, 832-230-3842
6401 Woodway, 713-334-7295

National Margarita Day 2023 at this local restaurant will not only be a day for indulging in cocktails but it will also be the launch for the Enchilada Queen's Silver Jubilee, a celebration of owner Sylvia Casares' 25 years in the restaurant business.

To mark the occasion, there will be a brand new margarita honoring the James Beard Award nominee and befitting her royal title. The La Reyna Margarita will debut February 22. The spicy cucumber margarita is made with Casa Del Sol Tequila Blanco, fresh lime juice, cucumber and fresh jalapeno syrup, served in a Tajin-rimmed glass. On the permanent menu The La Reyna will be $14, but for National Margarita Day, the price is $12.

Other NMD specials include a $12 Blood Orange Margarita and the Prickly Pear Sol Margarita. Both locations will also offer $6 house margaritas from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
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Tommy's Margarita omits the orange liqueur.
Photo by Claudia Casbarian
Wild Oats
2520 Airline

This Texas-inspired concept is located at Houston Farmers Market so you can pick up some fresh produce at the same time. Ots Tommy's Margarita ($13) is made with blanco tequila, lime and agave. For an extra $1, it can be made spicy. For an extra two bucks, mezcal can be substituted for the tequila, adding a smoky finesse. For those who can't make it out for National Margarita Day, Wild Oats has half-off agave on Thursday. 
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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.