Food & Drink

The 12 best tequila bars in LA

Published On 11/03/2014 Published On 11/03/2014
Eric Rosenfeld (El Carmen)
Las Perlas
Jeff Miller
Mercado
Ghost Media
L'Scorpion
La Cuevita
La Sandia
Gracias Madre
Mission Cantina
Casa Vega
Palmilla Cocina
El Bar
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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

El Carmen is a colorful, tunnel-like cantina in Beverly Grove with luchador-lined walls, lit by strings of Christmas lights (year round). The Mexican cuisine is simply an afterthought, given the nearly 10 page list of over 400 tequilas on offer -- blanco, reposed, anejo, and the lesser-known muy anejo. Taste your way through the agave with a flight or in a classic cocktail, and soak it all up with authentic Mexican dishes like a three cheese quesadilla, a heaping bowl of nachos or chilaquiles with mole. Weekday happy hour features the best of the menu and cocktails at a portion of the price, and it’s called Hora de Fiesta -- that means party hour, and that’s when you should go.

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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 is a tequila- and mezcal-centric grotto (cuevita means cave... also bar used to be called Little Cave) in Highland Park. It's decked out in vintage Mexican-themed trimmings, has a spacious outdoor patio, and free tacos on Tuesday nights (not a typo, there are actually free tacos). The cocktail cave will quench your thirst with classic Mexican cocktails -- Palomas, Margaritas, and the like -- and beloved agave spirits -- of which there are many -- and your sate your hunger with small Mexican bites brought in from local vendors, which vary depending on the night.

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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.