The Best Margaritas in Los Angeles

Shaken, stirred and blended

Margaritas | Photo: Border Grill Downtown LA, Facebook


There are many tales about the origin of the Margarita, but what is known are the basic ingredients: tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and salt on the glass rim. These days, the Margarita can be found in many creative variations using tequila, mezcal, and other agave spirits, along with fresh fruit, herbs, and spices—shaken, stirred, or blended and served in a variety of glassware.

No matter what ingredients are used and how it’s prepared, what can be agreed upon is that the Margarita is a most celebratory drink—in a "party" kind of way. So, cheers to good times and to the best places to find Margaritas in Los Angeles.

Salt Air Margarita at The Bazaar by José Andrés | Photo: @mythicalspacequeer, Instagram

The Bazaar by José Andrés



The Salt Air Margarita, created by the king of molecular gastronomy, Michelin-starred Chef José Andrés, is definitely among the most unique takes on this agave drink. According to legend, Andrés was sitting on the beach one day when he was inspired to create this special cocktail with a frothy sea salt top. Apparently he’s not a fan of salty rims and wanted to create a smoother tasting drink. As he saw the ocean waves hit the rocks, he thought it “created a magical foam.” To mimic this, the foam is created with a mix of sea salt, sugar, and lime juice, while the drink is balanced with tequila, agave syrup, and lime juice. The result is a most unique, elegant, sophisticated take on a margarita.

Margaritas | Photo: Border Grill Downtown LA, Facebook

Border Grill



Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, aka the "Too Hot Tamales," could be considered the pioneers of modern Pan-Latin, Mexican cuisine in Los Angeles. Border Grill, their lively urban cantina located in the Downtown L.A. Financial District, is known for its creative take on street food and equally recognized for its cocktails. The standout Suprema Margarita is made with Viva 32 tequila joven, fresh lime, and organic agave nectar. If you’re in the mood for something for the patio, go for the Fresh Fruit Margarita with tequila blanco, fresh seasonal fruit, fresh lime and organic agave nectar.

Blended Peach Margarita at Casa Vega | Photo: @casavegarestaurant, Instagram

Casa Vega



A San Fernando Valley classic since 1956, Casa Vega is a family owned and operated restaurant known for its Margaritas, dim lighting and lively atmosphere—you might spot a celebrity or two huddled in a corner booth. Although Casa Vega is known for its award-winning classic Margarita (made with Anejo Tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice), there’s at least a dozen to choose from, such as Skinny, Organic, and Fruit Blended (the Peach Margarita is touted as "one of the best in LA"). A couple of new flavors are becoming fast favorites, including the Rehab Margarita made with 1800 Tequila, coconut water, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar.

Pomegranate Margarita at El Carmen | Photo: @foodiesht, Instagram

EL CARMEN



Tequila and tacos are the thing at El Carmen, a narrow neighborhood cantina in the heart of Beverly Grove complete with red velvet curtains and bulls heads on the walls. On the rocks Margaritas include the El Perfecto - a classic Margarita prepared with house-made sour mix, Herradura Blanco and Cointreau. The spicy version adds fresh muddled jalapenos. Most unique is the Cilantro Ginger Margarita with Tonalo Reposado, ginger liqueur, agave syrup and fresh lime muddled with cilantro. Whatever you order, you can’t go wrong as you hang back and listen to jukebox tunes.

Margaritas at El Cholo | Instagram by @tha_manipulator

El Cholo Los Angeles - The Original



When you’re talking about Margaritas, you can’t ignore an institution—especially one in its ninth decade. Established in 1923, El Cholo opened its LA location (aka "The Original") in 1927 and now has locations in Downtown LA, Santa Monica and Orange County. The classic El Cholo Margarita debuted in 1967 and is featured along with fruit and blended varieties. The Gran Tradicional with Cuervo Tradicional, Herradura Silver, Cointreau, and topped with Don Julio Anejo is a slightly elevated drink. But if you want to go all out, then the 24 K ($24) with Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia and Grand Marnier Cuvée du Cent Cinquantenaire will make you feel quite celebratory.

Flaming Margaritas at El Compadre | Photo: @beatific_visions, Instagram

El Compadre



The ultimate kitschy Margarita can be found at El Compadre. Although there are three locations, it's the original in Hollywood—where the legendary Flaming Margarita was born— with a blue flame dancing on top of a lemon slice. The Downtown LA location is ideal before or after an event at STAPLES Center, and the Echo Park location has a bit mellower vibe. Wherever you go, you can order the Margarita on the rocks or blended, but if you want the full effect - meaning maximum kitschiness - order it blended. Of course you could order other Margaritas, but why would you? Enjoy Mexican classics performed live by a trio nightly.

Melon, strawberry, house, mango and peach Margaritas at El Coyote | Instagram by @elcoyotecafe

El Coyote Café



Kitschy and colorful is the best way to describe this landmark restaurant that’s been serving since 1931. You’re not really going for the food, but for the lively atmosphere and historical status (okay, and maybe some cheesy tortilla dish). Adding to the ambiance are the bar drinks, and the Margarita choices lead the pack, including varieties of blended drinks and on the rocks. The best day for Margaritas, and one that’s quite packed (but that adds to the fun), is Margarita Mondays—the house margarita is $6, and the Top Shelf with Don Julio Silver Tequila tops out at $10—all day.

Photo courtesy of El Tejano, Facebook

El Tejano



This Tex-Mex restaurant located in the NoHo Arts District serves up massive Margaritas in 18 oz schooners—so if size matters, this is the place. During their all-day happy hour, buy one for $8 to $10, and get a second for $2. Choose between the El Tejano Rita made with Sauza Blue, or make it “skinny” with a Flaca-Rita. Slurpee-ize it with frozen strawberry or mango flavors. If beer is your preference, switch it to a Beer Rita for $2 extra. Sit back on the colorful patio with an outdoor bar or take it inside.

Frida Skinny Margarita | Photo: Frida Mexican Cuisine

Frida Mexican Cuisine



This colorful, modern restaurant group has LA locations in Beverly Hills (the flagship), Westwood, Torrance, and Sherman Oaks. To pair with its authentic menu, the cocktails include the popular Frida Skinny Margarita, made from scratch with natural and organic ingredients, including agave honey, hand-squeezed lime juice, and Patron Silver. For those who enjoy a hint of heat mixed with a mix of sweet, the Jalapeno Margarita is a must.

Purista at Gracias Madre | Photo: Eric Wolfinger

Gracias Madre



Vegans and carnivores universally agree on two things about Gracias Madre, the Mexican-inspired plant-based restaurant in West Hollywood: the patio is among the most beautiful in LA, and the Margaritas are at the top of almost any list. The Purista is the classic house drink, made with tequila or mezcal, lime, agave and orange bitters with sweet orange salt on the rim. Order it by the glass or pitcher; make it spicy or upgrade to premium. There's also the Instagram-ready La Quinceañera, a snow cone Margarita made with mango, orange, ancho chili, lime, blanco tequila, ginger and Peychaud’s Bitters.

Smokey Margarita at La Cuevita | Instagram by @lacuevitabar

La Cuevita



Filled with vintage Mexican wares, this Highland Park hipster bar is rightfully named La Cuevita (“Little Cave”) because it’s just that small, but there is a slim outdoor patio to push it out a little more. The size of the tiny, dimly lit space doesn’t stop it from having one of the largest collections of tequila, mezcal, and other agave spirits in Los Angeles. The Smokey Margarita, with Los Javis Mezcal Silver and fresh juices, is a legendary favorite—and it goes with the “Day of the Dead” design vibe. There’s no food menu, but small bites are often brought in by different vendors, including free tacos on Tuesdays from 10 p.m. to midnight. Find DJs and live bands most nights.

Margarita and tacos at Las Perlas | Photo: 213 Hospitality

Las Perlas



Located at 6th and Main Streets in the Historic District of Downtown LA, Las Perlas opened in 2010 and is the nation’s first mezcal bar with a selection of nearly 400 premium agave spirits. Set in an impressive historic building, Las Perlas channels a Oaxacan cantina with a backlit bar, colorful lights, and wrought iron fixtures. The signature Las Perlas Margarita is done their own way— made with agave nectar and Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao with fresh lime juice and Sino Blanco tequila, shaken on the rocks. Turn it up a notch with the Spiced Daisy, made with Altos Blanco tequila, fresh pressed jalapeños and cilantro. Shake it all off with live music late night daily.

Margaritas | Photo: Mercado

Mercado - Santa Monica



With locations in Hollywood, West Hollywood and Santa Monica, Mercado is known for its modern Mexican cuisine in a sleek, lively atmosphere—and some of the best tamales in town. If you’re looking for a kick with your Margarita, search no further than the Spicy Cucumber Margarita on the rocks with 1519 silver tequila, house jalapeño purée, and chipotle salt along the rim. If spicy isn’t your thing, you can’t go wrong with the Mercado Margarita (100% agave silver tequila, triple sec), or choose the Margarita de Jamaica with Olmeca Reposado tequila, triple sec, fresh hibiscus, and fresh sour.

Lowrider Margaritas at Mi Corazon | Instagram by @micorazon_silverlake

Mi Corazon - Silver Lake



This Silver Lake favorite from husband/wife team Jeremy Swan and Chef Vanessa Swan, is an amped up version of their first location in Glendale. Both restaurants serve Mexican cuisine made with naturally raised, organic ingredients and an emphasis on vegetarian and vegan dishes. The Silver Lake location is larger (which makes it great for parties) and features a craft cocktail menu and more than 60 tequilas and mezcals. The Margarita selection includes the Lowrider Margarita (a nod to Vanessa’s family, which she says drove lowriders throughout her childhood), made with tequila, agave, lime and choice of seasonal berry, cucumber jalapeno, or hibiscus.

Petty Cash Margarita | Photo: @pettycashla, Instagram

This upscale, hybrid take on Mexican street food features local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients in both the food and the cocktails. The lively ambience is enhanced by music (hence the name tribute to Tom Petty and Johnny Cash), colorful graffiti art, and significant cocktail list. The Petty Cash Margarita is on point with a choice of tequila or mezcal, lime, and a unique accent from citrus-spiked agave curacao.

Alacran Margarita at Red O | Photo: @redorestaurant, Instagram

Red O Taste of Mexico



Known as one of the more stylish, modern Mexican-inspired restaurants in Los Angeles, Red O in Santa Monica features margaritas that follow the lead with equal flair—along with steak and seafood dishes. The Signature Red O Margarita is the go-to with Cabo Wabo Blanco, O3 orange liqueur, and house-made limonada, served over ice with a salt rim. Others include an organic “skinny” version, as well and their take on a spicy Margarita—the Alacran, with Serrano chile syrup served over ice in a tajin-rimmed goblet. Then there’s The Grant Margarita for $50—prepared with El Tesoro Anejo tequila, Mandarine Napoleon, fresh lime and agave. And to make you think you’re getting your money’s worth, there’s a gold-dusted pineapple slice and an added shot of El Tesoro Paradiso Extra Anejo Tequila on the side.

Lunazul Tequila Margarita | Photo: Salazar

Salazar



No other venue in Los Angeles evokes a more rustic, urban Mexican vibe than this outdoor all-day eatery located in Frogtown between Silver Lake and the 5 Freeway. Built on the grounds of a converted auto body shop adjacent to the LA River, Salazar is situated on a large corner lot with a simulated desert environment amidst succulents and pergola. There are two Margaritas "de barril" (meaning on tap). Chose Lunazul Tequila or Verde Momentum Mezcal. Both are served with lime and agave syrup and finished off with a citrus-salt rim. Pair it with grilled meat and tacos, and you’re all set.