I have experienced many great margaritas in my travels across Texas. A Juarez bartender for 21 years, Pancho Morales claimed to have invented the margarita in the summer of 1942 at Tommy’s Place on Juarez Avenue in Old Juarez — on the Mexico side of El Paso. The drink was blended with tequila, Cointreau, and lime and served in a salt-rimmed glass.
Today, the margarita is as creative as the name. Below I chose unique margaritas in unique Texas places. Here are 13 of my favorites in no particular order.
1. Los Molcajetes
Not far from where we live in north Fort Worth, Los Molcajetes Mexican Restaurant is home to the best margarita around, served in a big schooner. I like the Beer-Rita, a frozen margarita with a Mexican beer — Dos Equis or Corona — turned upside down. The swirl is excellent with alternate layers of frozen margarita and frozen sangria.
Los Molcajetes is famous for its fajitas, and I love the chicken taco salad with salsa ranch dressing. My husband swears by their beef enchiladas; they taste the most like his mom’s.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Hotel Drover Autograph Collection in the Stockyards and explore the margaritas across Fort Worth.
2. Desert Door Distillery
I order the River Rita — made with Desert Door Original Texas Sotol, lime juice, pomegranate, agave nectar, a lime wheel, and rimmed with coarse salt — when I visit Desert Door Sotol Distillery. Handcrafted in Driftwood, 24 miles southwest of Austin, Desert Door Sotol comes from the wild desert succulent sotol, much like a premium tequila, but smoother. You’ll find the taste of orange zest, vanilla, and green grass with a smooth custard-like finish. Enjoy live music on the weekends and delicious eats from the on-site food truck.
Pro Tip: Stay nearby at Sage Hill Texas Hill Country Inn & Spa on 88 acres above Onion Creek.
3. Hotel Havana
The Havana Margarita — made with Pueblo Viejo tequila, lime juice, Naranja Liqueur, and agave — at Ocho in the Hotel Havana hits the spot after a hot afternoon walk along the river. Sip your margarita in the hotel’s glass-enclosed conservatory restaurant with bright turquoise chairs perched along the River Walk. The hotel features a weekly happy hour, with margaritas and small bites, like a black bean quesadilla, fried fish tacos, or chorizo mac and cheese.
Pro Tip: Stay at the historic Hotel Havana in one of the 27 landmark rooms on the Museum Reach, a quiet stretch of the River Walk amid the calm Caribbean vibe and rich Spanish colonial history.
4. The Driskill Hotel
Samantha’s Ghost is legendary, the Driskill’s take on a creative margarita made with mezcal, orange liqueur, and lemon. Or, for more adventure, try the Durango Cowboy, made with sotol, orange liqueur, sweet & sour, and muddled strawberries. Named the best bar in Texas by Southern Living, the Driskill Bar is all about Texas, with the grand Texas Longhorn gazing down at you, plus rustic leather couches, cowhide barstools, and cattle brand custom carpet. No wonder USA Today named it one of the 10 Best Hotel Bars in America.
Pro Tip: Stay at the historic Driskill Hotel on 6th Street and Brazos in downtown Austin. It’s in the middle of Texas history like the state capitol building, LBJ Presidential Library, and Blanton Museum of Art.
5. Candelilla Café At The Lajitas Golf Resort
Indulge in the prickly pear margarita, made with tequila, triple sec, prickly pear juice, and fresh lime juice, or get frisky with the Hot-Blooded Margarita, mixed with tequila, triple sec, jalapeño, blood orange, and fresh lime juice. Make it “Cadillac Style” with added Grand Marnier and your favorite premium tequila. Jet into Lajitas, a remote destination in Brewster County west of Terlingua near Big Bend National Park.
Pro Tip: Stay at Lajitas Golf Resort, a 27,000-acre Texas resort known as the best golf course in Texas, plus sporting clay shoot, cowboy action shoot, horseback riding, ziplining, agave spa, and its proximity for exploring Big Bend National Park. Or park your RV at Maverick Ranch RV Park and enjoy all the amenities and activities under the big and bright Texas stars.
6. Perini Ranch Steakhouse
Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, just south of Abilene, is home to the Mesquite-A-Rita, the ultimate margarita made with El Jimador Reposado tequila, Grand Marnier, and fresh lime juice served on the rocks. This famous steakhouse, third-best in Texas by Texas Monthly, features certified angus beef and the top prime label 22-ounce bone-in ribeye or 14-ounce bone-in strip cooked to perfection. Don’t miss the jalapeño bites for starters — jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon, and cooked to a crispy goodness.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Guest Quarters on the property; the main house is a restored farmhouse that sleeps five or the camp house that sleeps three with all the modern amenities. Have breakfast in the Gap Café and shop the Country Market for new kitchen supplies and gourmet foods.
7. Cibolo Creek Ranch
South Of Marfa
Enjoy an exclusive Cibolo Creek Ranch Margarita made with Texas Chihuahuan Desert Sotol, grown right on the ranch. Cibolo Creek Ranch is a leisurely 38-mile drive south of Marfa in west Texas, or 3 hours from El Paso and Midland International Airports in the heart of Big Bend Country. This Texas legacy since 1857 offers a disconnect from the world and a connection to nature on its 30,000-acre ranch offering hiking, fishing, birding, an outdoor swimming pool, and many personalized activities.
Pro Tip: If you drive this far for a margarita, you will want to stay at one of the stunning contemporary rooms or suites at Cibolo Creek Ranch.
8. Jett’s Grill At Hotel Paisano
Touted the best margarita in town, Jett’s Grill in the Hotel Paisano serves a killer margarita. Make it a Cadillac with Grand Marnier and “you call it” tequila. The historic Hotel Paisano was the headquarters for Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, and 150 cast members when they filmed the movie Giant in 1956. You can pick up movie memorabilia in the hotel gift shop.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Hotel Paisano, where each room is unique, from the original queen historic rooms to the Rock Hudson Suite: a one-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom apartment.
9. Reata Restaurant
Savor the Reata Grand Margarita at the Reata Restaurant in Alpine with Salsa Blue Reposado tequila, Quatro, Grand Marnier, orange juice, and sweet and sour. The original Reata Restaurant and sister to Reata in Fort Worth hosts legendary Texas cuisine.
Pro Tip: Stay at the historic boutique Holland Hotel, just around the corner and within walking distance. The Alpine Amtrak station is right across the street. You might need earplugs if your room faces the station.
10. Rough Creek Lodge & Resort
The Rough Creek Lodge margarita is premium, as premium as the accommodations, amenities, and activities at this five-star stunner sprawled across 11,000 acres of vast blue Texas sky south of Glen Rose. Award-winning Chef Gerard Thompson lives up to his philosophy, “make the meal memorable.” He certainly does, with jumbo lump crab cocktail over fire-roasted red pepper salsa and citrus fruits, red chile-glazed swordfish with shrimp quesadilla, and warm Texas pecan pie with vanilla bean ice cream and molasses bourbon sauce. Unforgettable!
Pro Tip: Stay at Rough Creek Lodge in the main lodge, cabins, or home rentals with an arm’s length of activities to entertain all.
11. The Gage Hotel
Sip the Prickly Pear Pura Vida Margarita at the White Buffalo Bar, made with Pura Vida Silver tequila, prickly pear juice, Texas Paula orange, and lime juice. Or get spicy with the Spicy Cowgirl mixed with Pura Vida Gold tequila, agave nectar, lime juice, jalapeño, and spicy rum. Yum! The 12 Gage Restaurant offers a shrimp campechana, steelhead trout with roasted poblano, potato, sweet pepper romesco, or the “Iron Mountain” chicken fried steak. Don’t miss the Mexican chocolate brownie for dessert.
Pro Tip: Stay at the historic Gage Hotel in Marathon, where they invite you to “kick your boots off and stay awhile.”
12. Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort
Savor a Troubadour Margarita mixed with Codigo George Strait Rosa Reposado, orange liquor, lime, sugar, and salted rim at La Cascada Table & Bar at Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort, 20 minutes from San Antonio.
Pro Tip: Stay at Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort, where owner George Strait says: “Come for a good time. Stay for a long time.” Play golf, indulge at the Salt Cave at Puresolspa, lounge poolside, join fitness camps, and enjoy margarita Mondays and weekend musical performances.
13. Starlight Theatre
You can choose from nine different margaritas here at the Starlight Theatre in Terlingua. The Santa Elena, with Herradura Anejo and Cointreau, is smooth and not too sweet. The specialty is the Prickly Pear’ita mixed with Casa Noble Crystal and prickly pear nectar. Yum! Get sassy with the Scorpion — the Chihuahua Hacienda Sotol makes it smoky.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Holiday Hotel in Terlingua for raucous revelry or a romantic rendezvous, lovely restored by the Bill Ivey family.