How to Do the Margarita Mile on a Dallas Weekend Trip
Here in Houston, we like to paint our Dallas rival city as corporate hub where Wall Street careers go to die and Cowboys fans face perpetual disappointment. There’s a reason they make a "Keep Dallas Boring" shirt.
But we're prepared to eat, er, drink our words. In 2022, after a pandemic hiatus, Visit Dallas relaunched its Margarita Mile, a self-guided food and drink tour of some two dozen margarita stops in and around downtown Dallas. Remember, the city staked its claim as the original home to one particularly sought-after tequila concoction: the frozen margarita.
While we have plenty of marg offerings in Houston, we thought it prudent to head to Dallas for research purposes, of course. Bonus: We found most stops had stellar chip and queso offerings.
How the Margarita Mile Works
It's part cocktail checklist, part marketing ploy, part raffle contest. You can absolutely navigate the Margarita Mile list on your own, but if you make an account on Visit Dallas's site, you can create a virtual passport that allows you to check in at different spots and win prizes.
When you check in at three restaurants, you’re named a “Rita Rookie” and earn a Margarita Mile sticker. At 10 restaurants, you’ll be known as a “Marg MVP” and get a Margarita Mile shirt. Those who are truly ambitious can reach "Rita Rockstar" status after 20 restaurants, and at that point you’ll be entered into a drawing for a two-night stay in Dallas, attraction passes, and more.
Our Favorite Margarita Spots in Dallas
The official Margarita Mile lineup has two dozen stops. Unless you're staying for well over a week or don't mind one massive hangover, may we suggest picking a select few?
Start the Mile off right by going directly to the source of the original frozen margarita. Owner Mariano Martinez opened Mariano's Hacienda, a Dallas staple for the past 50 years, in 1971. His invention, the frozen margarita machine, now resides in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Order a frozen marg or the signature margarita on the rocks, which comes with a very distinctive lime garnish in the shape of a daisy ("margarita" means daisy in Spanish). Food tip: Order the queso con carne dip and guacamole.
Beto & Son
Head over to Trinity Groves, a buzzing dining district with an eclectic range of eateries in converted warehouses, and stop at Mexican restaurant Beto & Son, which has arguably one of the best frozen margaritas we've ever had in our lives (sorry, Mom). Co-owner and chef Julian Rodarte’s liquid nitrogen margarita features the usual ingredients of tequila reposado, lime juice, agave, and orange liqueur mixed in a bowl, but then came a smoking pitcher of -320 degrees Fahrenheit liquid nitrogen, slowly poured and whisked into a silky-smooth sorbet texture. Consider it the margarita that never melts—one that comes topped with housemade passion fruit caviar.
Gloria’s Latin Cuisine
First opened in 1986 as a Salvadoran and Tex-Mex restaurant in Oak Cliff, Gloria’s is now a chain with 23 locations across Texas. Some of the tastiest margaritas on the menu (there's an extensive list) include La Tuna, a classic margarita splashed with orange juice and prickly pear puree, and the smoky La Dueña, made with mezcal, tamarind, and chipotle pineapple syrup. Pair your drinks with some bites like the aguachile, a ceviche-like dish with cucumber, shrimp, octopus, and red chiles. Or share an order of Salvadorian tamales, pulled chicken wrapped in banana leaves.
Las Palmas Tex-Mex
Las Palmas, located in Dallas's Uptown district, was one of my favorite stops for the chili con queso blanco and bacon-wrapped shrimp alone. Pairing hickory-grilled ribs with charro beans and a spicy habanero margarita is also quite the vibe. For serious tequila connoisseurs, Las Palmas has an agave menu with more than 62 types of tequilas and mezcals. If you’re having trouble deciding, the house frozen margarita is still a great go-to, with a distinctive Mexican vanilla flavor that’s topped with a swirl of red sangria.
This trendy Tex-Mex spot in the heart of the Bishop Arts District offers a cheerful embrace of all things Texan. The refreshing Tejas cucumber margarita is best served with brunch on the patio, surrounded by friends after a long night of, well, margarita drinking. Pair your drink with an order of the Tejas tacos: corn tortillas filled with roasted brisket, guacamole, pico de gallo, tomatillo salsa, and cilantro. Still have room for another marg? Try the frozen paloma.
Our Favorite Spots to Eat in Dallas
Margaritas and queso can only get you so far. Luckily, Dallas has great cuisine outside of the Mile, from the ultimate tapas spot to unusual vending machines to Australian fare.
In Trinity Groves, Lexy's focuses on locally sourced ingredients, with a very pink interior and a Champagne vending machine to boot. Switch things up for dinner with some bubbly or pair your brisket-avocado croquettes with a glass of wine. Caramelized brussels sprouts are one of the best things on the menu (yes, really), and while the half-tempura, half-roasted whole red snapper can be ordered for one, the amount is definitely shareable.
Isla & Co.
All-day cafe concept Isla & Co. takes you down under with specialty coffee and brunch dishes inspired by Australian coastal towns. By night, it transforms into a cocktail-driven dinner destination. Aussie owner Dave Orr says, just like Texas, the vibe is friendly and vibrant. Start with an espresso martini (or classic cappuccino) and pork sausage rolls with sweet chili sauce, then continue with something adventurous like the Kangaroo Tucker, skewered kangaroo over herbed tahini, marinated cucumbers, pickled onions, and fried lentils.
Two words: rooftop view. Catbird, located on the 10th floor of the National (inside the Thompson Dallas hotel), is a downtown hot spot for all things glamorous and chic. Art in every corner of the cocktail lounge is a statement itself, including head-turning pieces by acclaimed photographers like David Yarrow and Tyler Shields. Chill inside by the fireplace or hang out on the patio and sip one of Catbird’s signature cocktails like the Catbird or Old Jalisco. Caviar and East Coast oysters, followed by duck carnita tacos and more cocktails make it all the better.
The extensive wine list, cozy ambience, and complex dishes are a testament to Rye’s dedication to the craft. The super seasonal spot in Lower Greenville specializes in tapas, making it perfect for a special occasion or large group. Go for the signature duroc pork belly lollipops and molasses-glazed nopales, and order a dessert for the table to split like the sauerkraut cake (sounds strange, but trust us).
Our Favorite Things to Do in Dallas
Give your liver a break and soak up all the shopping, art, and history Dallas has to offer.
Shop at Flea Style
Texans love their hats, and Flea Style in Deep Ellum has a hat bar to make all your Stetson-style dreams come true. Pick from ribbons, charms, feathers, and fabrics to get the perfect chapeau to match your personality.
Get Arty in Deep Ellum
Hang out at Deep Ellum Art Co., a lively indoor-outdoor hang with a bar, music, and art exhibitions. Meander through the Kettle Art Gallery for affordable pieces by local artists. Tour the Latino Cultural Center or see a show at the Undermain Theatre. For a fun late-night performance, experience the famous Louie Louie’s, a dueling-piano bar where there’s no time for anything but singing along with strangers and laughing hysterically.
Sightsee Like a Champ
The relatively new AT&T Discovery District in downtown is home to an impressive 104-foot-tall outdoor media wall consisting of more than 9,000 square feet of colorful, high-definition displays. It's also close to the famous eyeball sculpture. A short jaunt away, don't forget to check out classics like the Dallas Museum of Art, Klyde Warren Park, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza, and Pioneer Plaza.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in Dallas
Eventually, you do need a place to sleep all that tequila off. Might as well make it a good one.
Kimpton Pittman Hotel
Located in Dallas’s historic Deep Ellum neighborhood, Kimpton Pittman is a romantic juxtaposition of old and new. The hotel is decked out in art and curated vinyl collections, with an acclaimed restaurant, Elm & Good.
Bishop Arts Hotel
Housed in an old church building in the Bishop Arts District, this boutique-style hotel emulates all the cozy comfort of a bed and breakfast, but with a modern interior.
The Adolphus Hotel
For something historic and in the middle of it all, opt for the Adolphus. Since opening in 1912, it's basically become a Dallas icon. A recent restoration combines old-timey energy with straight-up luxury. The hotel’s Rodeo Bar is wildly different from the rest of the place, but serves as a casual touchstone when you start to forget what century you’re in.