Food & Drink

The 13 Best Margaritas in Austin

Published On 06/18/2015 Published On 06/18/2015
Photo courtesy of Searsucker
Scott Robertson
Licha's Cantina
La Condesa Austin
El Chile Café y Cantina
Peter Harasty
El Naranjo
Anastacia Uriegas/ Thrillist
El Alma
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1. Alcomar 1816 S 1st St, Austin, TX 78704

From the same restaurant group as El Chile and El Alma, Alcomar specializes in what's been dubbed a "Latin-inspired seafood concept." Set in a beachy and bright open space, it serves up ceviche, Gulf oysters, and fusion concepts like lobster enchiladas and octopus tostadas. Expect a variety of margaritas, served by the glass or pitcher, and a notable Bloody Mary served a single oyster.

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2. Takoba 1411 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

The owners of Takoba know what they're doing with Mexican food -- they grew up in a rural area in central Mexico before relocating to Austin. They're dedicated to fresh, local ingredients and the menu reflects this philosophy, offering a great selection of standard favorites like quesadillas and more authentic, lesser-known dishes like a traditional Mexican pork stew. Best of all may be the outdoor patio-cum-sandbox that's filled with multicolored lounge chairs.

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3. Licha's Cantina 1306 East 6th St, Austin, TX 78702

Licha’s Cantina is a neighborhood casita known for it's authentic interior Mexican food. The menu is inspired by the soul food the owner was raised with (and the restaurant is named after his mother) featuring modern takes on traditional dishes that retain the heart and history of their Mexican origins. Expect blue corn huitlacoche quesadillas, lengua sopecitos (in house-made masa cups), and bone marrow huaraches, as well as a slew of tequila- and mezcal-based cocktails. All this in an intimate, welcoming space in the heart of East 6th Street.

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4. La Condesa 400 W 2nd St, Austin, TX 78701

La Condesa is the place to go if you're looking for traditional Mexican flavor with modern Austin flair. The menu, offering up handfuls of tortas, taquitos, combos, and a few other staples, is shorter than most, but there's an obvious preference for quality over quantity at this Downtown restaurant. Tacos strewn with red pickled onion, cilantro, and guacamole make the ideal warm-up round before hitting the bar, where tequila and mezcal reign supreme in customizable flights.

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5. El Chile Cafe y Cantina 1809 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722

El Chile's Oaxacan red mole has won the Austin Chronicle's Hot Sauce Contest and their unique Tex-Mex has been given acclaim all over the country. So grab yourself a La Tuna margarita, a dark pink frozen margarita infused with tequila-marinated prickly pear, and mingle with both locals and out-of-towners all looking for a good meal.

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6. The W Hotel 200 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701

Just a few blocks from the mansion where another famous W rested his head as governor, the W's Austin branch has helped define the downtown 2nd St District, serving as a magnet for more youthful out-of-towners. Their WET Bar offers poolside sips and its Living Room Bar and TRACE has a menu that is updated frequently with new cocktails.

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7. Fixe 500 W 5th St, Austin, TX 78701

Fixe, with its very experienced chef/management team, is doing upscale-Southern with a dedicated grits menu and a barrel-aged craft cocktail program.

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8. Searsucker Austin 415 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701

A steakhouse from San Diego's Chef Brian Malarkey (of Top Chef and The Taste), Searsucker'll have you sucking on bone marrow and gnawing on Tomahawk ribeyes.

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9. El Naranjo 85 Rainey St., Austin, TX 78701

Unless you're already aware of what's inside, you'll likely mistake this little yellow house in Rainey Street District for... well, a house. The sneaky, unlabeled spot is actually El Naranjo, owned and operated by renowned chefs and power couple Iliana and Ernesto de la Vega. These two whip up some of Austin's most authentic and traditional Mexican fare, like flank steak tacos and Oaxacan mole, with ease and always keep more than a few bottles of mezcal on hand. opened El Naranjo to bring traditional Mexican cuisine to Austin. El Naranjo makes their own salsas, moles, breads, and corn tortillas with fresh and seasonal ingredients.

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10. Taco Flats 5520 Burnet Rd #101, Austin, TX 78756

Despite the name, Taco Flats is much more of a bar than a taco joint -- though it would serve you well to arrive hungry and thirsty. This famous hippie hangout of the 1970s shuttered almost 30 years ago, and has now been revived in its original Burnet Rd location. The dive bar has received a facelift and has a sleek sports bar look, over 30 craft beers on tap, six wines on tap, and a cocktail program helmed by veterans from Midnight Cowboy and Eastside Showroom. Must-tries include the Agave Old Fashioned (reposado tequila, mezcal, honey, mole bitters), El Chuco (Sotol Blanco, fresh lime, orgeat, mole bitters) and the No-mah-mes (espadin mezcal, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, fresh lime, spicy bitters). True to old-school Austin, their menu runs the gamut from carnitas tortas to hemp seed burgers and "hippie tacos" with grilled Oaxaca cheese, refried black beans, and house pickled escabeche -- all on delicate, house-made tortillas, of course.

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11. Jacoby's Restaurant & Mercantile 3235 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78702

Boasting a number of Southern-inspired menu items -- such as shrimp and grits, family-style braised greens, and pork confit fritters -- Jacoby's Mercantile is the perfect spot for al fresco with friends, offering a view of the Colorado River most people have never seen. Must-try items include the Muskoka Smash (Bulleit Rye, blackberry, basil, & lemon), and for "supper" a Bone-In Ribeye with a side of Mac-n-Cheese (made with sour cream and Roggenbier).

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12. El Alma 1025 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

Do you know where to go when you’re in the mood for margaritas and chips and salsa (and queso and ceviche... )? El Alma is the answer. In addition to a generous happy hour, the Barton Springs restaurant has a shady rooftop with views of Austin’s skyline. Pro-tip: order the The Margarita Chilanga, an ice-cold frozen margarita infused with a spicy chili powder, for the ultimate local's wind-down experience.

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13. Rio Rita 1203 Chicon, Austin, TX 78702

Coffee joint by day and cocktail lounge/dive by night, Rio Rita is a cozy couch-filled respite on East 12th that's great for grabbing a drink and a snack at any time. Try its jalapeño-infused margarita, made with 100% agave tequila, Paula’s Texas Orange liqueur, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar -- its spicy kick will wake you up. Bar bites include pizza (from East Side Pies), and homemade salsa and hummus with chips.