Traditional lime or modern fruit-infused flavors. On the rocks or frozen. Salted rim or no salt. There's lots of ways to mix them up and now's the perfect time to put our picks to your own test. Although with Cinco de Mayo falling on a Saturday this year, we suggest that you get your own research in before the weekend so you don't have to wait in the long lines that will await margarita and cerveza fans on Saturday.
First up - a selection based not on price, but on accompanying flavor and calorie counts: Cantina 18 (Cameron Village) - The "Skinny Girl Margarita" (full on flavor, easy on the calories) is no budget margarita at $8 a glass, but it sure fits the bill on a Thursday night, winding down from a long week, and bonus: it does it without the guilt. Served with blanco tequila, triple sec, and fresh lime, we suggest ordering a round of these margaritas with the freshly-prepared guacamole and chips. Thanks to Fox 50's Erica Porter for joining in on the research at this margarita spot!
Torero's (various locations) - Nominated by WRAL.com Director of Content Jodi Glusco, you can find Torero's locations sprinkled across the area, from Goldsboro to Chapel Hill (with an outlier in Erie, PA). Stop in for a margarita on your birthday and Torero's will treat you to a complimentary dessert and birthday photo, too.
Jibarra (Historic Depot, Downtown Raleigh) - A "Jibarra Margarita" (Degollado Gold Tequila, fresh citrus, and triple sec, rimmed with sea salt) is just fine and dandy, but go for gold here with any of their premium margaritas ($8-11). The infusion of seasonal fruit, spices and herbs in their more adventurous cocktails make for some very satisfying warm weather treats. Not only a favorite of my own, Jibarra also comes highly recommended by WRAL Out & About Calendar Editor Sarah Adams and by our pal @Erin_Mason.
Dos Taquitos Centro (Downtown Raleigh) - (Or "Dos Taq" as it's often lovingly referred to by Downtowners.) This was our reader-recommended spot that makes the cut. Getting resounding recommendations from @WSWhitt and @Erin_Mason, DT Centro even hosts a weekly "Margarita Run." Every Wednesday at 6 p.m., margarita and running faithfuls meet up for a run through Historic Oakwood and back to Centro. There's a three mile route, a five mile route, and post-run specials including a $5 taco bar, $5 La Flaca Margaritas and $3 Natty Greene's Cerveza. No need to wait for Cinco de Mayo to join in on that fun!
La Cocina (various locations) - With locations from Smithfield to Mebane (including my own neighborhood La Cocina in Garner), this collection of restaurants makes the list because of their killer special: $1.99 margaritas on Monday and Tuesday. Mondays are rough as it is, take it easy on the cheap!
Honorable mentions go out to Urban Food Group's recent addition, "Chow," which came heartily recommended on Twitter by our buddy @41Bartender for the north Raleigh crowd (Creedmoor Road), and to Cantina South (Glenwood South, downtown Raleigh) for their Skinny Margarita Thursday deal - only 100 calories and $4 (what a way to kick off the weekend).