The combination of spicy, southwestern food and a slushy, limey, salty margarita is crucial to dining in this state. A bowl of chips and salsa and that “frozen concoction that helps me hang on” as the song says is an experience repeated at restaurants across the state. Here are 10 not to be missed.
A former home and bunkhouse for a turn-of-the-19th-century ranch mixes up some of the best margaritas in town. All are served with 100 percent blue agave tequilas. The house made sour mix is tart, a blend of real lime and lemon juice. The bar menu is replete with a variety of specialty libations—all with a mix of different tequilas and liqueurs. Frozen concoctions come in lime, strawberry, prickly pear and mango. Add a float of Grand Marnier or Cointreu of Mezcal for extra punch.
The old adobe this restaurant is in is more than 200 years-old … it has history. So does the restaurant which has been owned by the same family for more than four decades. The margaritas are oh, so temptingly good—tart and sweet, all at the same time. Each one on the menu comes in a different combination of tequilas, syrups and splashes of liqueurs. The house margarita has a refreshing cucumber component.
Grants is one of those towns that you might just think is a pass through on Interstate 40. But this hidden gem of a restaurant is here. The decor is a little steakhouse style from an era gone by, but the food and drink are exceptional. You’ll find steaks, southwest fare and, of course, a well-stocked bar that serves margaritas. The Sweetheart turns red thanks to grenadine and pomegranate juice added to the tequila and sweet and sour mix.
When it’s warm, the place to be at this restaurant is on the patio in full view of the spectacular Jemez Mountains … with a house margarita in hand. Sitting inside is a treat in itself, too. The decor is rustic-on-rustic with vintage signs, posters and memorabilia scattered on the walls that are filled with a good selection of the local wildlife … stuffed. The margaritas, though, are up to speed. Two specialties feature either Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Both are refreshingly tasty.
There is an entire menu dedicated to the slushy, lip-smacking tartness of the margarita. The restaurant boasts that it not only has one of the largest selections of tequila in the state but also the best margaritas. Each is unique with highlights like chile, honey, pecans, cucumbers, jalapeños, as well as dill and mango puree. Get them frozen or on the rocks. This historic adobe hacienda, on the National Register of Historical Buildings, is a beautiful spot to sip and stay awhile.
If you’re a non-traditional margarita lover, you know the one that’s more than just tequila, triple sec and lime juice, then this is the place for you. How about raspberry lavender or green chile. Cucumber watermelon and pomegranate are local favorites. Special prices on Margarita Monday. Tex-Mex food on-hand is a perfect compliment.
Sometimes when you least expect it, you stumble across a restaurant that just gets things right. That’s Chachi’s, an unassuming restaurant that serves amazing food and drink. The fish bowl size wine-based margaritas come in lime, strawberry, pineapple or mango. The glasses, rimmed in salt, are ginormous—this is a two-handed drink or one to share with a friend. Stop by for happy hour Monday through Saturday for special prices on drinks and food.
No swinging on vines or rope ladders to get to this spot, it’s just a short stairway above Lambert’s Restaurant. The effort to find this charming lounge is worth it. The margaritas come with 100 percent agave tequila, triple sec and hand-squeezed lemon and lime juices. Garnishes include jalapeño and cucumbers, plus mescal and a wide-variety of liqueurs. Local favorite is Benito’s Red, a mix of Chinaco Blanco, Cointreau and pomegranate.
All the best of outdoor patio dining is brought inside this open, festive and color-filled restaurant. The traditional cuisine pairs wonderfully with the homemade margarita mix used in each margarita. Many tart and sassy choices—but the house margarita was voted best in town by the Albuquerque Magazine. It’s simple Patrol Silver tequila, Dekuyper triple sec, a splash of orange juice and, of course, the house fresh mix.
Don’t let the inside mural of an urban town or the Chicago vibe fool you, this restaurant has some southwest tricks up its sleeves. The margaritas are eclectic, refreshing and tasty. A little blue Curacao liqueur creates a mood with the Blue margarita served over ice. A frosted mug is the brilliance behind the Ultimate Patron with 100 percent agave tequila. Many more to choose from. Stop by for Happy Hour every day.