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Great Margaritas in Washington

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We accept that Washington can’t match Texas or California’s version of Central American cuisine. But when it comes to the bite of lime and tequila that flavors a frosty margarita, our nation’s capital stands tall. We’ve slurped high and low to bring you our favorite margaritas. Did we miss any? Leave your recommendations in the comments.

Casa Oaxaca. When’s a margarita not just another margarita? When you have 20-plus kinds of tequila to pick from. At this Adams Morgan joint, the drink is given the same attention as the food, making the standard cocktail feel fresh, interesting, and, well, tasty. Prices vary depending on the tequila used in the cocktail. The restaurant also carries a selection of mezcal, a spirit similar to tequila but with a smokier taste.

Lauriol Plaza. If kick and variety are what you’re looking for, Lauriol Plaza’s margaritas will do the trick. You can practically have a margarita any which way you want: on the rocks, frozen, strawberry-flavored, peach-flavored . . . you get the point. Drinks are available by the glass, but pitchers ($25.99) are the best way to go.
Poste. Lavender and margarita aren’t two flavors we’d think to marry, but that’s the concoction that bartenders at Penn Quarter’s Poste have created. And here’s a surprise: It’s really tasty. The ice-cold margarita ($10) is lined with a rim of lavender salt, giving the citrusy drink a decidedly floral taste. Pair it with a cone of Poste’s thin-sliced French fries ($6) for a delicious pick-me-up.

Oyamel. Part of the José Andrés empire, this small-plates spot in DC’s Penn Quarter serves a classic margarita with a twist—it’s topped with a dollop of salt foam. Named after the restaurant, the drink ($11) is billed as Andrés’s favorite, and it might have been ours, too, had it been served cold rather than room temperature. Add a little ice, and this unique concoction is worth a second taste.

Las Placitas. The margarita at Las Placitas, a Salvadoran/Mexican restaurant on Capitol Hill’s Barracks Row, won’t change your life. But sometimes all you need is a salt-rimmed glass with a perfectly adequate margarita to make a summer afternoon better—and you can definitely get that here. Try the lemon margarita for a drink with a bit of extra tang, and snag a seat on the small outdoor patio to people-watch.

Guajillo. This Arlington restaurant may look like just another shopping-plaza storefront in an atmosphereless part of the Court House neighborhood, but don’t let the façade trick you: Inside is a warm, inviting Mexican spot that serves strong margaritas. The house choice comes in a large pint glass with a generous amount of salt; at first sip, the margarita tasted a bit too sweet and cloying, but the drink grew on us. Or maybe that was just the tequila talking.

Red Rocks Cafe & Tequila Bar. It’s hidden in the back of a Centreville shopping center, but don’t let that deter you from hitting this spot that may boast the best selection of tequila in Washington. The bar offers around 100 brand-name tequilas. And the margaritas? They’re flowing—in a variety of flavors from mango to guava to kiwi.

Mexicali Blues. Half the fun of margaritas is lounging outside with a group of coworkers. The lure of Mexicali Blues is just that: There’s plenty of outdoor seating. This Salvadoran/Mexican restaurant also has its near-bucket-size margaritas down to a T, with a menu page full of options. There’s a punchy pomegranate frozen option, but classic-margarita lovers will find solace in the La Carreta (Cadillac) margarita with Patron Silver and Cointreau. It’s generously salted and on the rocks. Perfect for lounging in the afternoon sun.

Rosa Mexicano: According to the menu, the frozen pomegranate margarita ($8.75) at this sleek Penn Quarter restaurant has been served since 1984. Dubbed the “signature drink,” the smoothly blended concoction packs a good punch of tartness. The tumbler is rimmed with salt, and a wedge of lime floats in the bubblegum-pink drink. Sit at the bar and munch on a few handfuls of the complimentary hot peanuts.

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