Today is National Margarita Day, a 24-hour ode to the sublime mix of tequila, lime juice and triple sec.
Shaken not stirred – never say no to a salt-rimmed glass.
The margins of a margarita are razor thin, easy to swing a slosh of tequila too far and taste only of alcohol, or more often swing the other way and come out too sweet and spineless. The perfect marg (it’s okay to say marg) is bright and refreshing, but also strong and sour, with room for spice if the mood strikes. Cactus-shaped glasses are also okay, but always be skeptical of sour mix and be careful with who you trust with a frozen drink machine.
Having National Margarita Day on Feb. 22 seems like a cruel joke or some desperate act of longing, to celebrate perhaps the most sun-kissed cocktail of them all in the last dregs of winter.
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Well, the Triangle gets the last laugh this year, with temperatures pushing 80 today, plenty enough to coat a glass in condesation and make it feel like summer is around the corner.
On this thirstiest of Thursdays, here are a few suggestions for can’t-miss margaritas. Let us know the ones we missed, and we’ll add them.
1. Centro and Gallo Pelon
Either downstairs at Centro or upstairs at mezcal paradise Gallo Pelon, owner Angela Salamanca’s joints are the safest bet for sophisticated yet simple margaritas. Gallo has one, the Smokestack Lightning, rimmed with spicy grasshopper salt and a chili pepper floating at the bottom. 106 S. Wilmington St, Raleigh.
2. Gonza Tacos Y Tequila
Incredibly popular and with five locations in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Wake Forest and Cary), Gonza is often a go-to for margaritas. Get them here by the pitcher.
3. Jose & Sons
This downtown Raleigh restaurant has a great range of solid margaritas, including one with Patron named after Bruce Springstein, who is el jefe. 327 W. Davie St. #102, Raleigh.
It’s absurd how good Nanataco’s $5 house margarita is. Pro tip: Split one with someone while waiting on your to-go order at this generally busy Durham restaurant. 2512 University Drive, Durham
This is the last National Margarita Day for this empanada-slinging joint in downtown Raleigh, which will close this weekend. 444 S. Blount St., #101, Raleigh.
6. San Marcos
News & Observer restaurant critic Greg Cox suggests splurging a little at this Tex-Mex joint and ordering its namesake marg. 5300 Homewood Banks Drive, Raleigh
7. Salt & Lime Cabo Grill
This North Raleigh Baja-themed spot is Yelp’s pick for top margarita. 6006 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh
The Chapel Hill-restaurant is making National Margarita Day a weeklong holiday. So if you can’t make it Thursday, a $7 Baba-Rita is available all weekend. Plus, you’ve got options like the mojarita, the pineapple margarita and a fresno & pepper cilantro margarita. 1800 East Franklin St. Suite 16, Chapel Hill, in Eastgate Crossing shopping center.
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson