We’ve taken on the grueling task of drinking countless margaritas for the sake of research. What a drag. After months of discerning between this giant chalice of tequila slushie and that shaken mezcalarita, we decided we’re not traditionalists. Salted rims are appreciated but not required. And experimental flavors like wasabi and watermelon are fair game. Plus, it doesn’t hurt if the cocktail is served in an environment that actually makes us want to drink margaritas with our friends. After all, margaritas are the ultimate social cocktail - and these 10 are ultimately the best in NYC.
Much like your choice of pet and feelings about paper straws, your margarita order says a lot about your personality. So you might feel a bit overwhelmed when presented with all 21 different margarita offerings at Calabrije’s in Bushwick. Take it as a fun opportunity to express yourself. Take a seat at the brightly colored bar, and order a delicious margarita with fresh lime and agave, served either on the rocks or frozen. Our top pick is the jalapeno-tamarind margarita, with its perfect balance of tang and spice.
This all-day Mexican restaurant isn’t just for consultants consulting each other over a late lunch - it’s for anyone who wants to drink a luxurious margarita between the hours of 11am and 11pm. Don’t believe us? Grab a seat at the walk-in-only bar during the day in your gym clothes and order the “Royale.” This excellent margarita mixes top-shelf tequila with a tinge of vanilla bean, fresh lime, and french liqueur to create a creamy, citrusy, cocktail drinking experience. It’s nearly impossible to just order one, so we recommend pairing yours with a bowl of chicken soup to coat your stomach.
If you’re a margarita purist, you might take issue with this wasabi margarita from an undeniably cool Japanese restaurant in Chinatown. But once you taste it, you’ll understand why it belongs on our list. This adventurous spin on a spicy margarita has a subtle blend of tequila, triple sec, lime, and a dollop of wasabi all served on the rocks. The unexpected combination of sweet and sour balanced by the intensely spicy wasabi is not for the faint of heart. But shockingly, it won’t invade your nasal passages and make you tear up either. It’s mostly a smooth roller coaster of flavor that heats up at certain moments and cools down at others.
As one of our all-time favorite Mexican restaurants in the city, we’d never suggest going to Casa Enrique for a drink without also ordering food. That said, the seasonal watermelon margarita here tastes like a tropical vacation drink that isn’t trying too hard to impress you. It’s made with fresh watermelon juice, lime, and tequila which means it’s not overly sweet, making it easy to knock a couple back to back without even realizing what you’ve done. If this happens to you and you suddenly need food, go for the fish tacos, mole de piaxtla, and a slice of tres leches cake.
Come to this Flatiron Mexican restaurant any day of the week and you’ll find it full of friends and coworkers eating spring pea guacamole, going to town on some of the best fish tacos in the city, and drinking basil jalapeno margaritas like there’s no tomorrow. This cocktail tastes like a simple spicy margarita with an herbaceous kick from the basil. But all of the ingredients taste extremely fresh like they’ve just been plucked from the Union Square Greenmarket. Plus, there’s basil salt on the rim for an added boost of freshness.
Cosme is a high-end choice for a margarita-fueled night, and in fact, our favorite margarita here isn’t listed as a margarita at all. It's made with both mezcal and absinthe, plus lime, fresh soursop juice, and blanc vermouth. And it’s got a floral and smoky flavor that’s absolutely unparalleled. Drink two rounds of these with an order of the excellent duck carnitas at this Flatiron spot, and you’ll probably be set for life.
“Deliciousness” is one of the key ingredients in Leyenda’s margarita, and while that might not mean much to your taste buds, we’re sharing it to let you know that this Carroll Gardens spot doesn’t take itself too seriously. That said, the cocktails here are some of the best in Brooklyn, and going out of your way to drink on their back patio is always a good idea. Leyenda’s perfectly simple classic margaritas can be ordered as a single serving or batched for up to eight servings because they already know you’ll want more than one.
The whole operation at Los Mariscos is affordable, convenient, and efficient. And it’s easily our favorite place to hang out around Chelsea Market. Inside, you’ll find a few picnic tables, an open kitchen, some fluorescent Christmas lights, and a small bar where you can pick up your margarita. We like to order the frozen mezcal one as a smoky-sweet reprieve from all of the chaos going on around us. Pair it with some fish tacos and ceviche while you watch soccer on the TV behind the counter.
If you live in Forest Hills or plan on seeing a few shows at the nearby stadium soon, this Mexican restaurant should already be on your radar. 5 Burro Cafe has a sidewalk patio on Austin Street that tends to stay busy. And that’s mostly because it’s a fun place to have a frozen margarita with a friend or two. From passionfruit to watermelon, and all of the classic flavors in between, it’s hard to go wrong with a tequila-based cocktail served in a glass jar at this Queens spot.
Clockwork is a dive bar on Essex Street in Chinatown that serves $8 frozen margaritas until 4am every night. The narrow bar is usually pretty crowded and sweaty, but if that’s what you’re going for, it’s fun. Plus, their margaritas are like the alcoholic slushie equivalent of a nightcap. We recommend making this your last stop of the night and finding someplace to sit on the patio out front.