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Friday is National Margarita Day: Where to Celebrate and Find Drink Specials

Cheap, authentic, or over-the-top

When most people think Margaritas, they think Mexican food and Cinco de Mayo. But if you read my Essential Cocktails post about this tequila cocktail, then you would know that this beloved cantina staple may have actually originated in England. Funny enough, when I asked LA Mag’s resident Mexican food master and tequila aficionado Bill Esparza for suggestions on where folks can find the best L.A. Mexican bars/restaurants to celebrate National Margarita Day this Friday, February 22, he replied, “When it comes to Margaritas, gringos do it best.”

Yup, this is because the cocktail is a “tourist drink,” according to Señor Esparza, so Mexican restaurants tend to use sweet and sour, inferior orange liqueurs, and other shortcuts. Fair enough. So how about places with the best atmosphere for enjoying this festive libation? Here are his picks:

  • El Carmen in Mid-City West “has a great margarita and a ton of tequila.”
  • La Huasteca is “an upscale Mexican restaurant in Lynwood, with a hacienda-like ambiance. Great food, too.”
  • Casa La Golondrina Mexican Cafe, “on the patio right on historic Olvera Street.”
  • Mexican Village in Silver Lake, "for an all-Mexican crowd of salsa dancers, complete with a cantina-style bar, Spanish decor, and modelo edecanes (promo girls).”
  • Cabo Cantina "for “the ‘Cancun’ (‘Blue Hawaiian’ margarita) — margaritas with flip flops, shorts, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.”
  • Casa Vega’s "Cadillac Margarita.” (But FYI, the house version will be on special for $4.95 for the holiday.)
  • Sol Cocina in Newport Beach — “the chef/owner is Deborah Schneider, author of several Baja California cuisine Mexican cookbooks. They have margaritas and cuisine inspired by Baja California as well.”

Now, if you’d rather in fact trust the gringos with your cocktails, Bill and I agree that you can’t go wrong with craft-cocktail bar/restaurants like Rivera, Playa, Las Perlas, and Loteria Grill, who use fresh ingredients and no shortcuts. (I have dreams about Las Perlas’ Margarita.)

If you’re looking for holiday drink specials, Fleming’s in Beverly Hills will be serving up its spicy Mad Milagro Margarita with Milagro Silver Tequila, muddled cucumber, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro. At Mid-City’s Red O, guests will be treated to a complimentary margarita or they can purchase a trio of specialty margaritas for $25. The fancier folk can splurge on Red O’s $100 Benjamin margarita made with three extra añejo tequilas, Grand Marnier Cuvée du Cent Cinquentenaire, homemade lime sorbet ice cubes, a Louis XIII cognac float, Blood Orange caviar, and edible gold flakes, all served on a silver platter.