Salud! These Are SF’s Top 5 Margaritas

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What with Cinco de Mayo this Thursday, it’s the perfect time to enjoy a margarita. In it’s most pure form, the margarita is a classic cocktail consisting of tequila, lime juice, and a little sweetener. Although its origins are unclear, the margarita first started popping up on menus in the 1930s and ’40s. Any cocktail that consists of a combination of spirit, citrus, and sweetener is known as a daisy. When translated into English, margarita means daisy, so it’s safe to say that American bartenders during the 30s and 40s were making daisies with tequila — as European spirits became scarce due to the upcoming world war. But enough with the cocktail history lesson, right? If you’re wondering when you can find the best margaritas in San Francsico, look no further than one of these five haute spots.

1 Tommy’s Margarita

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One of the world’s best margarita recipes comes from San Francisco's beloved Mexican restaurant, Tommy's. The Tommy’s margarita was invented twenty years ago by one of the co-owners of the Mexican joint, Julio Bermejo. Triple sec (or Grand mariner) is the traditional sweetener in a margarita, but Bermejo thought that the sweet liqueur made the cocktail to cloying. He started making the libation with agave nectar instead and the resulting cocktail is the ultimate minimalist margarita. Order a Tommy’s margarita at any good bar in the city and the bartender will make you a marg with just lime juice, good quality tequila, and agave syrup. Of course, there’s no place like the original inventor, so if you’re in the mood for the authentic Tommy’s marg, head to Tommy’s on Geary Street.
5929 Geary Blvd San Francisco, CA 94121

2 Comal’s Orange-Agave Margarita

The best margarita in the East Bay can be found at Comal in Berkeley. Designed by the Bon Vivants and honed by bar manager Matthew Campbell—a 2013 SF Chronicle Bar Star—Comal’s margarita features Cimarron Blanco, orange-scented agave, and lime juice. Like Tommy’s marg, there is no orange liqueur. According to Campbell “what differentiates the Comal margarita is that our agave nectar is steeped overnight with blanched orange peels to impart some of the flavor of an orange liquor without adding additional sugar to the drink.” Cheers to that!
2020 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA 94704

3 Hecho’s Watermelon Margarita

Hecho is a solid Mexican spot in the Castro. They’ve got excellent queso, a delectable chicken tinga tostada, and finger-licking good barbecued lamb tacos. Hecho also has four different margaritas on their cocktail menu. The best one is made with fresh watermelon juice. It’s a refreshing, fruity, and light margarita that tastes so good it almost feels like there is no tequila in it! These margaritas go down fast and easy—it’s difficult to have just one, so be sure to pace yourself and fill up on chips and made-to-order guacamole.
2200 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94114

4 Lolo’s Mezcal Margarita

Lolo in the Mission is on our short list of best Mexican restaurants in the city. Lolo serves up innovative Jaliscan cuisine, made with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients, in a bustling vibrant atmosphere. Their sopes aren’t your traditional sopes, but made with delicious blue corn masa and topped with black squid ink sauce, creamy avocado puree, and spicy haberno crema. Photos of Mexican beaches wallpaper the bar and eye-catching homemade eclectic decor is everywhere. But what about the margarita? Bar managers David Gallardo and Leon Vasquez have put together an unparalleled selection of mezcal cocktails and their mezcal margarita is perfection in a glass. Dubbed the Lorenita, this marg features mezcal, lime juice, and agave nectar. It’s served on the rocks and is a lovely balance of smoky, sweet, and tart flavors.
974 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110

5 Hog & Rocks Strawberry Margarita

Hog and Rocks isn’t a Mexican restaurant, it’s an awesome ham and oyster bar with exceptional cocktails. One of the Hog and Rock’s bar team’s inventions? The Smokey Strawberry Balsamic Margarita. This flavor-packed marg is fruity, smoky, sweet, and tangy. It’s made with blanco tequila, fresh strawberry puree, balsamic agave, and topped with a mezcal float and sprinkle of black pepper. It’s an unusual combination of ingredients, but it works wonderfully. Pair the margarita with Hog & Rock's gastropub-inspired fare—the chicken liver mousse is to die for.
3431 19th Street San Francisco, CA 94110
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