Houston’s Margarita Power Rankings

Get a margarita frozen, on the rocks, with tajín, avocado, or a mango swirl.
close up og a glass goblet full of a frozen margarita cocktail with a salted rim, wedge of lime, and clear straw on a table with a basket of chips and bowl of queso

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Margaritas are basically liquid air conditioning. They’re cold, refreshing, and Houstonians enjoy them year-round. But what makes a great margarita? It takes a special combination of plenty of alcohol, a tajín-dusted rim, and the right balance of sweet and sour. Plus, it doesn’t hurt if the cocktail is served in an environment that actually makes us want to drink them with friends.


photo credit: Chelsea Thomas


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Drink: Tommy’s Margarita

After trying the Tommy’s margarita, it became the standard we compared every other marg to. Julep’s claim to bar fame may be its mint juleps (hence the name), but it also makes an incredible drink. Tommy’s margarita conspicuously leaves out any orange liqueur and swaps the sweetener for agave syrup—a possible margarita controversy. The ingredients get shaken so hard, that this drink might count as anger management therapy. But the result tastes refreshing, crisp, and smooth, with bits of pleasing ice chips and just the right level of acid— that drinking just one feels wrong.

Drink: Creamy Avocado Margarita

Something about a bright green beverage feels healthy-ish. And while that might just be the color green’s publicist working over time, the creamy avocado margarita at Better Luck Tomorrow leaves us glowing—that could also just be sweat from sitting on the sunny patio. True to its name, this marg tastes velvety and refreshing, and while it definitely contains alcohol, it’s more like drinking a smoothie than a cocktail. But no matter the weather—rain, cold, heat, humidity—this cocktail will brighten your day.

photo credit: Hugo's



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Drink: The Greatest Margarita

If by Greatest, Hugo’s means, “most expensive,” then, yes, this is the greatest margarita in Houston. Clocking in at $32, this marg contains french oak-aged añejo tequila, 25-year aged Grand Marnier, tangerine and lime juice, a hint of ginger, and gets served with a sprig of thyme. If you can age it, Hugo’s will margarita it, probably. And while the price tag is worth two and a half Hugo ritas, it does taste like silken liquid gold. It’s also pretty boozy without the sharp taste of alcohol. So if you want to drink the cocktail version of mythical honey, this drink is for you.

Drink: Ninfarita

The Ninfarita might be as much of a Tex-Mex legend as the entire Ninfa’s on Navigation restaurant. Served on the rocks, the tangy margarita goes down smoothly, which is why people order it by the pitcher. And when paired with a plate of sizzling fajitas, a Ninfarita on the table feels as standard as a basket of chips and salsa.

Drink: House Margarita

Andiron tosses in a little egg white in its house margarita, adding some fluff and froth to an otherwise straightforward cocktail. And while it’s lime-forward, the added texture gives the cocktail extra oomph when paired with smoky grilled steaks. But it also makes it feel luxurious, as though sipping on a boozy cloud.

Drink: Frozen Margarita

For a dive bar—especially one mostly known for finally getting a pool table after a change in management—Catbird’s offering a solid frozen drink of any kind feels somewhat miraculous. While some frozen margaritas taste like liquid triple sec and fake lime juice, this one tastes fresh, mildly boozy, and free of any manufactured margarita mix. The only thing you’ll have to worry about with a Catbird’s frozen marg is how to avoid a brain freeze.

Drink: Frozen Blue Margarita

The folks at El Patio make an incredibly efficient margarita. While the frozen blue and white marg come in glasses that seem like they’re a junior size, after a few sips it’s clear that size doesn’t matter when it comes to potency. And the only thing that makes this drink better is having it inside of El Patio’s adults-only club where you can sip this pint-sized drink while a man with a portable amp does an upbeat cover of “Hotel California."

Drink: Clarified Strawberry Margarita

Sometimes fruit-spiked cocktails can taste too sweet, like drinking a spiked fruit punch, but Nickel City implements a bartending magic trick (uses a filter) and makes bright pink strawberry juice for its clarified margarita. Similar to dosing Sprite with a Jolly Rancher (cue the Houston rap fans), the strawberry juice adds a splash of color and just a little sweet, fruity flavor. And while margaritas are already refreshing, the strawberry takes it just over the top and tastes especially soothing on a hot day.

Drink: House Margarita

If this list were solely weighted for potent margaritas, Tia Maria’s house marg would top the list. Effectively the cocktail version of a nuclear bomb, this drink will obliterate your ability to act like a normal human if you drink more than two. Served in a chilled chalice, frozen or on the rocks, and filled with as much everclear as tequila, two things are necessary if you want to have a few margs at Tia’s: a can-do attitude and someone strong to drive you home.

Drink: Classic Margarita

Like Andiron, Eight Row Flint’s margarita also contains a little egg white, though the effect is less fluffy because this drink tastes like straight-up tequila and lime. Given that Eight Row functions mostly as a patio bar, fruit juice tastes great if you’re sitting outside in the summer. Maybe whoever dosed out this drink has a crippling fear of getting scurvy, or enjoys flushing their taste buds with straight acid, either way, balance this marg with one of Eight Row’s tasty cheeseburgers which will help with the lime intensity.

Drink: The Original

With an entire menu page dedicated to the margaritas alone, it’s safe to say Pico’s takes their drinks seriously. The tables here are decorated with plastic neon shakers filled with everything from tropical blue drinks to classic margaritas. And while it might be the O.G., the original here falls short to other options on the menu. Mostly, a mouthful of El Jimador tequila and enough lime juice to pickle your insides, the only true note of this drink is sour. If you’re looking for a classic margarita here, order the pico rita (that’s far more balanced), and swing by during their all-day Happy Hour to get a few shakers worth.

Drink: Classic Margarita

We’re pretty sure the classic margarita at Armando’s was made solely for Thursday nights—when this spot turns into a dance club—to inspire folks to get down on the dance floor. This is fair, considering that the margaritas are arguably the best thing on the menu (food included). The classic margaritas don’t deviate too far from the standard, and each one is poured with a heavy hand—it’s definitely a powerful and reliable party starter.

Drink: Margarita Con Damiana

Cuchara serves some of the best Mexican food in the city, but its margaritas, especially the margarita con damiana, aren't on the same level. Served in a sad-looking handled mason jar, the margarita is sticky-sweet, watered down, and slightly warm. The addition of damiana liquor can add a chamomile-like flavor, but Cuchara’s version tastes bland, almost flavorless. We recommend getting anything but a margarita here. 

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