Drinks hold endless possibilities. So do Saturday nights.
One of those nights, we embarked on a crawl. This wasn’t your normal crawl where you hop from bar to bar. We were on a mission for margaritas.
Harrisonburg has come to be known as a food capital in Virginia, and where there’s good food, there has to be good drinks. After stumbling upon our first stop on accident, we built our map for the evening off what each restaurants’ bartender recommended as their own favorite if they couldn’t pick their place of work.
While this isn’t a contest by any means, we came up with a list of the five margaritas you absolutely need to try if you’re taking a trip downtown.
We weren’t supposed to end up here. A 5-minute walk to our original first destination gave way to a close to an hour wait. After we put our name on the list and went to explore further, we decided to take a chance on the single margarita on Cuban Burger’s menu.
Boy, are we glad we came. We’re firm believers drinks should put the smack down. Cuban Burger’s sent us flying back into the corner of the ring.
This one is crisp. We’re talking hot summer day when you’re 10, taking your first sip of water after playing outside for two hours crisp. Take that deliciously cool refreshment and add a splash of jalapeño and the briskness of cucumbers — then, you’ll have Cuban Burger’s margarita.
This marg knows exactly what it’s doing. Made with jalapeño-infused Lunazul tequila, cucumber, agave syrup and fresh lime juice, it strikes the perfect balance and isn’t overly sweet. Cuban Burger isn’t a stranger to strength, and this drink had plenty of it.
Cuban Burger sent us to Bella Luna.
Now, we had to seek this margarita out — it isn’t on the menu. Why? The bartender says its a well-known enough drink that is doesn’t need to be.
Bella Luna’s version of a classic margarita includes either silver of white Pepe Lopez tequila, triple secc, lime and sugar to taste. This one will surely make your lips curl. The homemade sours hold strong and this margarita was the tangiest of the night, giving it a unique twist unlike any of the other drinks we tried.
Local Chop & Grill House
If margaritas were men, Local Chop & Grill House’s version would be the one you’d be proud bringing home to your parents.
Seriously, he’s dreamy. And classic. He’s the one that comes to your door on a date and introduces himself to your dad. He’ll win your mom over with his charm. He’ll become your older brother’s best friend through his impeccable sports knowledge.
Best of all, he’ll give you a good time. But, that may just be the tequila.
Of course we’re kidding, but if this drink could actually become a man, we’d marry it. Local Chop’s is, arguably, the archetype of a great margarita. Crafted with lemon, lime, grapefruit juice, Lunazul, Cointreau and house-made sours, it hits the mouth smooth. One standout factor of this drink was its salinity. This one was the saltiest of all with a thick — and we’re not talking about his arms — enough rock salt rim to last the entire drink. Local Chop’s marg went down the easiest and had the best aftertaste.
Everyone loves choices. At Rocktown Kitchen, they’re abundant.
Margaritas here are an art, and creators have the opportunity to pick their palette — and by palette, we mean tequila. Rocktown gives restaurant goers a chance to pick what type of tequila they want their marg made with. Since we wanted to go all out, we chose Patron.
Take the sun. Grab it out of the sky — careful now, don’t burn yourself — squeeze it and toss it in a glass with a garnish. That’s this margarita.
Rocktown’s margarita is the equivalent of a summer day. Its balance of flavors was the smoothest and had the most colorful flavor. This one’s made with a stronger orange juice base than the others, which they say provides more body and volume to the drink. It also includes triple secc and hourse-made sours.
Who knows, maybe it was the Patron, but this marg stood out. It wasn’t quite what you think of when you imagine your classic margarita. With most margaritas aiming to give you a lemony-lime taste, the use of orange juice really pops.
The smoothness of the Patron mixed with the tanginess from the orange juice gives you a unique twist while still satisfying your margarita craving.
Magnolia’s Taco & Tequila Bar
We couldn’t write about downtown margaritas without mentioning Magnolia’s. What other twinkle lit rooftop do Harrisonburg residents and JMU students alike find themselves at after a long week with a drink in one hand and a Masa Crusted Shrimp taco in the other?
Certainly, Magnolia’s is the go-to when it comes to novelty. Mango, raspberry, blueberry basil and classic lime come together among other flavors to create a menu adorned with endless combinations. We decided to finish the night the way we started with a cucumber jalapeño margarita.
If you aren’t the biggest fan of tequila’s kick, Magnolia’s provides more of a flavorful route in other capacities. Magnolia’s version of the drink featured medallions of cucumbers and jalapeños inside, which give it more of a tang. Of course, it also includes agave, the restaurant’s middle shelf tequila and house-made sours, making it sweeter than the rest.