In most U.S. cities, margaritas are the most popular alcoholic drink served at bars and restaurants. Chicago is different, with cold weather making whisky drinks like the Old Fashioned more popular. But Chicago transforms in the spring and summer, making the city crave something more refreshing. The city has no shortage of quality Mexican restaurants and bars that specialize in tequila and mezcal, so drinkers are in for a treat worthy of patio season. The city’s margaritas mix up style and fun. Here’s a few of the best.Read More
Where to Sip a Refreshing Margarita in Chicago
From classic to newfangled, here’s where to drink the Mexican staple
Featured on the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list since it opened in 2017, Logan Square Tex-Mex spot Lonesome Rose just added an Andersonville location this year. Big groups are welcome to share pitchers of margaritas made with blanco or reposado tequila, mezcal or a mix of tequila and sotol. There are also rotating frozen varieties that can be combined into a boozy icy swirl.
Ravenswood’s Rojo Gusano specializes in mezcal, so you’ll find both classic tequila margaritas along with a mezcalita served in a tajin-rimmed glass. You can get better acquainted with agave spirits by sipping something from their extensive menu alongside tacos featuring handmade tortillas.
El Alebrije Mexican Restaurant & Bar
There’s a margarita for every palate at Irving Park’s El Alebrije, which serves 10 versions incorporating coconut, mezcal, or dried chipotle. Chef Angelica Torres shows off contemporary spins on the flavors of her native Morelos in the colorful space, so settle in with your drinks and order grilled chile-marinated skirt steak or rack of lamb in mole negro.
Tuco and Blondie
Tuco and Blondie is a family-friendly spot that elevates Mexican-style staples to modern Chicagoan sensibilities. The colorful spot adds an egg white to its classic drink for a refreshing twist available by the glass or pitcher. Add on some flavor with options including avocado and prickly pear or cool off with a frozen version.
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Mi Tocaya Antojería
Plenty’s been written about the excellent food at Diana Dávila’s dynamo in Logan Square, but patrons should also peruse the cocktail list assembled by beverage director Estefanía Bermudez and general manager Jacqueline Gonzalez. It includes a traditional margarita (tequila blanco, lime juice, orange liqueur, agave) alongside tequila- and mezcal-based creations like El Grito (Almendrado tequila reposado, lemon, orange, sumac, foaming bitters) and the Chicana (beet-infused mezcal, sunflower oil, cynar, habanero, serrano, lime).
Old Pueblo Cantina
Celebrating the food and drinks found on the border between Tucson, Arizona, and Sonora, Mexico, Old Pueblo Cantina serves frozen margaritas made with seasonal fruit, a classic version and Lobo Loco (cucumber, jalapeño, chile salt). They’re all available by the class or pitcher alongside pours of small-batch tequila and mezcal indoors and on the dog-friendly patio.
Las Fuentes Restaurant
Las Fuentes has it all: a lovely outdoor patio, solid Mexican food, and tons of margarita options. The Lincoln Park location is currently closed for renovations, but diners and drinkers can head to the new Bucktown restaurant for traditional, fruity, and smoky cocktails by the glass, half- and full pitcher.
Dos Urban Cantina
This creative Mexican restaurant in Logan Square from a husband-wife team who worked with Rick Bayless has a few margaritas on the menu. The top shelf comes with Calle 23 blanco tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice.
Patio destination Big Star has featured a classic margarita (tequila, Marie Brizard Curacao, Gran Gala orange liqueur, lime juice) on its menu since 2009. It’s available by the glass or pitcher. The company also offers a canned version that’s for sale at Binny’s, Foxtrot Markets, and some Whole Foods locations.
This fun and casual Mexican restaurant also has locations in West Loop and Lincoln Park. There’s an extensive selection of margaritas with varieties including coconut, tamarind cilantro, pineapple serrano, and cucumber. Groups can order a margarita tower so there’s no wait for refills. There’s also patio seating.
The cocktail menu at Esmerelda’s Lounge in Humboldt Park tends to err on the tropical side with its Caribbean cocktails. Despite that, bartenders have concocted an unusual spin to tempt margarita drinkers: a bell pepper margarita with mezcal, lime, and worm salt (made from the larvae that inhabit the agave plant). There’s also a classic margarita available for $5 during happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. daily.
Star chef Carlos Gaytán’s upscale restaurant Tzuco in River North is a subtle and smart love letter to his hometown of Huitzuco, Mexico and mixologist Mica Rousseau applies the same thoughtfulness to his cocktail menu. Fans of the classics can try a Tzuco Margarita (tequila, orange liqueur, elderflower, cucumber, lime), or order the new Doña Margarita (tequila, Ojo de Tigre mezcal, grapefruit, lemon and agave) served with citrus salt.
The first bar from Rick Bayless is tucked behind Xoco and accessed through an alley. Beyond offering an extensive selection of agave spirits, the menu features seasonals cocktails alongside spins on the classic margarita. Try the jalapeño grapefruit margarita (jalapeño-infused Tanteo blanco tequila, lime, fresh grapefruit) and the Mango Chamoy mixed with Espolon blanco, lime and Topo Chico and served in a bag.
La Josie, a rare family-owned spot on Randolph Restaurant Row, has a deep mezcal menu with selections from eight Mexican states. Drinks including a margarita with mezcal (Ilegal, lime, Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao, organic agave, gusano salt rim) and a margarita with tequila (Libelula, lime, Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao, organic agave, salt rim). Patio seating is available.
Cruz Blanca Brewery & Taquería
This West Loop brewery and taqueria, perched next door to Baja-influenced sister restaurant Lena Brava, offers a tight selection of margaritas. These include a house option (Cabo Wabo, orange liqueur, agave, lime) and a mezcal-based counterpart with grapefruit, plus a spicy mango margarita with a tajin rim. They’re all available by the glass or pitcher.
La Vaca Margarita Bar
The huge patio at boisterous Pilsen spot La Vaca opens on Cinco de Mayo every year. It might just be paradise for margarita fans as it features a big variety of options by the glass or pitcher that include tamarindo, mango, strawberry jalapeno, cucumber, and passion fruit. DJs add to the fun Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday.
Mexican restaurant La Luna in Pilsen serves a signature margarita made with Gran Centenario Plata, Cointreau, lime and agave, plus a premium version using Casamigos reposado tequila or Del Maguey Vida mezcal. Both are available by the glass or the pitcher and can be spiced up or flavored with mango or strawberry.
Drinkers can customize their margarita by choosing between Dos Alas Tequila Blanco and Petunia Mezcal and nine flavors including strawberry, mango, pineapple and coconut. Other riffs include La Macarena, which combines a lime margarita with sparkling red wine. The Pilsen restaurant also serves tequila and mezcal flights and a wide variety of other cocktails made with the spirits such as a mezcal negroni and tequila cosmo.
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Del Toro Tequila Bar & Restaurant
A sleek and modern spot with a menu of top-notch tacos, Del Toro doesn’t disappoint when it comes to margaritas. Patrons will find 14 varieties such as the Piña Picosa (jalapeño-infused 3G blanco, ancho chile liqueur, pineapple, lime) and Passion Fruit (3G blanco, Cointreau, passion fruit pulp, lime). Margaritas are also available bottled to go and most can be prepared without alcohol so everyone can get in on the fun.
Bartenders at Osito’s Tap have an undeniable advantage over nearly every other margarita-maker in Chicago, as they come armed with access to sister retail spot Moreno’s Liquors — home to the largest collection of tequilas in the Midwest. Favorites on the menu from beverage director Juliana Valencia include El Pepinaso (Corazon tequila blanco, aloe liqueur, cucumber, jalapeno, lime, agave nectar, jalapeno/habanero salt rim) and a reposado margarita available for $10 during happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.
Pop by Antique Taco for refreshing and fun takes on the traditional margarita in Bridgeport and Wicker Park. Flavor options include rosemary, strawberry lemon and tropical mezcal and they’re all available as a single serving or by the quart. Order at the counter and then savor the drinks and the weather on the patio.