CHICAGO — There's just something about summer that calls for tequila. But as Chicago bars expand their whiskey and craft beer selections, it's sometimes tough to find a quality margarita or other tequila cocktail.
So, in honor of National Tequila Day (July 24), we're here to help.
We asked our reporters and editors to share their favorite places for a margarita and other tequila cocktail in the city.
Big Star: Yeah, we know this is an obvious one. But that's because they're SO GOOD. From the Big Star margarita (made with tequila AND mezcal) to the classic, you can't go wrong. Not a margarita fan? We don't understand you, but maybe try a Paloma (tequila, grapefruit, lime and fresca) or their seasonal cocktail made with watermelon, cucumber and spicy tequila. Big Star, 1531 N. Damen Ave. Tequila cocktails $8-9.
Bar Takito: Head to the West Loop for Bar Takito's many, many tequila and mezcal cocktails. If you like a combo, you can add a "mezcal float" to their classic margarita or cucumber marg, which is super refreshing on a hot summer day. 201 N. Morgan St.
Bar Takito offers "mezcal floaters." Yes, please. Facebook/Bar Takito
Cindy's: The hottest rooftop bar in the city right now is Cindy's, which sits on top of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, where you can take in exceptional city views and sip a cocktail crafted by one of the city's best beverage directors. Violet Hour and Big Star alum Nandini Khaund's "Kick in the Daisy" cocktail will set you back $15, but includes top notch liquors. Think of it as a watermelon margarita with a hint of marshmallow. Swoon. Cindy's, 12 S. Michigan Ave.
Parson's Chicken and Fish: Parson's Negroni Slushy is the original, but the casual Logan Square spot from the folks behind Longman & Eagle also offers up a delicious frozen margarita, with Hacienda Vieja, Mandarine Napoleon, lime and OJ. If you're looking for something more potent, try the Tequila Tripleback, which is a shot of tequila chased by a slice of jicama and a shot of house-made verdita — a fresh-tasting blended green juice that will make you forget you didn't want that shot in the first place. Parson's Chicken and Fish, 2952 W. Armitage Ave., Slushy: $8, Tripleback: $6
A beautiful boozy slushy rainbow. Facebook/Parson's Chicken & Fish
Chipotle: You might not expect to find a reasonably-priced and delicious margarita at a national fast food joint, but Chipotle's margaritas are on point. The margaritas have been around since the burrito haven opened, but they've since switched from a marg mix to original ingredients. The drink is a blend of triple sec, lime and lemon juices, and organic agave nectar, with a Sauza Tequila-based drink setting you back $5.15 after tax and a Patron Silver $7.83 after tax. For bonus summer enjoyment, find an open-air city location, hop on a window-seat stool, and people watch while getting buzzed and eating burritos on the cheap. Various locations.
La Fiesta: Margarita lovers in Mount Greenwood have a long-standing love affair with the tequila concoctions served up at La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant. Margaritas are served frozen or on the rocks in traditional flavors of lime and strawberry. Adventurous margarita enthusiasts can also try flavors such as raspberry, banana, blue, mango, peach, watermelon, grape, blue raspberry and sangria swirl. Or really treat yourself with a prickly pear margarita for an extra $1 per glass or $2 per pitcher. La Fiesta, 3333 W. 111th St., Mount Greenwood. Margaritas cost $6.25 per glass or $25 for a pitcher.
High Noon Saloon: There is more to tequila than margaritas, like drinking it straight. Wicker Park's High Noon Saloon will offers a top shelf tequila flight for $18 on Fridays. You’ll get Fortaleza blanco, Herradura reposado and Abandonado anejo tequilas, all served with a palate-cleansing housemade sangrita. High Noon Saloon, 1560 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Adobo Grill: Adobo Grill, with its perfect people-watching patio along Wells Street in Old Town, has an extremely lengthy list of tequila-based drinks. The Adobo Margarita is made with 100% agave Corazon and is shaken tableside with fresh line juice ($9.75). For the highrollers out there, the Maria Felix Margarita features Herradura Seleccion Suprema, Grand Marnier 150 year and lime juice for $65. Adobo Grill, 1610 N. Wells St.
Flaco's Tacos: Sometimes frozen margaritas can be too sweet and not nearly boozy enough. That is not the case at Flaco's Tacos, the quick, tasty and cheap Mexican spot with locations Downtown and in the South Loop. The creamy, delicious frozen margs are only $3 on Mondays and $5 the rest of the week. A steal! Get the nachos and have a few, but don't drink them too fast: brain freezes have happened. Flaco's Tacos, 46 E. Chicago Ave. and 725 S. Dearborn St.
Cesar's: If you've ever wanted to drink a margarita the size of your head, here's your chance to go big or go home. Cesar's in Lakeview, best known for their "Killer Margaritas" (and gratis chips and salsa) has margaritas that come in only two quantities: Large and mega. With flavors like mango, blood orange, raspberry and the almighty delicious tamarindo — plus seasonal faves like watermelon and coconut — you can save yourself from the strangling clutches of summer humidity with this cool drink. Plus, tequila shots served in neon-colored Cesar's shot glasses are passed out for free on the regular. Cesar's, 2924 North Broadway and 3166 North Clark, margaritas $11-13. Worth it.
Cesar's is known for their Killer Margaritas, and rightfully so. [Facebook/Cesar's]
El Gordo: Mexican food lovers can wash down this Northwest Side restaurant’s huge burritos and tortas with one of their margaritas, which are known for being heavy on the booze and light on the ice. El Gordo, 5746 W. Belmont Ave. $4-5.
Frontera Fresco: Rick Bayless allows you to drink then shop for clothes Downtown ... in the same building. His Frontera Fresco restaurant on the seventh floor of the State Street Macy's serves margaritas along with tamales, huaraches and more classic Mexican fare. Frontera Fresco, Macy's Seven on State, 111 N. State St. Fresco Margarita $7.50. Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Commonwealth Tavern: Try the Martha's Rita at Roscoe Village's Commonwealth Tavern. The $9 drink includes Milagro tequila, sriracha, agave nectar, orange and lime juice. 2000 W. Roscoe St.
Lalo's: Sip on a fruit flavored margarita made with Milagro Silver tequila from Lalo's on Maxwell Street. There are several options to choose from. From the standard lime to raspberry, strawberry and mango. A small marg is $8.95 and the large is $11.95. There's also the option of splitting a pitcher for $26.95. Lalo's is at 733 W. Maxwell St.
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