Whiskey may have made a comeback, craft cocktails are all the rage, and white wine is having a good day, but in Texas, especially when it’s hot outside, the margarita still reigns supreme.
Originally created in Mexico in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s (depending on which story you believe) the drink quickly gained popularity in Texas as people drifted over the border to taste the unique beverage made from the blue agave plant native to the region.
While some of the earliest recipes used a Mexican orange liqueur called Controy, others touted triple sec and various forms of ice, so it is hard to say exactly which invention story is true. There is at least one claiming that a Houstonian by the name of James “Rusty” Thompson mixed the first margarita in 1961 after running out of rum at a party, and substituting tequila in the frozen daiquiris. Since this occurred at least eight years after the first official publication of a recipe using tequila, triple sec, and lime juice was published in Esquire Magazine, and fifteen years after Jose Cuervo’s first ad campaign stating that “Margarita is more than just girl’s name,” the claim is likely false.
Whatever story is true, and whether you like yours frozen or on the rocks, served with salted rim, or even topped with a flavored liqueur, Houston restaurants can serve you well.
But who has the BEST margarita in town? Well, that depends on who you ask. We just decided to ask our friends.
7 of The Best Margaritas in Houston:
Best place to grab a cheap one: Berryhill Baja Grill (locations in The Heights and Oak Forrest.) The outdoor patio is kid-friendly, and there is no table service, but that doesn’t mean the margaritas aren’t seriously good. Also, happy hour is daily from 2-7. That’s a really long hour!
Strongest: Lorenzo’s El Tiempo Cantina, any location, with particular nods given to the one on Richmond. No matter who I asked, at least one location of El Tiempo was near the very top of their list. As my very succinct friend put it “they don’t skimp on the tequila.”
Best basic: Molina’s “not too sweet” version is a pure representation of the Esquire recipe from 1953. This perfect blend of fresh lime juice, triple sec, and 100% agave tequila is a clear winner every time.
Best gold rocks with salt (that means Grand Marnier is lovingly poured over the top): Picos in Upper Kirby. With a long list of signature shaker margaritas to choose from, the Golden is simply a good place to start—but it is a really good place to start.
Most original flavors: Original Ninfa’s on Navigation. Mango habanero, pomegranate, cucumber mint, and grapefruit soda just to name a few. You can also choose from the specially selected list of fine tequilas to enjoy with fresh lime juice and Cointreau.
Best edible: Tila’s @ Shepherd On The Curve. Since their margaritas are all made with fresh fruit, the menu apologizes in advance for the seeds. Tila’s also has valet parking, so—margaritas for dinner anyone?
Best family-friendly: Teotihuaca’n Mexican Cafe. Kids eat free on Mondays, and happy hour prices until 6 pm. A large outdoor patio can accommodate a big group or restless kids, and the wandering mariachi band is always a hit. Be sure to bring a few bucks cash money to give the musicians if they happen to stop by your table.
So that’s our list and we’re ready to defend it! Unless, of course, you tell us about a great one that we failed to mention and then we will acquiesce and most likely give it a try the next time we are out with friends.
Which margarita tops your own list? Tell us in the comments below, and give us your reasons why. We’d love to know!
And remember—enjoy the city, be good to each other, and please drink responsibly.
For more #GoodFoodandDrink check out some of our other recommendations here.