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The classic margarita is, no doubt, a perfect mixture of tequila, lime, and a splash of orange liqueur. But it’s margarita season, and that means that now’s the time to take a hint from the spiny agave plant that blesses us with tequila and branch out. From sweet to spicy and everything in between, here’s where you’ll find the best margaritas in the Mile High City and beyond.
Best Pitcher: La Pasadita Inn
Seventeen bucks gets you and your friends a generously sized carafe of margaritas at La Pasadita Inn, a traditional Mexican restaurant in Curtis Park where you can pour your refills of the easy sipper into kitschy-cute cactus stemware. Housed in a skinny triangular building on its own concrete island at Park Avenue and East 20th Avenue, La Pasadita Inn has a cozy, living-room-size dining room, but tequila tipplers should try to snag one of the half dozen tables on the patio. 1959 Park Ave.
Best Spicy: Comida
The spicy margs at Comida in the Stanley Marketplace are diplomatic. You’ll feel the heat creep up in both the watermelon-jalapeño and the pineapple-habanero margs—but the sweetness of the fruit tames the fire, making for a spicy margarita that’s enjoyable to drink and won’t leave your lips burning. 2501 Dallas St., Unit 140, Aurora
Best Classic: Kachina Cantina
If you’re a traditionalist and you’re sticking to the classic margarita, respect. Count on the $9 Kachina Marg to deliver a perfectly balanced sip with a nice piquant flavor. If you’re pre-gaming before heading to Coors Field, Kachina Cantina also has a “Margarita on the Rockies” drink with organic butterfly-tea-infused tequila that turns it a Rockies shade of purple without making it cloying. 1890 Wazee St.
Booziest: Los Arcos
In a sprawling Mission Revival–style building in south Westminster, Los Arcos slings some surprisingly strong margs. (This could be due to a splash of Everclear that purportedly makes its way into the drinks, according to lore ruminating from the 10-seat bar that anchors the restaurant). The creamy, frozen margs come in every flavor imaginable, from strawberry to banana to papaya. Worth mentioning: On “Margarita Wednesday” you can get a free marg with dinner. 4991 W. 80th Ave., Westminster
Best Prickly Pear: Necio Mexican Kitchen
If your cocktail preferences lean more sweet than sour, then the prickly pear marg is for you, and you’ll find a bright pink one at Necio Mexican Kitchen. For the uninitiated, prickly pear is a cactus flower delicacy that almost tastes like watermelon bubblegum. The Lor de Nopal Prickly Pear marg is served over crushed ice and garnished with a torched lime wheel and flower petals. 4001 Tejon St.
Best Tropical Margs: Mister Oso
At Mister Oso—a Latin spot that’s known for fresh ceviche, playful menu items like a riff on the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, and a patio that’s like a secret garden in the middle of RiNo—you can customize the house marg to your liking. For a $1 upcharge, you can add a tropical twist. The featured fruits rotate, but expect flavors like tangerine or guava to put an “always summer” spin on a classic. 3163 Larimer St.
Best Mezcal Marg: Cantina Loca
Mezcal—the smoky, sultry cousin of tequila—is featured prominently on the menu and in the cocktails at Cantina Loca, Dana Rodriguez’s Mexican street food spot that opened earlier this year. You can get a straightforward mezcal margarita, or for a cocktail that’s loosely inspired by both the marg and paloma, try the New Higo, which is made with Rodriguez’s Doña Loca Espadin Mezcal (and for this cocktail, has been infused with fig) plus a house grapefruit liqueur, amaro, and orange bitters. 2890 Zuni St.
Biggest Selection: Federales Denver
With more than a dozen margaritas on the menu, you’ve got some decisions to make at Federales, an energetic tequila and taco spot in RiNo. As an ode to Colorado, there’s a spicy green chile marg that’s got a nice bite. The tequila rosé, which is like a blended marg collided with a slushy frosé, is also a fun mashup. 2901 Larimer St.
Best Frozen: Chakas Mexican Restaurant
Prepare for brain freeze and flavor overload: The frozen margs at Chakas Mexican Restaurant, a strip mall gem in south Denver, are the best in town. You’ve got options that range from guava to cucumber-jalapeño. The frozen mangonada is a house fave, and you can get it with a tangy tamarind candy straw. 6265 E. Evans
Showstopper: My Neighbor Felix
For large format, Instagram-worthy margs, head to My Neighbor Felix, where you can choose between frozen strawberry-banana margaritas and ones made with hibiscus-infused tequila or peach purée. This LoHi spot also churns out some noteworthy spicy margs, calling in Tanteo’s jalapeño-infused tequila, which gives the agave spirit a nice bite. 1801 Central St.