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Really sick of bad margaritas - Where's the real deal?

  • b

DO NOT tell me El Jardin or I shall have to hurt you.

To add to the bad list: Las Manzanitas (Halsted and Brompton) - detected Rose's Lime Juice. Yuck., the ritas at El Tipico - (Foster Ave. near the police station) - (the food is simply awful) are like a valium cocktail. Tasty but weird. They leave you feeling drained and sadly depressed. I believe our friend Michael has experienced these.

I want a good margarita and I want it now. I'll even put up with so-so food for a good one. Please help. North Side preferable.

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  1. you won't find them in a resturant. try this:
    1 part FRESH lime juice
    1 part Triple Sec
    1 part Cuervo Gold Tequila

    Salt glass (optional). Pour over ice. Let sit a minute. Careful, they're smooth and too, too drinkable. We've reduced friends to drooling idiots with them, which, hey, works for me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: susan

      Fonda del Mar on Fullerton has spectacular margaritas! And wonderful food!
      The tacos ensenada, sopes, and pibil cochinita are excellent.

      If you make margaritas at home, steer clear of Cuervo! Try Sauza Hornitas, and upgrade that triple sec to Cointreau. Also a splash of simple syrup balances the lime, and the salt on the glass (necessary!!).

      1. re: hungrywolf

        Hope this is still relevant to the OP. He started the thread SEVEN years ago.

    2. I love the mezcal margaritas at Frontera Grill. They're a bit unorthodox, but yummy.

      1. j

        I like the 'ritas at Adobo Grill myself. They shake 'em tableside, and they've got about 100 different tequilas to choose from. Perfect with an order of their guac, which is also made tableside. Geez, I'm hungry...

        1. Northside: El Tapatio corner of Ashland and Roscoe. Recommended dishes: pollo crepes and guisado de res (beef stew).
          Near North: This is a bar so grab some food from your favorite taqueria and then head to the Matchbox (corner of Ogden and Milwaukee). They make proper cocktails. The vodka gimlets made with fresh lime & raw egg whites are my favorite and a reliable source swears by the margaritas (don't be looking for a blender). It's cramped quarters so get there early and if it's nice you can snag a table outside.

          1. i had a nice margarita at izapulzalco (i am probably butchering the spelling here) restaurant on milwaukee avenue. speaking of which, the food was excellent...we went on a thursday which i believe is the night for the green mole...outstanding. the appetizers were exactly that...little tastes of mouthwatering guacamole, salsas, etc...that had us eagerly anticipating the entrees. the chef doted on us all night as we were one of the few tables there early. he was exceedingly congenial and generally interested in whether or not we liked the food. i am not a margarita conossieur, but this place is worth checking out for the food too.

            1. Based on someone's recommendation, either here or on chi.eats, we went to El Barco last night, for Mexican seafood. Two out of the three dishes we ordered were keepers (grilled octopus w/potatoes appetizer and deep fried red snapper with garlic and oil)

              More germane to this thread however, is that I thought the margaritas were pretty good. I am by no means a maven in this arena, but I was impressed when the waitress steered me away from the strawberry and toward the mango version. Her explanation was that the strawberries they were getting in the kitchen weren't very good right now, but the mango was quite fresh. I pressed her about whether they actually used fresh fruit in all of their drinks, and she said yes.

              El Barco is a fun, festive place where one can eat quite well with a little knowledge of the menu. It is also a little like Chinese dining, in the sense that the dishes are huge and are best shared among a large group. I will go back with four or more, in order to adequately explore the menu.


              El Barco
              1035 N. Ashland

              1. Last week I had an extremely good margarita at Chilpancingo, Geno Bahena’s newer place on Ontario. I simply ordered one straight up and was served, according to the check, their Margarita Azul. It wasn’t blue, just made with a blue agave tequila (not sure what brand but it was good). It was clearly made with fresh lime and a LOT of tequila. The shaker, containing almost a full second drink, was left on the table.

                Had a pretty good meal there also. Duck breast in an incredible mole with mashed sweet potatoes on the side. As always with Ixcapuzalco and Chilpancingo the mole was the star. Can’t remember what it was called but it was dark red and very complex with a few bits of pineapple and chorizo. It’s quite a good restaurant but not cheap (most main dishes $20-25).

                It looks like Genoroso’s, the bar/café next door, is now closed. I don’t think it was open more than a few months and I never had a chance to try it. Did anyone eat there?

                Finally, I couldn’t agree more with the suggestion of the Matchbox as a place for a good margarita. This is certainly one of Chicago’s great bars (in the sophisticated dive category) and Jackie makes some of the best mixed drinks anywhere.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rene G
                  Jacqueline Fields

                  I'm so pleased you like my mixed drinks! The Matchbox is definitely the place for margaritas.

                2. I can't agree with the El Tapatio recommendation. I really like the food there - for standard, inexpensive Tex Mex, its very good. But the last few times I've had margaritas there, I found them to be very syrup-y. They obviously are using a mix and not a very good one. In the same price range as El Tapatio, I like Lindo Mexico's margaritas better.

                  I agree with the Adobo Grill rec, though.

                  1. I would recommend La Fonda Latino Grill up in Edgewater at 5350 N. Broadway Ave. I used to live near there and the food is excellent and they have a gold or some other higher-end Margarita that I thought was fantastic. I am not sure what was in it, but it tasted simple, probably much like the recipe in the first post, but with something better than Triple Sec (headache inducer). The Sangria is also some of the best I have found in the city in my opinion. Food is very good as well. Columbian, not Mexican, so you are going to be ordering something more fancy (and much better) than a soggy super-burrito. Hope you enjoy.