10 great places for margaritas and more

Cinco de Mayo will be more somber this year, in light of the swine flu epidemic and shutdowns of public places across Mexico. But celebrations for the Mexican holiday are planned in many places elsewhere. Kate Krader, editor of FOOD & WINE Cocktails 2009 (on sale today), and Jim Meehan, deputy editor and master mixologist, share the best places to have a margarita.

Tommy'sSan Francisco For the best margaritas in the country, Krader and Meehan suggest a stop at this West Coast bar, where bartender Julio Bermejo makes a classic concoction with tequila, lime juice and agave nectar. "The bar is nothing fancy, but their tequila selection is incredible," Krader says. "Not surprising, since Bermejo is one of the country's most respected experts on the subject." Bermejo also guides legendary trips down to Jalisco, Mexico, to tour the home of Tequila. tommystequila.com, 415-387-4747

Jimmy's BarAspen, Colo. "Jimmy's, hidden in a fancy mall in the middle of glitzy Aspen, has a huge selection of tequilas and agave spirits (105 in all), and they make terrific margaritas." Our experts suggest either order the Jimmy's margarita made with Herradura Anejo, Grand Marnier and lime juice or adding a splash of cranberry and mescal to add smokiness to the drink. jimmysaspen.com, 970-925-6020

OyamelWashington, D.C. You've seen him on Top Chef, so it's time to turn the tables and judge the gastronomical genius of Jose Andrés. His D.C. eatery serves up a traditional margarita, but "it comes with an Andrés avant-garde twist: a topping of salt-air foam," Krader says. "If you are hungry, try some of Andrés' Mexican street food, including his handmade corn tortillas stuffed with baby-pig confit, tender braised oxtail or, for the adventurous, sautéed grasshoppers on a bed of guacamole." oyamel.com, 202-628-1005

RiveraLos Angeles "In the late 1980s, John Sedlar put haute Mexican food on the map in the United States," Meehan says. "Now he's back with a new Los Angeles pan-Latin restaurant, where they have a mix of premium and seasonal tequilas on tap." For some serious royal treatment, take a turn in the bronze and leather chairs dedicated to tequila tastings — the chairs have special holders for tequila flights. riverarestaurant.com, 213-749-1460

Petrossian Bar at the BellagioLas Vegas Sin City is rarely referred to has the home to anything purist, but Vegas bartenders know their stuff. "The best margaritas around the country are often found at purist cocktail establishments," Krader says. "Petrossian Bar, the swank cocktail bar at Las Vegas' Bellagio, is one of those establishments." Meehan suggests doing like the cocktail experts do and ordering the classic margarita at this spot. bellagio.com, 888-987-6667

Nacional 27Chicago "Drink master Adam Seger makes super-fresh cocktails (both frozen and otherwise) at this Latin-inspired salsa club and restaurant," Krader says. "Like all the drinks here, the margaritas are hyper-seasonal and fresh-ingredient driven." The seemingly endless menu here can confuse a novice, so Meehan suggests trying one of their regular margaritas, like the breakfast margarita or luxe margarita, or picking a seasonal creation such as smoky passion-fruit margarita. n27chicago.com, 312-664-2727

MayahuelNew York City "Star mixologist Philip Ward just opened his mezcal and tequila bar a few weeks ago," Krader says. "Since he's considered one of the most creative drink makers in the country, everyone is looking for him to set a new standard for margaritas." The bar has been in a soft opening for the past few weeks; the official opening takes place tonight. mayahuelny.com

Tequila'sPhiladelphia With a name like Tequila's, there's no doubt the duo behind this elegant hacienda-style restaurant knows their stuff. "Restaurateur David Suro, who grew up near agave fields in the Mexican state of Jalisco, serves drinks by mixologist Junior Merino, making this hot spot a staple for 25 years," Meehan says. There's no shortage of tequilas behind the bar here which serves up around 100 variations. tequilasphilly.com, 215-546-0181

Lonesome DoveFort Worth You know what they say: "Don't mess with Texas." Apparently, that applies to their margaritas as well. Chef Tim Love evokes American West with his inventive menu of big food like Texas elk sausage and wild boar ribs," Krader says. "The rustic Fort Worth favorite, located in the historic Stockyards District, is also creative with their signature cocktails such as the jalapeño cucumber margarita." lonesomedovebistro.com, 817-740-8810

Mercadito CantinaNew York City "This excellent East Village Mexican restaurant has become a mini empire with three New York locations and one launching in Chicago," Meehan says. "The exceptional margaritas range from traditional to Tres Citricos, made with orange and habanero chile." Or try a mentirosa, featuring "tric-quila," a sake-based blend that imparts a crisper taste and smoother finish than regular tequila. mercaditorestaurants.com, 212-388-1750