Why You May Want To Skip The Margarita At A Mexican Restaurant

Be it burgers and beer or steak and red wine, the right combination of beverage and meal can elevate the flavors of each element, and leave the consumer especially satisfied. Any list of the ultimate food and drink pairings must also include margaritas and Mexican food. Because of the many ways the two components can be customized, the combo works for any palette. A spicy marg can add some zip to your chips and guacamole, while a frozen margarita can grant you a reprieve from a peppery plate of fajitas. However, if you opt to order a margarita when out at a Mexican restaurant, you might be left disappointed.


The sad reality is that the margaritas at most Mexican restaurants simply don't provide enough bang for the buck. Speaking to Insider, Chef Firoz Thanawalla said that he avoids getting a margarita since they're "basically a glass full of sugars with some alcohol," and that all those high-caloric margaritas curb your appetite for when the meal actually comes. Given that you can buy an entire liter of margarita mix for less than the price of an average restaurant margarita, this is a drink you're better off making at home before or after the meal. 

What to order instead

Fortunately, there are plenty of other drink options that go perfectly with Mexican cuisine. One popular choice is the paloma, which contains tequila, seltzer, grapefruit juice (or just grapefruit seltzer), a squirt of lime, and a dash of salt. This bubbly, effervescent beverage captures the same sour and sweet taste you get from a margarita, and is the perfect refresher after a plate of nachos. If you want a replacement for the heat of a spicy margarita, you may want to opt for a Michelada. This cocktail is similar to a Bloody Mary, but it has a few differences. Instead of tomato juice, Micheladas are often made with Clamato juice, which is a mix of tomato and clam juice for extra savoriness. While a traditional Bloody Mary uses vodka, Micheladas use a light Mexican beer like Corona or Modelo. The result is a flavorful, unique drink that will bring some extra spice to your meal.


If you prefer a non-alcoholic option, it's hard to go wrong with an agua fresca. Agua frescas are cold blended drinks made almost entirely of fresh fruit, along with a bit of lime juice, water, and sugar or another sweetener. There are countless agua fresca flavors available, including watermelon, strawberry, guava, and cucumber. These beverages are incredibly refreshing and are a treat with any meal.

How to make an authentic margarita

There may be plenty of delicious drinks to order while out at a Mexican restaurant, but it's hard to escape the allure of a margarita. The good news for those of us who love the balanced taste of margaritas is that they are easy to make authentically at home, without heaps of sugar. All you need is a quality tequila, triple sec, coarse salt, and limes. Start by running a slice of lime around the rim of your glass. Then, press the rim into a small dish of salt. To make the drink itself, add ice, four ounces of tequila, two ounces of triple sec, and a little less than two ounces of lime juice to a shaker and shake. Strain the drink into your glass over ice. If you don't have a shaker, mix the ingredients right in your drinking glass and use a metal straw to stir. For a frozen margarita, just blend all the ingredients in a blender with ice.


Of course, there's no shame in enjoying a Mexican restaurant's house margarita. They're made to be tasty, and many chains even sell their margarita mix so you can imbibe at home. Just remember that when it comes to quality, there are better drinks out there, and margaritas are typically much more cost-effective when you make them at home.