A decent margarita is easy to find. But what about one that can transport you straight to Mexico and hit you with an intoxicating ray of sunshine on even the dreariest Cleveland day? Those are a little harder to find. We asked you to name your favorite margarita watering holes, and the answer was a tie between West Side newbie Momocho (1835 Fulton Road, Cleveland, 216-694-2122) and East Side stalwart Lopez Southwestern Food Club (2196 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-932-9000). There was only one thing left to do: a margarita-off.
Momocho: 22 tequilas (Gran Patrón Platinum is $32 a pour), 6 flavors
Lopez: 23 tequilas (Gran Patrón Platinum, $29 for a margarita or $150 for a pitcher), 10 flavors
Tall, skinny glasses encourage tasteful sipping and fit the big-city/secret-haunt theme (mood lighting, religious icons on the walls, bartenders in skinny jeans). Lopez:
Short, stocky tumbler-style glasses call out for an accompanying pitcher — right in line with the festive, family atmosphere (close seating, bright colors, loud chatter). Winner: Momocho
Good things come in threes; give us a guac sampler ($16) and a margarita sampler ($14) and send us home happy. Lopez:
The golden margarita is all you need. Strong and flavorful, it fits the vibrant Lopez mood. Winner: Momocho
The Cadillac margarita (price of tequila plus $2) with Don Julio Reposado. It had the most authentically limey-but-light, sweet-but-sour taste.Lopez:
The flavored flight, at $9 for four margarita samples, is the best deal in town: four 2-ounce pours in a multicolored profusion of liquid and sugar rims. Just try not to get tipsy.Winner: Lopez
The “traditional” with Cuervo Gold is $6.50. A pitcher is $26.Lopez:
A “traditional,” glass-size, is $5.95; the golden is $7.15. Pitchers are $31.75 and $37.75, respectively. Winner: Momocho
Momocho: At press time, the spring/summer lineup had yet to reappear (we hear the cucumber margarita is divine); also, the menu helpfully describes the flavor notes of each tequila.
Lopez: Half-off margarita nights on Tuesdays and Thursdays; plus, Lopez offers Cabo Wabo (for the spring breaker in all of us) and Cazadores, a version we fell in love with at a tequila bar in Columbus.