The 10 Best Margaritas In Chicago
A good margarita shouldn't be hard to make and yet at taquerias and restaurants across Chicago we've either been bombarded with margaritas that rely too heavy on pre-mix, are too salty, or make one's mouth pucker to the point where your face will freeze that way.
Following are 10 margaritas that rise above the sweet tart pucker norm across Chicago. Mark 'em down and start sampling; the weather is perfect for it.
Adobo is a good place to get food and sit and pass the time while waiting to see some comedy at Second City. It’s also a really good place to be if you like tequila. And I really do. The Adobo margarita is well crafted, and can become a real thing of beauty if you go exploring the extensive list of anejos and reposados. Any time I’ve gone I’ve found myself in good hands when wanting to explore the world of tequila. You can also add a mezcal floater to your margarita for a bit of a smoky twist. And if you’re feeling saucy after a few margaritas, try out the Corazon de Sangria with its fresh watermelon juice, great for a hot summer evening. —Marielle Shaw
Adobo Grill Old Town is at 1610 N. Wells St.
I believe The Matchbox makes the best margarita in Chicago and I will accept no argument to the contrary. The tiny River West tavern keeps their recipe simple, with tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and a teaspoon of egg white added as an emulsifier. The mix is shaken and served in a martini glass with a powdered sugar rim and lemon zest. Regardless of the weather conditions, this concoction will have you dreaming of sandy beaches and tasty waves. — Chuck Sudo
The Matchbox is located at 770 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Big Star is rightfully at the top of many “best-of” lists. Their food is outstanding, the music selection great, the patio is always top notch, and the bourbon selection is stellar. The thing that keeps me coming back, though, is their margaritas. Yes, the classic margarita is wonderful, but the one to try is the “Big Star Margarita.” With the addition of Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, the margarita has a more complex, smoky flavor that is perfect with Big Star’s food. The lime crisis we experienced earlier in the year made Big Star raise prices on their margaritas. Now that the lime pricing has gone down, maybe we can see the prices roll back? — Paul Leddy
Big Star is located at 1531 N. Damen Ave.
The margarita at El Cid 2. (Photo via El Cid 2's Facebook page.)
This Logan Square mainstay’s margaritas are best consumed by the pitcher. Stick to the classic lime flavor, or add some color with the fruit-forward varieties—strawberry, raspberry, mango or tamarind. Come with a group on a nice evening and grab a table on the restaurant’s ample back patio, raise a glass and say salud to Chicago’s short, spectacular summers.— Chris Bentley
El Cid 2 is located at 2645 N. Kedzie Ave.
It’s no secret that Rick Bayless is the man and we Chicagoans will never stop singing his praises. When it comes to the quintessential margarita, just stop by any one of his restaurants. The recipe is simply perfect: fresh squeezed lime juice that incorporates the round flavor of lime oil, quality tequila and a salted rim. They’re delicious, they’re refreshing and they come in a small glass for $10. Trust, it’s worth it.
— Erika Kubick
Frontera Grill is located at 445 N. Clark St.
Lakeview’s “home of the killer margaritas” means business when it comes to the punch those drinks pack. Similar to nearly any of the bars and restaurants along Clark between Belmont and Addison, it won’t take long before you slide out of Cesar’s with a nice buzz going for yourself. The difference though is that the margaritas here taste much better than the $10 mystery punch fishbowls you can get up the street. You can’t go wrong with the classic lime or strawberry flavors on the rocks but we even appreciate some of the more adventurous blended options at Cesar’s like banana or the current seasonal option blood orange with passion fruit and pomegranate. — Katie Karpowicz
Cesar’s has two locations located at 3166 N. Clark and 2924 N. Broadway.
Back in the early days of Chicagoist we organized a staff dinner at this South Loop mainstay and the margaritas here were flowing like a flooded river. The “La Mamacita” here is still one of my favorites, a blend of Herradura silver tequila, natural agave nectar, fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice and fresh prickly pear. It makes for a nice twist on the traditional margarita recipe and is largely free of processed sugars. — Chuck Sudo
Zapatista is located at 1307 S. Wabash Ave.
Don Juan’s Restaurante
This Edison Park Mexican restaurant is one of the best-kept secrets in Chicago for its amazing, hand-crafted menu. The margaritas are on par with the food, whether you’re opting for traditional, strawberry, mango or Gold. The margaritas are on special here Mondays and Metra has a station steps from Don Juan, so you can get back to the city safely without having to drive the Edens expressway. — Chuck Sudo
Don Juan’s is located at 6730 N. Northwest Hwy.
The popular Bridgeport restaurant is best known as one of the best brunch spots in Chicago but they also serve an amazing dinner menu. Whether you’re dining here when the sun is up or setting, order one of their margaritas, made with fresh-squeezed lime, or get a twist on the cocktail with the addition of hibiscus. Margaritas here are $5 on Thursdays. — Chuck Sudo
Nana Organic is located at 3267 S. Halsted St.
When it comes to my margarita preference, I tend to lean more towards the blended variety because when it is hot in Chicago, I can think of no better escape than sitting on a patio sipping down a frosty frozen beverage. I like a little alcohol infused brain freeze with my humidity during the summer. A blended drink can go horribly wrong though, big chunks of ice, too watery, flavors that don’t hold as they melt. Thankfully Flaco’s Tacos has perfected their frozen margarita making and you can grab a cold one at one of their three Chicago locations. The blend is a perfect consistency, I’ve always been amazed at how long it takes them to melt and I’ve always gotten a smooth flavor that still packs a nice punch of tequila. And on Monday their house margaritas are just $4 a pop, the perfect cure or celebratory drink to the start of a new week. For the other sweet tooths out there, they offer a variety of flavors including a delicious peach, mango and strawberry. I like to pair a few rounds with a shared order of their super crispy nachos. — Lisa White
Flaco’s Tacos has three locations in Chicago at 725 S. Dearborn St, 46 E. Chicago Ave and 3530 N. Clark St.