Salt or no salt?
Say ‘salud!’ at these 9 San Antonio spots with killer margaritas
Not to dis Cupid or malign Punxsutawney Phil, but the best holiday of all time happens to fall on February 22. That’s when bartenders all over the country break out the tequila and lime in celebration of National Margarita Day. While San Antonians rarely need a reason to celebrate with a round or two, these local spots are giving us an extra reason to raise our glass.
The restaurant inside the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa takes tequila seriously, so much so that the Tequila Regulatory Council of Mexico gave them the Award T Recognition marking the staff's expertise on the spirit. Check out their smarts yourself by ordering a signature strawberry jalapeño margarita with Patron Citronge, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, and subtly spicy, house-infused strawberry jalapeño tequila.
It’s hard to think of a prettier local margarita than La Fogata’s orchid-topped stunners, but the real reason to go is the endless variety. Each month, a different tequila is featured and the drinks can be customized with everything from liqueur toppers to fresh fruit. As a bonus, the restaurant offers a complimentary shuttle service (with pickup and drop-off) for groups of 10-42. Give them 24 hours notice and you won’t have to skip that second drink.
If you want to do some secret day drinking, head to chef Johnny Hernandez’s casual haunt for the Fruteria infusion margarita. Each starts with a base spirit (tequila blanco, vodka, or mezcal de gusano) infused with your choice of ingredients like mango and Texas cantaloupe; a mixture of six chiles; or berries and Mexican canela. Tell your friends you went to a juice bar. You won’t be lying.
Jacala Mexican Restaurant
Why celebrate with just one margarita when you can have a whole pitcher? Most of Jacala’s drink menu can be ordered in bulk from the Melt-Down with a Jack Daniel’s topper to the Patriotic-Rita with three colorful frozen layers. The king of them all, however, is the Original Oro made with Cazadores reposado, lots of lime, and Gran Gala for a stronger orange kick. And at just under $30, you can afford to treat the whole table.
The wrestling masks and pop art make this Southtown bar one of the coolest haunts in San Antonio, but the fun doesn't end there. El Luchador pile drives the competition with drinks like the refreshing Jalapeño Cucumber Press. It may not be a marg in the strictest terms, but it has plenty of tequila and lime. And isn’t that what National Margarita Day is really about?
If you are going to name a place La Margarita, you better be able to back it up. This year, the Market Square eatery is putting it all on the line with a Margarita Madness battle on February 22 presented by La Familia Cortez Restaurants. Order a flight of four mini ‘ritas for $25 (the ticket also gets you a Corona ‘rita chaser) and decide for yourself if La Margarita can stand up to fierce competition from Mariachi Bar, Pico de Gallo, and Viva Villa.
Nao Latin Gastro Bar
There’s nothing wrong with gilding the margarita swan with infusions, toppers, and all manners of fruit, but sometimes it’s good to get back to the basics. Not counting the salt rim, the Latin gastropub’s house ‘rita just has three ingredients: tequila blanco, Cointreau, and lime — everything you need to start the evening off right.
Almost everyone has a fruit margarita, but few make them as right as the Passion Chili margarita from the anchor restaurant of the Éilan Hotel & Spa. The secret is fresh lemon and a simple syrup infused with charred jalapeño, which keeps the passion fruit from being too cloying. Two tequilas (Patron Citronge and Republic) make sure the cocktail has plenty of oomph.
Tito’s Mexican Restaurant
This King William favorite has a wide variety of flavors from peach to strawberry, but none are as famous than the mango chamoy. It’s served in a pint glass for maximum chuggability (no dainty stem standing between you and the next round) with a sprinkle of Tajin. And best of all, it’s $2 off during happy hour between 3-6 pm.