Paradise Cafe Margarita, courtesy photo
A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! By Leslie Dinaberg
Margaritas are part of the DNA of Santa Barbara and—along with buying Cascarones and seeing old friends—one of my favorite ways to celebrate Old Spanish Days. My son was born on July 27, 1999 and once I got over the initial euphoria, the first thing I wanted to do was drink a Margarita. After all it was Fiesta time and that’s how we do it around here.
There are lots of wonderful places to get Margaritas this weekend (and any weekend for that matter). Here are a few of my favorites downtown:
El Paseo Restaurant (813 Anacapa St.) is one of the oldest and best places to celebrate Fiesta, and their El Paseo Margarita, made with Hornitos, Citronage and Grand Marnier always yummy. Rumor has it my late father-in-late was known to drink these out of lovely seniorita’s shoes during particularly lively Fiesta celebrations. I guess we’ll never know, but the legend lives on.
Carlitos Cafe Y Cantina (1324 State St.) also has terrific Margaritas made with fresh juices, not to mention a fun patio for people watching.
You also can’t beat the beautiful Spanish-influenced interiors of Cadiz (509 State St.) for cocktails, and their Margaritas are sublime.
Paradise Cafe (702 Anacapa St.), as I’ve written before, has simple, straightforward and consistently delicious Paradise Margaritas, poured straight up on the rocks, with Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila.
Casa Blanca, (330 State St.) with its intricate tile work, is one of the most beautiful restaurants in town. Try the Prickly Pear Margarita for special treat, made with El Charro Reposado Tequila, fresh prickly pear and a dash of triple sec, lemonade, fresh squeezed OJ and fresh squeezed lime.
Cielito Restaurant in La Arcada (1114 State St.) has a to-die-for Millionaire Margarita made with Don Julio 1942, Grand Marnier 100-year and fresh lime juice on the rocks but if the $35 price is too steep for you, I also recommend their spectacular Blackberry Margarita, made with Peligroso Blanco, Leopold’s Rocky Mountain Blackberry, fresh lime juice and agave syrup.
With a name like Blue Agave (20 E. Cota St.) it’s no surprise that this place has a long menu of Margaritas. Try the Guava Margarita (Guavarita?) for a delicious fruity variation of the classic.
No matter which direction your taste buds take you, all of these Margaritas taste exactly like a Margarita should: with enough tang to make your lips pucker, enough sweetness to make everyone look prettier and enough Tequila to make your companions smarter, more and wittier, if not downright hilarious.
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Originally appeared in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine.
When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”