There are almost as many different kinds of margaritas as there are neighborhoods in St. Louis. Cocktail snobs have versions with top-notch tequila, fresh-squeezed lime and a perfectly salted rim; bargain hunters get fat globes filled with no-frills liquor frozen into a slushy with tart sour mix. You can add Blue Curaçao, mango or raspberry, agave nectar or sugar, Grand Marnier or Cointreau. You could even add banana, though we wouldn't recommend it.
St. Louis has no shortage of places to order these delicious concoctions —- and while it's nearly impossible to choose just one favorite, we were able to narrow our list down to 12. You can't go wrong at any one of these places.
1) El Bronco
2817 Cherokee, Cherokee District; 314-762-0691
In addition to great food and a fun atmosphere (we were serenaded on our visit), Cherokee Street's El Bronco features a host of reasonably priced margaritas, from $6.25 to $8. These are great choices if you don't love the taste of tequila — the strawberry margarita will go down just like Koolaid. Not into sweets? A Colombia-born friend says the michelada here (beer, lime, salt, tomato juice, clam juice, soy sauce, hot sauce and chili powder) is the best he's had in the U.S.
2) Puebo Solis
5127 Hampton Ave., St. Louis Hills; 314-351-9000
This cheerful Hampton Avenue spot boasts great Mexican food and really big margaritas for $9. The premium, made with Grand Marnier, was definitely the smoothest and strongest of the three we tried, but the Blue Curaçao adds a nice changeup if you like something sweeter. Service is friendly, and in warm weather, you can't beat the patio.
3) Tower Taco
3147 Cherokee Street, Cherokee District; 314-256-1141
This spot on the western end of Cherokee boasts that all of its margaritas, even the house versions, come with tequila from 100 percent blue agave from Jalisco. And, yes, that makes a difference. We're big fans of the Top Shelf, which features a really generous pour of Tequila Somonque Reposado for just $8. It's crisp and lighter than traditional margaritas — definitely a must-try.
4) The Royale
3132 S. Kingshighway, the Grove; 314-772-3600
Even regulars may not realize there's a great margarita on the menu at Steve Smith's beloved neighborhood place — when you think of the Royale, you don't necessarily think of Mexican cuisine. But it proved to be one of our favorites on a recent taste-testing mission, and at $6, one of the best bargains to boot. Surprisingly strong, with a light and refreshing taste, it features Agavero, an anejo tequila liqueur flavored with Damiana flowers. This isn't a margarita for a young drinker seeking frozen strawberry fishbowl — but for sophisticated palates, it's a wonderful choice.
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