Margaritas may evoke visions of summer days spent sipping tequila on the beach, but National Margarita Day is officially celebrated on February 22. While most of the country is still buried under snow and suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, lucky for us, it's warm, sunny and the perfect weather for enjoying the unofficial cocktail of Austin (right behind Lone Star and whiskey).
This year, we decided to ask our staff and food contributors to share their favorite place in Austin to down delicious — and unexpected — margaritas. We've abandoned most of the traditional spots (we're sure Trudy's, Maudies, Takoba, Polvo's and Guero's will be very popular destinations this weekend even if we don't mention them) and are offering a few unexpected places to find the delicious tequila treat.
We may be a little biased considering the CultureMap office is across the street from this East Austin joint, but Hillside Farmacy shakes up one of our favorite margaritas in town. The Grapefruit Jalapeno Margarita is equal parts sweet and spicy. Pair it with a sunny afternoon on the patio and you have a pretty perfect day.
We know what you're thinking. How can a dive bar known for celebrating Christmas all year make a great margarita? We were surprised, too, when we asked our server for a cocktail recommendation and he suggested a round of 'ritas. So surprised, in fact, that we had to order three more just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. It isn't. The simple rocks margarita steers clear of being too sweet, with the right amount of acidity and carbonation.
A French bistro may seem like a surprising place to order a tequila cocktail, but rest assured that Justine's treats tequila right. While this is technically not a margarita, Justine's offers up one of the best La Paloma options in town. Anejo tequila, Cointreau and fresh grapefruit juice make a delicious alternative to a sugary sweet margarita.
You may be surprised to find this South Congress staple on the list (given that Guero's is just up the road). But, like Justine's, the folks behind the bar know what they're doing. Vespaio even won the Critics Best New Margarita award from the Austin Chronicle 2006.
The Tequila Daisy at Jeffrey's lives up to its sweet, refined name. It mixes tequila cabeza blanco, lemon juice, pierre ferrand curaçao, and orange flower water for a refreshing take on the traditional margarita.
Here's a tip about Salty Sow: if you're not going to happy hour here, you're doing it all wrong. From 4:30-6:30 pm every day, you can get the house blood orange margarita (does anything sound better?) for just $5. Add an order of duck fat fries and you have a truly happy hour indeed.
Arguably the most predictable restaurant on this list, La Condesa's Margarita la Clasica deserves a mention for the salt rim alone. Sit at the bar, order a few appetizers and make new friends while you indulge in this simple — and delicious — take on the Mexican classic.
The recent downtown venture from Shawn Cirkiel, Chavez offers a smoked cherry margarita with just the right amount of sweetness. Go early, park yourself in front of the massive windows and take in one of the best views in town while getting your tequila buzz on.
Classic and cool, Lamberts serves up a special Kentucky Club Margarita that is the pitch perfect blend of El Jimador Blanco, Cointreau and fresh squeezed lime juice. No gimmicks, no nonsense, just margarita perfection.
Teachers have known for years that this is where you go when you want good Tex-Mex without any fuss. Stop in on a Friday afternoon and you'll see plenty of educators celebrating making it through another school week. You can imbibe in the main dining room, or duck into the cantina where karaoke is the name of the game.
Sure, it seems like an obvious choice, but we've got a secret for you. Belly up and order the avocado margarita — it's an off-the-menu offering that you can only get if you sweet talk your server.