Margaritas and Mexican food are an indispensable part of San Antonio’s festive vibe. While many restaurants are happy to crank out sweet or high-octane drinks without paying much attention to the ingredients, the restaurants below make the extra effort required to create masterful margaritas.
La Gloria - Mangonada
The margaritas at La Gloria are truly one-of-a-kind because chef-owner Johnny Hernandez travels regularly to Casa Herradura to personally select the single barrel tequila. “On every visit to Hacienda San Jose del Refugio, I taste a series of single barrels that have been selected by the master distiller Maria Theresa Lara. It’s impossible to make a great margarita without great tequila.” In addition to this hand-selected tequila, the Mangonada is made with fresh mango, cantaloupe and Patron Citronge. Another favorite is La Catrina, which is made with Herradura Reposado, pineapple, mango, Granny Smith apples and lime juice. Located on the grounds of the historic Pearl Brewery, La Gloria focuses on the “street foods” of Mexico, from simple tacos to amazing ceviche.
Blaire Biles, food and beverage manager for Eilan Hotel and Spa, describes what makes Sustenio’s Passion Chili margarita so special: “First, we start off by muddling one slice of jalapeño by itself, seeds and all! By doing this, it helps release the flavors so that they bind with the alcohol better.” Next, the bartender adds a splash of simple syrup, an ounce of passion fruit purée, 1 1/2 ounces of Republic Tequila (which is produced in Austin), 3/4 ounce of Patron Citronge, and 2 ounces of lemon juice (not lime). The bartender then shakes it up with ice and double strains it into a chilled glass with Tajin chili powder on the rim. In addition to the top-notch margaritas, the restaurant serves the award-winning modern Texas cuisine of Stephan Pyles in an elegant setting.
A simple blend of Silver Patron tequila, Cointreau and freshly squeezed lime juice, Arturo’s Margarita has been drawing legions of loyal fans in San Antonio since the restaurant opened in 1975. Decorated with colorful Mexican tile, the restaurant’s main dining room is open, airy and cheerful. The plant-filled outdoor patio is an excellent setting for a casual get-together with friends over a pitcher of margaritas and plates of unforgettable Mexican food.
Jacala co-owner Lucille Hooker says that the just-right combination of fresh ingredients helps make the Oro Margarita “not too strong or sweet, just smooth.” Family-owned since 1949, the restaurant has multiple generations of loyal customers. Over the years, Jacala’s food has earned multiple readers’ and critics’ choice awards from the San Antonio Express-News. The puffy taco, tamale and chile relleno dishes are particularly popular. The laid-back setting is ideal for large groups or families.
La Fogata has been featured at the top of just about every “best margarita” list in San Antonio for decades. The restaurant uses blue agave tequila, agave nectar and fresh lime in its margaritas. And each drink is embellished with a beautiful and edible orchid. The sprawling dining room can get a little rowdy on weekends, especially when the mariachis are serenading diners. Many of La Fogata’s signature flavors are produced by fire-roasting both meat and vegetables. The smoky goodness makes the restaurant’s salsa an award winner too.
Rosario's - La Tuna
Made with silver tequila, fresh lime and prickly pear cactus juice, La Tuna is one of the few frozen margaritas to garner a large and loyal following. As for the food, Rosario’s excels at all the Tex-Mex classics as well as more unusual dishes such as the Quinoa Chile Relleno and Sopa de Fideo, which includes vermicelli pasta in a tomato broth, topped with queso fresco and cilantro.
This casual restaurant makes a consistently excellent Top Shelf Margarita. Regular customers appreciate little extras such as complimentary refried beans served with the chips and salsa. In cold weather, the Sopa de Tortilla and Sopa de Verduras really hit the spot. All of the enchilada and taco plates are winners too.
One of the oldest bars in San Antonio, the Esquire Tavern has had plenty of time since its opening in 1933 to perfect its margarita recipe. The bar’s signature drink is the Nuestra Margarita, made with a mix of blanco tequila and reposado tequila, French triple sec, and both Key and Persian limes. Both tequilas are 100 percent agave tequilas, which ensures a smoothness that pairs well with the tartness and floral notes of the key lime. And you can enjoy the margarita knowing that you’re supporting a good cause. For every Nuestra Margarita sold, the bar donates $1 to the Tequila Interchange Project, which supports eco-friendly practices in the tequila business.