The Five Best Margaritas in St. Louis

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Gut Check has been looking back on the Riverfront Times Best of St. Louis 2012, but we're also keeping an eye on the Best of St. Louis 2013 by nominating finalists for our awards this fall.

Bust out your sombreros and maracas, cause Friday is National Margarita Day! Why is this holiday celebrated in the middle of February, when it's generally too cold to sit outside and sip a cocktail in the sun? Gut Check has no idea. But we don't ask these kinds of questions. If someone says drink, we drink!

So yeah, we may be cold, and we may be in a Midwestern city known more for its toasted ravioli than its chile con queso, but St. Louis boasts a number of mean margaritas. Here are our picks for the five best margaritas in St. Louis.

See Also: - The Seven Best Barbecue Joints in St. Louis 2012 - The Ten Best New Restaurants in St. Louis 2012

The Finalists (in alphabetical order)

A margarita at Amigos Cantina. - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • A margarita at Amigos Cantina.

Amigos Cantina (120 W. Jefferson St., Kirkwood; 314-821-0877)

This popular Kirkwood restaurant has garnered quite the reputation for its mixed- and shaken-to-order margaritas. And with good reason. The blend of Hornitos Plata tequila, Cointreau, freshly squeeze lime juice and agave nectar refreshes with its blend of sweet and tart at the same time that it gives you a subtle -- we might go so far as to say elegant -- buzz.

Clockwise from upper-left corner: Las Palmas Margarita (Hornitos, Orange Curacao), Frozen Strawberry Margarita and the Blue Sky Margarita (Sauza Gold, Blue Curacao). - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • Clockwise from upper-left corner: Las Palmas Margarita (Hornitos, Orange Curacao), Frozen Strawberry Margarita and the Blue Sky Margarita (Sauza Gold, Blue Curacao).


Las Palmas (4030 Woodson Road, Woodson Terrace; 314-427-7177)

When we drag our ass out of the office after a long week's work and belly up to the bar for some chips, salsa and queso, we don't want to think too hard. We just want a tequila with some Cointreau and lime juice. Las Palmas fits the bill. The top-shelf margarita -- the aforementioned Cointreau and lime juice with 1800 Silver tequila -- is served in a damn goblet. That's enough to drown out not only memories of the long-ass week that's just ended, but also of all the bad margaritas you drank in vain in weeks past.

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Al Solis shows off  margaritas at Pueblo Solis. - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • Al Solis shows off margaritas at Pueblo Solis.

Pubelo Solis (5127 Hampton Ave.; 314-351-9000)

The "Cadillac" margaritas at this friendly family-run eatery are, simply, divine: good, tart lime juice; Sauza Gold; Grand Marnier and a little splash of sour mix. They would knock you on your ass if not for the bounty of chips and salsa brought to your table: With chipotle and verde salsas in addition to a just-hot-enough red salsa, you'll scarf down enough to get you through to a second pitcher. Did we say pitcher? Pueblo Solis is that kind of place.

A skinny margarita from Vida Mexican Kitchen - JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
  • A skinny margarita from Vida Mexican Kitchen

Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina (1137 St Louis Galleria; 314-863-1150)

Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina opened only last year at St. Louis Galleria, but it's already earned a spot among the area's best margaritas. Even a basic house margarita brings an enjoyable blend of El Jimador blanco tequila, triple sec, freshly squeezed lime juice and cane sugar. And if you don't mind spending the big bucks ($15), you can get the "Millionaire" margarita: Corzo blanco tequila, freshly squeeze lime juice and Grand Marnier.

And our Best Margarita is...

Milagro's epic bar. - MILAGRO MODERN MEXICAN
  • Milagro Modern Mexican
  • Milagro's epic bar.

Milagro Modern Mexican (20 Allen Ave. Webster Groves; 314-962-4300)

The margarita, like the martini, is a cocktail of simple, ineffable beauty that a generation of overeager and/or clueless bartenders (or, God help us, "mixologists") have either needlessly complicated with unnecessary extra ingredients -- remember the prickly-pear margarita boom? No? We blocked it out, too -- or dumbed down by cutting corners with sour mix and other such abominations. Not so at Milagro Modern Mexican, where the $10 top-shelf margarita returns the drink to its perfect roots: a reposado tequila of your choice (Don Julio, Patron, Tres Generaciones or Rio Azul) shaken with agave nectar and freshly squeezed lime juice. Atop this, for the final touch, the bartender floats Cointreau. The result is a gorgeous drink: sweet, tart, smoky, salty. You need nothing more or less for a great margarita -- except, perhaps, a second round.

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Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of St. Louis® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

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