The Margarita Smoke Show: A TexMex Classic Isn’t so Classic Anymore

by Susie Oszustowicz in Summer 2016

Texas does a lot of things well … Blue Bell ice cream, presidents, oil, “The Bachelor” contestants. And the margarita.  

Once the classic is mastered though, what’s a bartender to do? Answer: find the wildest take on the margarita possible. And they’ve certainly upped the ante, throwing in smoked, spiced, spiked and even flaming elements to the quintessential Texas libation.


Parliament (Dallas)

Smoked Mangonada Margarita
This smoky treat by Dallas barman Stephen Halpin is in the running for Patron’s “2016 Margarita of the Year” for good reason. Halpin infuses smoke into a helping of Patrón Citrónge Mango by hand, then teams the infused tequila with another generous helping of Patrón Reposado. (More is usually better, right?) Topping it with fresh mango puree and rimming the glass with Tajin (Mexican chili salt) makes this a ‘rita like you’ve never tasted before.  


2418 ALLEN ST | DALLAS

Top Knot (Dallas)

Pegu Club
While margaritas and tequila are synonymous, one of Dallas’ newest spots, Top Knot, is shaking up tradition with their gin (yes, gin) margarita, the Pegu Club. This isn’t your grandpa’s gin concoction; they’ve added a bit of citrus, orange Curaçao and bitters, and muddled cucumbers.  Their light, spacious patio offers the perfect place to sip on their unique version … and make sure to enjoy it with a sushi roll.


2817 MAPLE AVE | DALLAS

HG Sply Co. (Dallas)

Double Under
This margarita’s beet-infused tequila deliciousness rivals the view from the rooftop patio. The Double Under doubles down with rosemary turbinado to balance out the earthiness of the beets.

 

2008 GREENVILLE AVE | DALLAS


Matchbox Restaurant (Dallas)

Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita
There’s enough heat to light you on fire thanks to its jalapeño-infused tequila, but it’ll cool you down with hints of citrus from the Patrón Citrónge, fresh lime and muddled cucumbers.

 

7859 WALNUT HILL LN #140 | DALLAS

Mexican Sugar Cocina & Cantina (Plano)
When a restaurant does something well, they don’t need theatrics. Case in point: the entire margarita menu from Mexican Sugar. Mixologist Bonnie Wilson put together an unreal margarita program that gives you the option of ordering over-the-top margs (like the Margarita Granada made with pomegranate liqueur and Firewater Tincture), but the classic is so perfectly balanced that you may just choose that.

 

7501 LONE STAR DRIVE, B150

 

La Familia (Forth Worth)

Turner ‘Rita
Looking for a cocktail and a show? Just order La Familia’s Turner ‘Rita, served complete with an inverted bottle of beer and two limes with blazing, Everclear-soaked sugar cubes. Flame on.


841 FOCH ST | FORT WORTH



Woodshed Smokehouse (Fort Worth)

Colonial Rita
Celebrity chef Tim Love doesn’t mess around with his margaritas, and definitely not with the tequila in them. The Colonial has a “healthy” helping of Herradura Reposado Tequila and a kick of Gran Marnier to make it a perfectly smooth drink.

 

3201 RIVERFRONT DR | FORT WORTH

 

Baby Acapulco (Austin)

Purple Rita
When they say “limit two,” they aren’t messing around. These mysteriously potent purple beauties will add a bit of pep to your step and give you a brainfreeze to boot.

 

5 LOCATIONS |  AUSTIN

Curra’s (Austin)

Avocado Margarita
Down a couple of these famous frozen, creamy margs and you’ll have your Vitamin K for the week … and a buzz. For once, the avocado doesn’t cost extra.

 

614 E OLTORF | AUSTIN

El Chile Café y Cantina (Austin)

Chilango Margarita
What does “chilango” even mean? In a word … delicious. El Chile’s unique frozen variation is sweet, spicy and salty thanks to the fresh orange juice and Tabasco sauce, plus the house-made chili salt on the rim.

 

1809 MANOR RD | AUSTIN


El Tiempo Cantina (Houston)

Fruit Puree Margaritas
Sometimes life needs a little extra flavor, and El Tiempo gives it to you in their frozen margaritas topped with fruit puree. The raspberry, mango, strawberry, melon and coconut swirls are not only delicious, but gorgeous. And you’ll get a helping of fruit while you’re at it.


8 LOCATIONS | HOUSTON

Pastry War (Houston)

Margarita de la Casa
While still only using the conventional ingredients for a margarita, this option from Bobby Heugel (of Anvil Bar & Refuge) tastes a bit more haute than your usual shaken or frozen marg thanks to its use of Key and Persian limes and citrus salt. And the extra tequila. Add some extra flavor with a float for a buck.

 

310 MAIN ST | HOUSTON

Esquire Tavern (San Antonio)

Nuestra Margarita
Said to be one of the best margaritas in the country, this marg may take away clarity, but gives to charity. Esquire sets apart their “house” margarita from the mediocre versions swizzled by tourists on the Riverwalk just below by using two tequilas–Fortaleza Blanco and Siembra Azul Reposado–and fresh Key limes.  A dollar from each sold goes to the Tequila Interchange Project.

 

155 E COMMERCE ST | SAN ANTONIO

Mi Tierra (San Antonio)

House Margarita
Everything’s bigger in Texas, right? While it’s cliched, it’s true. This Mexican restaurant (that happens to be open 24 hours) started serving their classic margaritas 75 years ago and now offers them in “grande, jumbo and litre” sizes. From the taste to the size, there’s nothing little about them.

 

218 PRODUCE ROW | SAN ANTONIO