Essential DC Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo has come and gone, and while Washington is not know for its Mexican food, it has a robust bar scene ideal for grabbing a margarita or two to continuously celebrate the holiday. There are a lot of options, so don’t settle for any ordinary drink.

Too many margaritas are mixed with sub-par tequila  and sugary mixtures. The proper cocktails use pure agave spirits and fresh juices and liqueurs. Here are some of D.C.’s most essential margaritas for any day of the week, from classic, to frozen to flavored.

Jose Andrés is arguably the city’s most prolific chef. His Mexican concept is the popular Oyamel Cocina Mexicana (401 7th St, NW) in Penn Quarter. The Oyamel margarita ($12) is well-mixed with Milagro blanco tequila, Combier, fresh lime juice and topped with salt air foam. If you like a bargain, snag the classic margarita for $5 a glass during happy hour, which runs from Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

On 14th st, Tico‘s (1926 14th St, NW) Latin-American flare draws equally consistent crowds. Try the tropical hibiscus margarita, served on tap by the glass ($11) or pitcher. It’s made with premium tequila and orange liqueur and is a little sweet, a little tart and incredibly refreshing. They’re just $6 each during happy hour, all day Mondays and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Just down the road is El Centro DF (1819 14th St., NW), which also has a location in Georgetown (1218 Wisconsin Ave, NW). El Centro might just have the best margarita happy hour deals in the city. House margaritas – frozen or on the rocks – are made fresh and are just $5 every day from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. They pack a noticeable punch for the price, and are even a good deal at their regular $9 price tag.

H St.’s Impala (1358 H St, NE) Cantina y Taqueria is strong on value, with a standard on the rocks or frozen margarita checking in at $7, made with fresh lime juice, triple sec and tequila blanco. You can create a simple custom “margarita a tu gusto,”  for an additional $2.50 on the cost of any tequila.

Over in Bloomingdale, El Camino (108 Rhode Island Ave, NW) has a happy hour featuring $5 Camino margaritas, one of the lowest-priced options in town. The specials run Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and again from 10:30 p.m. to close. Because a margarita always makes a great nightcap.

If you live in Arlington, don’t miss Pepita Cantina (4000 Wilson Blvd), a cocktail-focused project from chef Mike Isabella. There are four varieties of margaritas, each priced at $9,  with flavors like classic, pomegranate and mango. The menu has other agave spirit cocktails as well, mixed with both tequila and mezcal.

Of course, these six bars only scratch the surface of where you can find a margarita in and around D.C. It’s awfully hard to go wrong, but these are arguably some of the best places to start and combine quality ingredients with a fun atmosphere. Cheers, happy drinking, and may the tequila go down easily this Cinco de Mayo.

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