The Best Margaritas In Los Angeles
Though the exact origin of where the first margarita was created in Mexico is unknown, there's one thing that's true: it's one of the best darn drinks out there, especially on a hot L.A. day. But sometimes these magical concoctions made of tequila, lime and triple sec can be nothing more than a hangover on the rocks (with salt, please). But if done right, these balanced drinks can be divine.
If you're looking to waste a day in Margaritaville without leaving the city limits, here's where you should land. As always, tell us your favorite places in the comments.
Photo courtesy of Casa Vega on Facebook
Ray Vega first opened the restaurant doors in 1956, and now his 34-year-old daughter, Christy Vega Fowler, runs the show. The Studio City restaurant has become an iconic part of Valley living, in part because of their top notch 'ritas. If you plan on eating, go early. There's usually a wait on weekend nights, but their blanched margaritas are totally worth it. The classic is a must try, but the California Margarita made with Don Julio Silver Tequila, Cointreau, agave nectar, grapefruit juice, and fresh lime is our personal fave.
Casa Vega is located at 13301 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, (818) 788-4868
Las Perlas in Downtown L.A. boasts one of the city's largest collections of tequila and mezcal, and you can drink them neat or mixed up with some of their fresh ingredients. Their 6th and Main cocktail is their version of a Cadillac margarita, made with smooth Siete Leguas Reposado, fresh lime juice, agave nectar and a side of Gran Marnier.
Las Perlas is located at 107 E 6th St in downtown, (213) 988-8355
The flaming margaritas at El Compadre are a thing of legend. The Hollywood location's bar tends to get crowded, and we prefer the more local vibe at the Echo Park outpost— which has been around since 1975. There Dodger fans crowd around the bar during games chowing down on baskets of fresh chips and their signature drink. They are strong though, beware. You might find yourself a bit giddy listening to the live mariachis as rounds topped with flaming hulled out limes land on the table.
El Compadre is located at 1449 Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park, (213) 250-4505
El Carmen has a dizzying array of tequilas, and good margaritas to boot. Their signature is made with Heradura blanco, Cointreau and a scratch sour mix. The dim red lighting highlights paintings of Mexican wrestlers on the walls, which you should probably check out before your vision gets too blurry. That's entirely too easy to do during their happy hour from 5-7 p.m., where margaritas are $5 a pop.
El Carmen is located at 8138 W 3rd St. in Beverly Grove, (323) 852-1552
El Coyote has been serving L.A. since 1931, and is still going strong. We love their colorful and quirky dioramas that are displayed in their entrance almost as much as we love their margaritas. The scratch made with fresh juices is obviously the best of the bunch, and is a steal at $6 on their Margarita Mondays, where all their drinks are discounted.
El Coyote is located at 7312 Beverly Blvd. in Fairfax, (323) 939-2255
If you're a margarita purist, then the Texas margarita at Bludso's might not be your style. But if you're a fan of the shandy, then this drink will be right up your alley. The folks at Bludso's mix their 'rita with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, tequila, and limeade. You can definitely drink more than one, especially if you're following it up with some brisket and collard greens.
Bludso's is located at 609 N. La Brea Avenue, West Hollywood, (323) 931-2583
Photo courtesy of Petty Cash on Facebook
The entire cocktail program at Petty Cash is aces, and though there are complex cocktails on the list that use a centrifuge to purify drinks, the simpler things are pretty great too. Their margarita can be made with either tequila or mescal, and you really can't lose either way. The base spirit is added to fresh squeezed lime and citrus-spiked agave curaçao, and can be made with the "good s**t", as they say, for an extra three bucks.
Petty Cash is located at 7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 933-5300
Thomas Ortega—a veteran of the kitchens of Water Grill, Lucques and Patina—and his friend Demi Stevens have opened an unusually appealing Mexican restaurant in Redondo Beach. The birria and mole are as authentic as you'll find in L.A., and they go perfectly with their excellent margaritas. Stevens is a tequila expert, in fact, and leads Tequila 101 classes for those interested in upping their spirits knowledge. Thusly, the margaritas are naturally up to snuff.
Ortega 120 is located at 1814 Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, (310) 792-4120