Photo credit – Tim King
Settled in 1769, Old Town was California’s first settlement with only a mission and a fort. Over the years it has been transformed into a bustling tourist destination while preserving some of the local history and historic structures. Boasting more than 12-acres that includes lush gardens, haunted buildings, mariachi bands and living history programs, Old Town has it all including a variety of the best authentic Mexican cuisine in the City! Start or end you visit with a margarita – each restaurant has a spin on the classic as well as creative versions that will leave you thirsty for more!
Experience the historic heart of San Diego for yourself while sampling some of the best margaritas in Old Town with a San Diego Tour. The Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones Tour combines it all on a 2.5-hour walking tour with the best guides in the City! They’ll end your tour at Fiesta De Reyes with recommendations on which shops are the best to find authentic souvenirs and if you’re still thirsty, where to grab another great margarita!
Photo credit – Tim King
The enchanting festive décor at this can’t-miss location includes an open-air concept, colorful dishes, mariachi bands and enormous margaritas. Started over 25 years ago, they have over 100 tequilas to choose from that can be made into a “large” margarita served on the rocks or frozen if requested. Our favorite is the El Patron “The Boss” margarita served on the rocks. If you need something to fill you up while enjoying your margarita, order the Coyote Tres Taco Platter – our favorite is the carnitas. Don’t miss a chance to stop by their “Tortilla Lady” who cooks up fresh tortillas all day to enjoy with your tasty meal.
Photo credit – El Agave
For traditional flavors yet an upscale atmosphere, head to this second-floor hacienda-style restaurant serving up some fabulous cuisine using authentic techniques. They have what they call a Tequila Museum where you can try over 2,000 different tequilas in the perfect setting to experience the true flavors of Mexico. We recommend trying their Classic Margarita with a tequila of your choice (their bartenders will be happy to help you with your selection).
Photo credit – The Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant
For a fine dining experience, check out the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s restaurant in the heart of Old Town. The building, originally constructed as an adobe home in 1827 has been renovated over the years, but architects and designers have restored it to its original glory. The restaurant features a formal setting complete with 1870s décor in their Grand Sala dining room or a more casual experience in the heated Orchard Terrace where you will dine surrounded by fruit and olive trees, herbs, grape vines & wisteria. We recommend enjoying a Gigglemug Margarita next to the fire pits while you share some apps (all their food is a farm to table approach to dining) – our favorites are the Ahi Lettuce Cups and Esquites, which is their version of Mexican street corn.
Serving authentic Mexican cuisine for more than 40 years, this is a delicious San Diego staple. All their food is hand-made each day including their corn and flour tortillas which are mixed and pressed by hand – check out their “tortilla window” where you can watch them being made! We recommend their Carnitas Plate to go along with their signature drink, the Pico Pico Margarita – tequila blanco infused with serrano chiles, lime juice and agave nectar or you can choose from over 115 varieties of tequila to mix into a margarita of your choice.
Photo credit – Barra Barra Saloon
You’ll feel a little like you’ve stepped back in time at this saloon with their furnishings, décor, server’s clothing and menu. Their cozy ambiance is akin to what you might imagine a ranch home to be like in the mid-1800s. This spot has indoor dining as well as a larger outdoor patio with fire pits situated next to the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and the entrance to Fiesta De Reyes. Their menu offers traditional Mexican cuisine and ingredients and what they claim is the best margarita concoction in old town for just $7! They can get very busy, especially on weekends so we recommend making a reservation – if you didn’t, just leave your number and they’ll send you a text when your table is ready so you can continue to explore Old Town while you wait.
Photo credit – Casa De Reyes
You’ll find this bustling spot located in the center of Fiesta De Reyes, next to the live entertainment stage (offering free nightly performances). It’s got an open-air vibe and is a great place for families with plenty of stuff happening around to keep the kiddos entertained. The food portions are huge as well as the margaritas with an option for a large punch-bowl sized glass to share (or a pitcher for the table). If you like something a little on the sweet side, try their La Riviera Maya tequila cocktail, made with coconut, strawberry and pineapple juice that will leave you feeling like you’ve been transported to a Mexican beach.
Photo credit – Casa Guadalajara
With an ambiance reminiscent of a hacienda tucked away in a Mexican village, the atmosphere with folk art décor, a romantic indoor dining room and patio complete with fountains will not disappoint! Known for their seafood dishes, house-made tamales and chimichangas, enjoy a margarita (our favorites are the La Natural and Cadillac) while listening to the mariachi band as they stroll around the restaurant, if you’re lucky you’ll get a serenade!
Offering the best happy hour in Old Town, this corner joint is a casual family restaurant serving up great food at an incredible price. They serve authentic family-style Mexican cuisine in large portions that will leave you craving the leftovers you take home the next day. Our favorite margarita is the Cadillac topped with Grand Marnier. They serve happy hour Monday – Friday from 2:30 – 6:30 pm and breakfast all day, 7 days a week (don’t worry margaritas are served from open to close)!
Photo credit – Tim King
Situated atop the beautiful Hacienda Hotel, this stunning location has patio seating that overlooks Old Town to Mission Bay and beyond. Their patio boasts heaters and fire pits and they serve some of the best margaritas in Old Town. Pick your favorite (we recommend a margarita made with their special edition Herradura Reposado aged in oak barrels for 11-months) to enjoy while dining on house-made tortillas chips and fresh guacamole as you listen to their nightly selection of live music.
We know you want to check out these wonderful places yourself – grab some friends and book an Old Town tour with So Diego Tours to sample some of the best margaritas and check out our favorite things to do in Old Town!