Where to Find the 5 Best Margaritas in D.C.
Though it purportedly originated in Ensenada, Mexico, the margarita (classically made with tequila, lime juice and a citrus liqueur) is the most common tequila-based cocktail in this country. Put in those terms, drinking ‘ritas in the district is almost as patriotic as downing gin rickeys. Whether you take it blended or on the rocks, this is one D.C.-worthy beverage with which to say cheers. (Do you have a favorite you think should've made the list? Let us know.)
Oyamel: D.C.’s celeb chef José Andrés applies a bit of molecular mixology to Oyamel’s eponymously named margarita. The chef’s personal favorite, it combines Milagro blanco and Luxardo triplum (Triple Sec) with fresh lime juice, all covered with “salt air,” a frothy layer of salt foam. You’ll need to take a good swig (or use a straw) to get to the cocktail underneath, but it’s all good — tasting salt in foam form is a novel twist on the classic drink (401 7th St. NW; 202-628-1005).
El Centro D.F.: It’s hard to go wrong in a bar that calls itself a “tequileria,” and with more than 200 tequilas and mezcals from which to choose, the basement level at this Richard Sandoval spot lives up to its name. Sandoval’s Mexico City heritage shines through in the 14th Street establishment’s Latin-inspired cocktail list, which features a mango margarita made with fresh fruit puree, lime, agave and El Jimador. It will be hard to have just one, but luckily you don’t have to: all three of El Centro’s margarits are available by the full and half carafe (1819 14th St. NW; 202-328-3131).
Casa Oaxaca: This unassuming Adams Morgan gem isn’t backed by a celebrity chef, but the locally raised owners (both from Arlington) honor their Mexican roots with a menu infused with authentic ingredients. While everything served here has a homemade touch, the margaritas also come in unexpected favors such as blackberry, blood orange and prickly pear. Our favorite is the guava, which tastes extra refreshing with a tropical flair (2106 18th St. NW; 202-387-2272).
Lauriol Plaza: This 18th Street restaurant gets a bad rap — perhaps it’s the sometimes long waits, mega-sized establishment or preponderance of college students — but if there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s this place knows how to make good frozen margs. They’re nothing fancy, but they offer variety: Choose from regular, strawberry, mango or peach; get them by the glass or the full and half pitcher; and, if you’re feeling fancy, you can even get two flavors swirled. Add a basket of chips and you can make an entire meal out of these thick and chilly libations (1835 18th St. NW; 202-387-0035).
Circa: You wouldn’t think to find a great margarita at this Dupont restaurant, which serves mostly upscale American food, but then you’d miss the Circa Blackberry Margarita. Made with two types of tequila — Milagro Silver and Patron Citronge — it packs a powerful punch but tastes berry-sweet with a bit of Chamboard, muddled blackberries and a splash of lime. Try to nail one of the sidewalk tables to enjoy great people-watching and linger over the rest of the cocktail menu (1601 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-667-1601).