TexMex and margaritas — like peanut butter and jelly, or bagels and cream cheese, this iconic combination pairs so well that, to do one without the other, would be doing yourself a flavor disservice. Luckily, Austin serves up both in spades. The amount of tequila in this city alone could keep someone well-liquored up straight from SXSW in March to ACL Fest in October. But, with so many options to choose from, how do you discover your ideal full-bodied, frozen margaritas from their sickly-sweet, low-alcohol replicas? Our list has you covered; whether you prefer a traditional lime juice and orange liquor combination, or a take on the cocktail classic that keeps it as weird as the city itself, we know where to go. Just be sure to do it the Austin way, and order some queso alongside your beverage.
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Top 5 Margaritas in Austin
Address: 2004 S 1st St Austin, TX 78704 & 360 Nueces St Austin, TX 78701
When the work day in Austin hits margarita-o’clock, the first place people usually turn to is Polvos. A legendary spot in the city with a flashing neon-sign to match its reputation, Polvos’ popularity recently translated into a second location in Downtown Austin, in addition to their OG spot in South Austin’s Travis Heights.
Their sheer variety of margarita flavors, with everything from coconut to cantaloupe to peach, brings customers back for their weekly tequila fix. While they serve them on the rocks as well, their frozen margaritas’ unique, old-school-slushy-like texture makes the blender option the way to go. Pair that drink with their equally-esteemed house fajitas, which come in portions so huge you’ll be dipping into that doggy bag for the rest of the week. Another not-to-miss feature at Polvos: their salsa bar, which, with four excellent styles for you to try, will keep you hitting it up all meal. Take extras of the underrated pickled veggie salsa too — we have yet to find a dish it doesn’t go with.
Fonda San Miguel
Address: 2330 W N Loop Blvd Austin, TX 78756
Any special celebration — engagements, graduations, or even just the end of the work week — deserves recognition in the form of a margarita-filled brunch at Fonda San Miguel. This Austin institution has been around since 1975 and, with its excellent food, drinks, and atmosphere, you can see how it continues to wow patrons despite so many classic city restaurants falling sadly by the wayside. From the moment you enter their colorful dining room, decorated with traditional works of art and featuring a real-life parrot, it transports you to the interior regions of Mexico.
But, let’s talk about the drinks. While you can’t go wrong with their standard take on the margarita, The Numero Uno, we would encourage the adventurous drinker to sip on the Pepino Pica instead. A mix of Mi Campo Silver, Cointreau, and cucumber-serrano flavors, it hits all the spicy and refreshing notes you crave. It pairs best with their monumental brunch, which features the buffet of your dreams, including known favorites, such as Chilaquiles and Quesadillas, as well as specialty dishes, such as Huevos Motuleños from the Yucatán peninsula.
Address: 1306 E 6th St Austin, TX 78702
Licha’s Cantina used to be East Austin’s best kept secret, a place where the food makes you want to lick your plate, and you never had to wait in line. They prepare the margaritas fresh, and, with such great accolades, the tables at Licha’s became a little more packed. Still, it’s worth the wait to dive into some of the city’s best Mexican food and tequila libations.
The experience at Licha’s begins with their homemade salsa and chips, and you will ask for a second order before your server even comes to greet you. Their classic take on the margarita, which comes in regular or spicy, is a perfect tart choice for those who have sent back a drink for being overly sweet. Our favorite though, the Lupita, a watermelon on-the-rocks style sipper, balances the sweet summer fruit with fresh, spicy slices of jalapeño. Get there early in the night to grab a spot beneath their string-lit oak tree for Happy Hour, a spot where their great margaritas only improve its great vibes.
Matt’s El Rancho
Address: 2613 S Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78704
No place in the city deserves the reputation of an “Austin institution” more than South Austin’s Matt’s El Rancho. This spot opened its doors all the way back in 1952, and we doubt there’s been a night since when their lobby hasn’t been packed with crowds waiting to grab one of their signature margaritas.
Perhaps we should clarify a bit more — Matt’s doesn’t just offer one signature margarita, they devote an entire menu page to them. You can go frozen or flavored, but, even when it comes to your standard, classic take on the cocktail, Matt’s gives you a variety of tequila, agave, and orange liquor options. The real winner here though, is their Sangria Margarita which, with its trademark swirl of red wine, can be spotted on every table throughout the restaurant. Order one alongside the Bob Armstrong dip, a mix of seasoned taco meat, queso, guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo, named after the former Texas land commissioner.
Address: 3501 E 7th St Austin. TX 78702
If you want to stray away from anything resembling a “traditional” margarita, but still want a twist on the tequila beverage, head to East Austin’s Kinda Tropical. At first sight, you might pass over the bar. It is built in an old gas station, and, if not for the neon-lit artwork and large leopard mural on the building’s side, you might mistake it for a place to fill up your car. These days, however, the only fill up you can get at the location is a belly full of food and margaritas.
Order the Paint It Black margarita, a drink so perfectly tuned you’d think the Rolling Stones’ guitar tech made it. The cocktail contains Espolon, Paula’s Orange, a spiced rim, and activated charcoal — hence the name and the pitch black color of the drink itself. Sipping one on their expansive back patio only gets better when you order their pulled jackfruit sandwich to go along with it, a delicious, vegan take on BBQ that gives the traditional brisket joints of Austin a serious run for their money.
Moving to Austin, TX
There you have it, the best margaritas in Austin. If you’re looking to find an apartment within walking distance of these awesome drinks, reach out to AptAmigo, and we’ll find the perfect one for you in a location you love. Start learning about the best luxury apartments in Austin, then simply let us know what your dream apartment looks like, and we’ll set up all the tours and personally assist you at each apartment.
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