Food & Drink

The 12 best tequila bars in LA

Published On 11/03/2014 Published On 11/03/2014
Eric Rosenfeld (El Carmen)

Everyone loves tequila, but not everyone enjoys it the same way -- whether you're into shots, margaritas, or something more in line with the highly innovative libations created by that classiest of bar-owning frogs, this is for you: our definitive list of the best tequila-based boozeries in all of LA.

Las Perlas

Las Perlas

Downtown
Cedd Moses' ode to Mexico claims to have the largest tequila selection in town, and supports said claim with stacks (and stacks) (and stacks) of the good stuff behind the bar, some of which you can get for just $3 during their all-day Monday happy hour.

Jeff Miller

El Carmen

Mid-Wilshire
Not only is it our favorite dimly lit place to hang out with Curtis Stone, but the luchadore-themed El Carmen's also got some of the tastiest margaritas in LA -- perfectly sour, clearly not made from mix, and strong enough to be hair-growers without being too alcohol-forward.

Mercado

Mercado

Multiple locations
Though it's definitely a food-forward concept, this mini-chain (which just opened its third location, in Hollywood) shouldn't be overlooked for its tequila selection, and especially shouldn't be overlooked during their $7-per-marg 5-7pm happy hour.

Ghost Media

Te'kila

Hollywood
Tequila often equals party. Te'kila? DEFINITELY equals party. This heart-of-Hollywood-Blvd brostaurant is definitely easy to write off as a serious drinking destination, but A) they've got dozens and dozens of legit tequila options, and B) who drinks so seriously all the time anyways?, and C) see A) and B).

L'Scorpion

L'Scorpion

Multiple locations
Whether you're hitting the dark-and-moody Hollywood location or its patio-abetted WeHo brother, L'Scorpion will drop agave science on you like a sombrero-wearing Bill Nye, with high-end selections like the $65 Gran PatrĂłn Burdeos sharing self space with not-$65 tequila.

La Cuevita

La Cuevita

Highland Park
This grandly designed Highland Park haunt does free food on Mondays and Tuesdays which is good because you're gonna be DRANKIN'. Definitely try the strawberry-and-jalapeño-laced Vacaciones Permanentes.

La Sandia

La Sandia

Santa Monica
Don't hold its inside-a-mall real estate against it: La Sandia's run by a Mexican chef who takes all his food and drink (especially his drink) seriously, which means the bar scene here is always gettin' down, especially since it's abetted by a four-page tequila list that includes vertical and horizontal tastings.

Gracias Madre

Gracias Madre

West Hollywood
"So, I'm thinking about opening a vegan Mexican restaurant -- wait... where are you going? -- with an absurd tequila selection! And drinks like this mezcal monster called The Dude Abides! Oh, THERE you are. Good to see you back."

Mission Cantina

Mission Cantina

Hollywood
It's easy to forget about Mission Cantina, the... uh... cantina next to Delancey and Twin Sliders on that strip of Sunset near the Arby's. But they have killer margaritas to go along with their $1 taco Tuesdays, so, uh, see you tomorrow!

Casa Vega

Casa Vega

Sherman Oaks
Sometimes, you don't want to go to a new-school tequila bar with a fancy mixologist and dolled up ingredients. Sometimes, you want to go to a place that looks like your grandma's idea of what Mexico looked like in the '50s, order whatever no-name tequila they have on the well, and get ready for a ride. And when that time is now, your place is Casa Vega.

Palmilla Cocina

Palmilla Cocina

Hermosa Beach
An upscale place in a not-usually-upscale part of town, this tequila-soaked joint from the Baja Sharkeez guys uses kind of the same concept (Mexican food + drinking + more drinking), except in a more grown-up way, which means a shload of options to sip/shoot.

El Bar

El Bar

Studio City
Maybe it's the bull's head leaning over the bar, or maybe it's the double entendre, but either way you're gonna order their bull tequila shot, which's the good stuff (or the good-enough stuff, whatever), plus triple sec, Sprite, lime, cran, and simple syrup. Ole!

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Jeff Miller has a hangover just thinking about this stuff. He's at @jeffmillerla on Instagram and @ThrillistLA on Twitter.

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1. Las Perlas 107 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014 (Downtown)

Cedd Moses’ downtown LA bar claims to have the largest tequila selection in town, as evidenced by the stacks of tequila and mezcal behind the bar. Las Perlas’ crowd verges on hipster, and with monthly tastings, weekday happy hours dedicated to margaritas, and a taco-centric small bites menu, it’s become a neighborhood favorite perfect for a quick drink or an all-night hang.

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2. El Carmen 8138 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

This Mexican rest/bar has one of the biggest tequila selections around, not to mention outstanding margaritas and tasty Mexi-food.

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3. Te'Kila 6451 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

Te'Kila's designed by the Goal and Kitchen 24 guy to resemble an old-school Mexican bar with dangling candelabras, aged-wood paneling, and a plethora of paintings of south-of-the-border gangsters. For the best deal, order a $1 taco with the purchase of any drink or a $5 margarita during 4pm-8pm happy hour.

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4. La Cuevita 5922 N Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90042 (Highland Park)

La Cuevita, located in Los Angeles' Highland Park neighborhood, is a tequila & mezcal joint decked out in vintage Mexican-themed trimmings. In case you're thirsty, fried rice (fireball and rumchata) will whet your whistle while you peruse a menu of old world needs modern Mexican classic libations (margs and Manhattans made with molé sauce).

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5. La Sandia 395 Santa Monica Pl, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

Don't hold its location inside a mall against it: La Sandia's run by a Mexican chef who takes all his food and drink seriously, which means the bar scene here is always busy, especially since it's abetted by a four-page tequila list.

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6. Gracias Madre 8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

You’ll say gracias to this madre of a vegan restaurant when you taste chilaquiles, enchiladas, pozole, and other Mexican-inspired dishes made with organic, plant-based ingredients. No matter how much you live and die for carne asada, you'll find Gracias Madre's meat-free creations (coconut bacon, flash-fried cauliflower) beyond satisfying. Plus, no outdoor space in WeHo feels so quintessentially Californian.

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7. The Mission Cantina 5946 W Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

Decked out like a Mexican church (backlit stained glass, pew-y booths, etc), this "bar with good food" from the Delancey/Bowery guys serves up classics like mole-poblano chicken tacos and ceviche w/red snapper.

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8. Casa Vega 13301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91316 (Mid Valley)

Sometimes, you don't want to go to the hot new Mexican restaurant where bartenders are called mixologists and the menu is filled with unrecognizable small plates. You want the Spanish-roofed restaurant that feels like 1950s Mexico in an unironic way, where old-school bartenders make strong drinks with no-name tequila and every table has a side of rice and beans. That's when you go to Casa Vega, a 60-year-old bar and restaurant in Sherman Oaks where uncomplicated burritos and fajitas are the plates du jour and the signature margaritas flow like water.

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9. Palmilla Cocina Y Tequila 39 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254 (South Bay)

Right by the beach in Hermosa, PC & T's an upscale tequileria w/ hand-tiled walls, circular chandeliers, and a firepit-clad patio, all from the guys behind Baja Sharkeez and Sandbar.

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10. El Bar 3256 W Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90068 (Mid Valley)

From the guy behind The Fifth and in the former The Bridge space, El's a red-lit boozer's hacienda: candlelit recesses, floral-embossed leather barstools, south-of-the-border paintings of topless ladies and proud matadors, and a bull's head mounted over the bar.

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