July 24 is National Tequila Day — and a well-timed holiday it is, considering the hot summer days and the need for a boozy refresher made with Mexico's most renowned spirit. Nothing works better than the classic combo of lime, tequila, salt and a little something sweet to balance it out, and many Denver restaurants stick with the tried and true (or slight variations on the theme) to create their house margarita, so finding a favorite is simply a matter of knowing your preferences and your bartender.
Finding new favorites is also as easy as using our new Denver Restaurant Directory, a searchable compendium of food and booze businesses around town doing takeout, delivery and in-house dining. The directory lets you search by any of those categories, as well as by neighborhood and cuisine...and you can find our ten favorite house margaritas when you filter for Mexican Cuisine.
Or just keep reading:
Adelitas Cocina y Cantina1294 South Broadway
Adelitas builds a bold but refreshing house margarita with Cimarron tequila, lime juice and orange simple syrup, or you can go coin-style for two dollars more. The difference is Fortaleza tequila and Naranja orange liqueur instead of simple syrup.
Comida Cantina2501 Dallas Street, Aurora
Comida's house margarita starts with Monte Alban Plata tequila, which gets mixed with sweet agave syrup and lemon, lime and orange juice. That last ingredient kicks up the orange note that's usually just background music in this cocktail, and it makes the drink easily one of the most poundable in town. Luckily, you can order this margarita by the glass or by the massive jar.
Dos Santos Taqueria de Mexico1475 East 17th Avenue
Arette Blanco tequila, fresh lime juice and agave syrup make Dos Santos's house marg sweet and complex. If you're looking for something to drink at home, order the Big Brother Tommy, a full bottle that holds ten drinks for $45.
El Chingon4326 Tennyson Street
El Chingon gives the Berkeley neighborhood a true coin-style margarita as its house special, built with Fortaleza Blanco tequila, Cointreau (what else?) and a fresh-squeezed citrus blend. The result is a well-balanced drink unadulterated with excess sugar yet not puckeringly sour.
La Fogata5670 East Evans Avenue
"I know, it's pink!" cries the bartender as she places a cactus glass of the house margarita before us. She's seen our raised eyebrow, our glance at the menu, our momentary attempt to remember whether we accidentally said "paloma" when we meant "margarita." The rosy hue comes from La Fogata's housemade sweet-and-sour mix, built from a blend of juices, one of which is cranberry. We'll forgive La Fogata for its deviation, and even embrace it: It gives this drink, which also contains El Charro reposado tequila and triple sec, a mild acidity that's compelling and addictive.
La Loma1801 Broadway
La Loma's iconic margarita comes in a variety of sizes, from small to fishbowl-large. The light and simple cocktail is made with a mix of tequila, triple sec and a house blend of citrus juices. While you can order it frozen or pumped with other fruit, we like it best the traditional way: on the rocks with salt.
Lola Coastal Mexican1575 Boulder Street
If you prefer the tart, orange-tinged sipper that only a coin-style margarita can provide, Lola makes a list of cocktails to work your way through. Start with the Silver Coin, Lola's house margarita, which blends blanco and reposado tequilas, orange liqueur and lime juice into a drink with floral and acidic notes. Grab one from the walk-up window to go (you can even sub in mezcal for the tequila) for $8, or take home a Grande, which serves five for $30.
Los Chingones2634 Larimer Street, 303-295-0686
10155 East 29th Drive, 303-975-6166
4959 South Newport Street, 303-567-4258
These days, Los Chingones is a little quieter than its usual overflowing patio and bar scene, but that just makes it easier to order the house Los Marg, a sweet-tart blend of Exotico Blanco tequila and a housemade sweet-and-sour mix, just the thing for a relaxed evening of sipping.
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North County94 Rampart Way
The lively Baja-style North County serves The Original in a miniature shaker, made with Sauza Reposado, triple sec, agave syrup and fresh lime juice. Ask for the North County Rojo if you want the same blend, only with a little added heat.
Que Bueno Suerte1518 South Pearl Street
Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curaçao replaces triple sec in the namesake margarita at Que Bueno Suerte, and it dials up the floral orange note so that it becomes a nice, nuanced punctuation to the tart blend of Suerte Plata tequila (a Colorado-owned, Mexican-made brand), lime and agave.
Margaritas aren't all you'll find in our Denver Restaurant Directory. Search through it to find many other options; if you own or manage a restaurant whose information isn't included, there's a form you can fill out to add your spot to the guide. Salud!