There’s nothing that screams Dallas louder than spending a relaxed evening over a margarita or two. As soon as the warm weather permits, Dallasites flock to restaurant patios to sip their favorite drink. Margaritas are perfect as an excuse to socialize, as a prelude to a meal with a bowl of queso, as a happy hour staple, or as a late-night nightcap at a bar.
The classic margarita is made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. It’s served in a welled glass with a wide rim, which is usually rubbed with lime and sprinkled with salt or chile salt. Dallas mixologists are very creative and come up with many different variations of the classic margarita: sweet, spicy, fruity, smoky, salty.
Here are ten places where you can enjoy the city of Dallas’ signature drink. ¡Salud!
Mariano’s Hacienda Dallas is the birthplace of the frozen margarita. Owner Mariano Martinez came up with the idea of using a Slurpee machine to dispense margaritas when his bartenders couldn’t cope with the high demand for his father’s special recipe. Since no one believed in his idea or was willing to sell him a Slurpee machine, he ended up adapting an ice cream machine on May 11, 1971. As they say, the rest is history. He later donated the first-ever frozen margarita machine to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Martinez also owns Mariano’s Hacienda and La Hacienda Ranch known locally as “Laha”). So, if you want to try a frozen ‘rita, you might as well do it where it all began.
Salvadorian-inspired and Tex-Mex food, salsa dancing, and margaritas are a winning combination. You can enjoy all three at the Addison location of Gloria’s Latin Cuisine. Saturday nights become animated with live salsa and DJ music until 2 a.m. They offer different kinds of margaritas on their menu, from smoky and spicy to sweet and fruity. Their 1986 Margarita, a tribute to founders Gloria and José, has Cazadores Reposado tequila, lime juice, and St. Germain Elderflower liqueur. The slightly bitter elderflower aftertaste complements the sweetness and bite of the lime juice.
The signature margarita at Urban Rio Cantina & Grill is the La Verdadera: Herradura Añejo tequila, Cointreau, and freshly squeezed lime juice. My Mexican amiga swears by their fruity ‘ritas: a choice of strawberry, mango, prickly pear, or watermelon added to the house margarita. Pair your cocktail with a bowl of fiery queso or their delightful grilled stuffed avocados. Urban Rio, housed in a historic 1917 building, is located in Downtown Plano, just steps away from the DART rail station. No need to drive.
If you’re in the mood for something completely different and innovative, order a black margarita at El Bolero. Aptly named The Oilman, this potion’s black color comes from a blend of charred agave, blue curaçao, and blackberry syrup. It also includes Código 1530 tequila, lime juice, Napoleon Mandarin, a gold salt rim, gold stars, and a rock candy garnish. Unusual and fun. Regional Mexican food provides inspiration for the dishes served at El Bolero. The name refers to the shoe-shiners who ply their trade in the streets of Mexico City.
A margarita topped with a shot of tequila? Of course, at Uncle Julio’s. The Tres Amigos margarita is made with Casamigos Blanco and Reposado tequilas, Cointreau, lime juice, and ice. The shot of Casamigos Añejo comes in a floating lime cup, the peel of half a lime turned inside out. For a truly decadent end of a meal, order their Chocolate Lovers piñata filled with mini churros, fresh strawberries, and chocolate empanada bites.
El Máximo margarita delivers maximum punch: Maestro Dobel Diamante tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, fresh lime, and agave garnished with black salt. Where? At Café Herrera, which serves upscale Mexican cuisine. Café Herrera, at Restaurants on Lamar, is within walking distance from downtown Dallas and next to the Kay Hutchison Convention Center. Look out for the Pegasus sculpture – the symbol of Dallas – on Young Street right outside the Omni Hotel.
The only Texas location of the Canadian chain Earls Kitchen + Bar is in Legacy West, an upscale development in Plano. Try their Charred Jalapeño Margarita with Hornitos Reposado tequila, Ancho Reyes spicy liqueur, Triple Sec, charred jalapeño, and fresh lime. It has a certain kick at the end, with a spicy and smoky finish that is quite pleasant. Earls stays open until 1 a.m.
Mesero has a diverse list of margaritas. Among them, the Privado margarita is quite refreshing and simple: Código Silver tequila, grapefruit, and citrus. The Sangre Real adds a pop of color with Milagro Reposado tequila, Cointreau, blood orange and ginger syrup. Pair your drink with a bowl of queso at the bar while you watch the buzz in the kitchen.
Mambo Taxi ® is Mi Cocina’s trademark drink. This pretty-looking concoction consists of frozen margarita (Sauza Silver tequila, lime juice) with a swirl of frozen sangria made with Pinot Noir, brandy, and fruit juices. If you have more than one, you will be ordering a taxi home. The Mambo Limousine version adds Chambord.
For a late-night cocktail, head to Moxie’s Grill and Bar, the Canadian import that is making inroads into Texas. Their margarita offerings are very interesting and innovative. Some restaurants do tableside guacamole. Moxie’s goes one better and does Tableside Jalapeño Margarita with Olmeca Altos Plata tequila. The Strawberry Ghost Pepper Margarita is for the bravest among us -ghost pepper is 400 times hotter than jalapeño, fresh strawberry, Texas orange, fresh lime juice.
Bonus: Savor margaritas while you listen to live (mainly) country music at The Rustic, a restaurant and bar that celebrates everything Texas. The patio is called “Pat’s Backyard” after co-owner and country singer Pat Green. The dishes pay homage to Texas culture. The ingredients are sourced from local farms and ranches, and the seafood comes from the Gulf coast.
Ana Astri-O’Reilly is a fully bilingual travel blogger and writer originally from Argentina. She now lives in Dallas, USA, with her husband. Besides writing on her travel blogs, Ana Travels and Apuntes Ideas Imagenes, Ana has published travel and food articles in a variety of outlets. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.