As mentioned in my sneak peak the other week, I am in love… with Echo Park’s margaritas! A little disclaimer: I did not go to margarita school, I am just a self-proclaimed aficionado because I have had and created a lot of margaritas. There are several spots in Echo Park you can sit and enjoy my favorite mixed drink, but these are the best ways to enjoy margaritas in our small neighborhood:
#3: Barragan’s made the top three, but isn’t really my favorite. It’s a very, very popular spot and the best deal in town with the $2.50 margaritas served up every Wednesday night. The back patio is cozy and service is great, but the margarita snob in me keeps it from taking a number one spot. They have the necessary variety of tequila options, but the margarita mix was a stock margarita mix from a plastic, labeled bottle, so the margaritas end up being a lot sweeter while I’m more partial to enjoy a more tart mix.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go for a margarita at Barragan’s, as one of our readers pointed out in the comments section of my first post agrees with a commenter who doesn’t like a high price tag: “I agree, $8 and waaay west of Alvarado doesn’t count. I’m all for Barrigan’s very LARGE and VERY TASTY margarita on the rocks WITH SALT at a decent price. And I can walk there…!” It’s completely true – margaritas can certainly get expensive! But it seems Wednesdays are the time to go to Barragan’s – we spent $9-10 for each margarita plus tip for mid-shelf tequila.
#2: Allston Yacht Club serves up a lot of delicious mixed drinks, wines, and recently added a couple of taps for craft beers. As an ex-bartender myself, I always sit at the bar and chat with the always friendly and well-versed bartenders.
At AYC, order the Spicy Margarita. It’s mid-shelf tequila, fresh lime juice, agave syrup, and muddled jalapeños – but not too much. The jalapeño leaves a little heat in the back of your throat, and gets a tiny bit stronger and you drink it down. Overall, it’s refreshing and delicious, and worth the $9. But with happy hour prices Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30-7:00 pm, the $5 you’ll spend is more than worth it! Did I mention they also have a cozy back patio?
#1: El Compadre. I’m pretty sure you knew this was coming – El Compadre is a given. The ambiance is well-matched for margarita drinking, Dodger games are always on, and the bartenders are the best. At a dining table, margaritas come in their famous style (flaming), while at the bar they come sans flame (which is fine with me!). I always order a Cazadores Reposado margarita on the rocks with salt, knowing the good tequila will be more expensive, but boy is it worth every penny.
Cazadores Reposado is my favorite margarita tequila. Aged in oak casks, it’s certainly not a tame tequila and becomes well-balanced in margaritas. It’s particularly delicious when you have a good margarita mix, which El Compadre definitely does. They’ve had the recipe for 30 years, and try as I might I could not coax any ingredients out of the bartender.
Why pay more than a few bucks for a good margarita? Well, let’s put it this way: one margarita and you’re feeling good, two and you’re set (plus no hangover)! Why drink the several of the cheap stuff when you can have just a couple good margaritas, and enjoy it in the process?
Hopefully this helps your margarita choices in Echo Park. Remember, the bottom line is this: Good margarita mix, good margarita! And I don’t want to leave out the other guys, so the other spots you can get margaritas include the Short Stop, and, once the license goes through, even Rodeo Grill. Enjoy, and remember to walk home if you can!
Note: I pay for all of my drinks to ensure there’s no favoritism involved.