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Sweeten Up Your Tequila: Margaritas in CNY

Sweeten Up Your Tequila: Margaritas in CNY

Central New York is known for a lot of things: chicken riggies, lacrosse, apple orchards — but definitely not tequila. But if you’re looking for a go-to margarita, Syracuse is home to some great, affordable options. LivableCNY took on some down and dirty tequila tasting to help you figure out where to go on your next margarita march.

Frozen margarita at the bar.

All tequila-based margaritas at Papa Gallo are only $5 all day on Thursdays.

Papa Gallo

Of all of the places we tried, Papa Gallo had our favorite atmosphere, with attentive bartenders, an eclectic modern-Mexican feel. The restaurant has a number of good deals. They include $5 margaritas during happy hour, $5 margaritas all day on Mondays and $5 for women all day on Thursdays. Their House Margarita was sweeter but still strong, and preferred by our non-tequila drinkers. But the bartenders said that their most popular drink is the Skinny Margarita — a lighter version of the classic drink made with fresh lime juice and organic agave. If you like tequila, you’ll love this margarita, and the deals don’t hurt either.

Two margaritas, one with a sugar rim and one without, both with tequila.

Alto Cinco offers a Signature Margarita made with premium tequila.

Alto Cinco

This modern-mexican restaurant is a Westcott Street staple. Their slightly pricier Signature Margarita recipe uses premium tequila to create a drink that tickles without the burn. You can get it rimmed with salt or sugar, and the sugar rim was a hit with our non-tequila drinkers. While a little on the pricier side, if you’re looking for one of the best margaritas in Syracuse, go with the Signature. But if you’re tight on cash, Alto Cinco’s house margaritas are only $5 during their weekday happy hour, and still taste great. Plus, they offer flavors like pineapple, cranberry and strawberry if you’re looking to mix things up. 

Margarita with a lot of ice, barely containing tequila and two straws.

Azteca Mexican Grill’s basic margarita costs only $3.50 on Thursday nights.

Azteca Mexican Grill

We thought that the drive to Camillus may be worth the margaritas at Azteca, but we were wrong. The margarita came from a pre-made container, the glass was filled with ice, and we could barely taste the tequila. Azteca also offers flavored frozen margaritas — the bartender told us people like to mix the lime, mango and strawberry flavors — but the atmosphere was dull, so we didn’t stick around to try them. Azteca does, however, host “margarita nights” on Thursdays. The margaritas cost only $3.50 during the special, so if you’re in Camillus, it might be worth the trip. 

Four different flavors of margaritas at the mall containing tequila.

Cantina Laredo offers a variety of flavors of traditional and frozen margaritas during their happy hour.

Cantina Laredo

Although not a local spot, we decided to try Cantina Laredo thanks to its convenient location in Destiny USA and the $3 Casita ‘rita. While the restaurant does offer cheap margaritas during happy hour, be careful about what you order. We weren’t told that the frozen versions had a $2-$3 up charge, and were shocked by our bill. Plus, it took a long time to order, even though the bar wasn’t that busy. However, the margaritas were fairly strong — although not mixed well — and the mango margarita was a favorite across the group. Plus, they offer free chips and salsa to soak up the alcohol. But if you’re looking for a good atmosphere along with your cheap drink, you might want to skip this spot.

Two flavors of margaritas containing tequila at the bar of Margaritaville.

Jimmy Buffet would have enjoyed the traditional margaritas offered at Destiny USA’s hot spot for happy hour.

Margaritaville

We were apprehensive to stop by another chain restaurant in the mall, but with margarita right in the name, we couldn’t pass up this tequila haven. The atmosphere was one of the best, and our bartender was attentive, fun, and more knowledgeable than we expected. Margaritaville offers the “Who’s To Blame Margarita” for only $5 during their weekday happy hour. The drink will have you nice and buzzed without breaking the bank. But if you really want to get one of the best margaritas in Syracuse, ask your bartender about the kiwi margarita — a summer menu drink that was tart, sweet and had just the right amount of tequila — or for their favorite drink on (or off) the menu.

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This site celebrates the people places, and culture that make Central New York one of the most vibrant and livable regions in the country. From Auburn to Utica, from Syracuse, to Ithaca, this is LivableCNY.

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