Same drink, different takes 

12. Take a margarita tour of the city

With summer fast approaching, not only does the weather change but our cocktail cravings change with it. Gone are the days of hot apple cider and whiskey, it's time to bring on the frosty cold drinks of summer.

We're lucky enough to live in a city where pretty much any cocktail craving you have can be satiated by the plethora of bars and cocktail lounges we have available. Still, the one drink synonymous in my mind with summer is the margarita. I'm no Jimmy Buffet, but I will be taking many trips to Margaritaville this summer and went out on a mission to find out what our fair city had to offer.

click to enlarge The house margarita at Salena's in Village Gate. - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • The house margarita at Salena's in Village Gate.

Please keep in mind, to fit print space — and save my liver — my scope kept to the city limits. If you have a favorite place that makes a killer 'rita, leave it in the comments at Now on to the bigger questions in life: Salt or no salt? Up or on the rocks?

When you want to find a place that has great margaritas in the city, everyone will tell you to visit Salena's (302 N. Goodman Street, in Village Gate). Salena's has an impressive selection of tequila to choose from and you can have any of those made into the margarita of your choice. The house margarita ($7) is a solid choice, and made from a secret recipe. However, if you want to make things interesting, I would go with the Cadillac ($8), made with Grand Marnier. That hint of orange from the Grand Marnier really makes a tasty difference. Salena's also offers margaritas made with fresh fruit purees. The Blood Orange is not too sweet and definitely summer-worthy. My guilty pleasure of the night? The Coronarita ($7), half a pint glass of the house frozen margarita with a 7-ounce Coronita flipped upside down in the middle of it. In my opinion, Corona is only good when it's really cold with a lime and this cocktail achieves just that.

click to enlarge Dorado on Park Avenue makes fresh fruit margaritas, including a Strawberry Margarita. - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • Dorado on Park Avenue makes fresh fruit margaritas, including a Strawberry Margarita.

This was my first trip to Dorado (690 Park Avenue) for margaritas and it will not be my last. The Coconut Margarita ($9) is made with coconut tequila, coconut cream, triple sec and lime and it tastes like a dangerously delicious combination of a piña colada and a margarita ... I had two, I couldn't help myself. Dorado also offers a fresh fruit margarita ($8), this time made with a strawberry compote. The star of the show in terms of drinkability and tastiness, however, was the El Dorado ($11). Made with Patron Silver, Patron Citronage, Guava, Cava and lime, it had a really interesting flavor profile. The cava (a Spanish sparkling wine) made it light and refreshing and the guava gave it just enough sweetness. Dorado also has a house margarita ($7) and Cadillac ($10), as well an extensive cocktail menu in case you're not a tequila fan.

Do you have $12 burning a hole in your pocket and a need to play fast and loose with your liver? If so, Monte Alban Mexican Grill (845 E. Ridge Road, and locations in Webster and Penfield) has a 27-ounce house margarita. The margarita also comes in a normal 12 ounce size ($5.99), but why stop there? For those trying to squeeze into their bathing suit from last year, they do offer a Skinny margarita ($8.99) made with tequila of your choice, fresh-squeezed orange and lime juice, and blue agave nectar. The Marga-Rona ($10.99) is made with 16 ounces of Monte Alban's house margarita (not frozen) with the Coronita flipped upside down in the middle. My new philosophy for this summer? If there isn't a beer flipped upside down in my cocktail, I'm not interested. If tequila isn't your thing, Monte Alban has an assortment of beer cocktails, mojitos, and mixed drinks to choose from.

click to enlarge At Dorado, on Park Ave. - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • At Dorado, on Park Ave.
click to enlarge Also worth a sip: the margarita at Lux Lounge on South Avenue. - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • Also worth a sip: the margarita at Lux Lounge on South Avenue.

Tucked in the corner of the plaza across from South Town on Jefferson Road, you will find Mariachi Mexican Grill (400 West Jefferson Road). At first menu glance, it looked as if the margaritas only came in jumbo ($10.25) and monster ($14) sizes. After having a pep talk about what was about to happen, I noticed that they do indeed come in small ($5) and medium ($8.50) sizes. Mariachi has a solid selection of tequilas to choose from, in fact the first thing you see on the menu is "Tequila Shots!" written across the top. Mariachi knows how to party. It also offers a frozen strawberry margarita which you can get by the glass ($5.25 for 10 ounces) or pitcher ($18).

Definitely worth checking out:

Keven Atoms at Lux Lounge (666 South Avenue) makes a killer margarita. You can usually find Keven there on Thursdays for happy hour and Friday nights.

Mex Bar and Restaurant (295 Alexander Street) has been a great Rochester stand-by to enjoy a frozen or on-the-rocks margarita, sit on the patio and people-watch.

Maria's Mexican Restaurant in Webster (75 W. Main Street) has a house-made, secret recipe that is great and worth the trip out to the suburbs.

In This Guide...

  • Summer Guide 2014

    The Rochester area comes alive during the summer. To help get you ready, we put together a list of 100 ways to live life during the summer months.

  • 100 Reasons to Celebrate Life

    Things to do and see in Rochester all Summer long
    Eat, drink, bike, run, visit, camp, and enjoy the season!

  • Hot summer, cool treats

    5. Learn the differences between frozen desserts
    Winters in Rochester may leave us shivering (especially this year), but when summers roll around, it really is beautiful here. And the warmer temps may just put you in the mood to cool off again with a frozen treat.

  • CITY's guide to summer festivals

    20. It's festival season!
      For more details, see CITY's 2014 Festival Preview Guide.

  • Look to one of these summer concert series

    27. Take in some live music
    Looking for some live music this summer? Listed here are concert series that only come about during the summer months.

  • Midsummer Night's Shakespeare

    33. Spend some time at the theater
    Joseph Papp started it all in 1954: the first big-city, outdoor Shakespeare performances of note. The New York Shakespeare Festival grew into an essential component of a Manhattan summer and an entertainment empire in its own right, throwing off everything from CBS-TV productions of Shakespeare in the early 70's to hit Broadway musicals like "A Chorus Line" and "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."

  • Summer movie preview

    40. Catch one of the season's flicks
    Summer movie season is notorious for being a time when filmgoers are asked to turn off their brains, grab a giant tub of popcorn, and sacrifice a few precious hours spent outside in the sunlight, just so we can watch Hollywood's latest round of superhero movies, sequels and remakes. But this year, the warm weather has been an especially long time coming.

  • Ten things you might not know about Seabreeze

    54. Dig into Seabreeze
    When Seabreeze Amusement Park (4600 Culver Road, opened to the public on August 5, 1879, as the last stop on the steam railroad, its main draws were picnic groves on the lakefront. Its picturesque landscape made the location popular.

  • Get outta dodge

    62. Road trip to a regional art gallery
    With the onset of summer, the roads and routes of New York State aren't as treacherous, and the thought of making the trip to some of our more outer-regional art houses is bearable. Though CITY will provide our normal coverage of Rochester's art institutions throughout the summer, here we take a closer look at some regional spots housing some pretty remarkable art jewels and events, from big household-name artists to regional and international contemporary masters, as well as promising student work from throughout the region.

  • Ports of Call

    84. Explore a canalside town
    As you probably remember from building sugar-cube packet boats in third grade, the Erie Canal was an immensely important waterway that helped to define New York State during the 19th and 20th centuries. While the boats and barges that once used the canal as a literal artery of commerce are mostly gone — although boaters can still use the canal system — the port towns that popped up along the waterway remain.

  • Ideas to keep the kids entertained this summer

    96. Have kids? Give them something to do
    During our precious summer months, Rochester offers a plethora of rich activities for children of all ages. Be it along the various waterfronts, or in the city itself, amusements abound.


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