10 Places To Step Up Your Tequila Game In San Diego
With San Diego’s proximity to Mexico, there’s no excuse for anyone’s tequila knowledge to start at shots and end with frozen margarita mix. Your instinct may be to lick it, suck it, and slam it, but there is a whole world of tequila begging to be sipped.
From añejos to mezcal, here are the best spots to expand your knowledge and your taste buds with our favorite agave-based spirit.
1. Cantina Mayahuel
Located in North Park, this is the go-to spot to learn everything and anything you can about agave. With an ever-changing list of over 200 tequilas and 100 mezcals, the staff here will help you find more than one thing you love.
Before you leave, make sure to get “Lorenzo’d” by trying their own brand, Don Lorenzo Reposado Reserva. Five different tequila expressions from five different agave harvests are expertly blended to create this smooth tequila.
2. La Puerta
With over 100 different tequilas, ranging from small batch distillers to recognizable names, this Gaslamp restaurant has something for everyone. To match their extensive menu, the tequila is listed from the easiest drinking to more dynamic options and comes with a reference of tasting notes and growing region.
If you’re looking for a cocktail, we’re partial to the Bad Medicine: Fortaleza Reposado, Mezcal, ginger syrup, and fresh lemon.
It’s hard to beat great tequila and a breathtaking view, which is why Coasterra is one of our favorite spots. Located on Harbor Island, make your way to their Tequila Lounge and get introduced to one of their 70 agave spirits — bacanora, mezcal, raicilla, sotol, and tequila have all found a way onto their menu. Can’t choose just one? Indulge yourself in a tasting flight of three 1 oz. pours.
4. Don Chido
There’s a reason Don Chido refers to its drink list as the “Tequila Bible.” With over 100 different types of tequila and a dozen mezcals, you can’t go wrong here. This modern Mexican eatery in Gaslamp has everything from infused tequilas to regional mezcals.
If you like it spicy, go for the Adelita: House infused pepper tequila, strawberry, mango, rosemary, lime, and chile mango rum.
5. El Agave Tequileria
If you’re going to drink Tequila, why not do it in the Tequila Museum in historic Old Town? With over 2,000 top-quality, hard-to-find tequilas, El Agave Tequileria will satisfy any tequila craving you could have. With so many options, we recommend getting a tequila flight. You won’t regret it — at least not until the morning.
6. Javier’s Cantina
Javier’s presents a rich heritage of elevated Mexican cuisine in a friendly, captivating ambiance. Enjoy hand-shaken margaritas, rare tequilas, craft cocktails and a vast selection of beer and fine wines. Dine in the main dining room, al fresco patios, one of the intimate private dining rooms, or at the exquisite bar surrounded by one of the West Coast’s largest selection of the world’s finest tequilas.
7. Tamarindo Del Mar
With a drink list cultivated by Mark Broadfoot, who previously developed Galaxy Taco’s drink menu, Tamarindo Del Mar is serving up delicious food and drinks to match. While their offerings may not be as extensive, the tequilas and mezcals chosen have been carefully selected to fit any taste preference.
Our favorite sipper is Mezcalero #16, but if you’re in the mood for a cocktail, the Oaxacan Old Fashioned is an obvious choice.
Another small collection, with no more than 40 thoughtfully curated agave-based spirits, Puesto offers a top notch selection of tequila, mezcal, bacanora, raicilla, and sotol. Our favorite is Los Nahuales Añejo, but if we’re craving a cocktail, our choice is the El Mezcalito, which is Vida mezcal, guanabana, tamarindo, lime leaf, and charred orange.
9. Death by Tequila – Encinitas
Death by Tequila brings you a menu of flavorful, shareable dishes inspired by the globally-influenced cuisine of Baja! Let DxT Encinitas make your day better by pouring you their “magic” water all weekend long. Despite the name, their vibe is all about passion, community and good times.
10. La Mezcalera
We couldn’t make a list about Tequila and not send you south of the border. This Tijuana bar is devoted to Oaxacan mezcal and has attracted attention north of the border after making an appearance in Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
With a funky decor like cheese graters as lights and an authentic menu (think crickets as snacks), La Mezcalera is a great excuse to use your passport. We recommend starting out with one of their flights.
Bonus — Tahona Bar!
Tahona is not technically a tequila bar, but it’s the best mezcal bar you’ll find in San Diego or just about anywhere! So, we can’t just leave without adding them to our list.
Their mission at Tahona is to educate and give reverence to the complexity and beauty of the Mexican culture through its most iconic beverage, mezcal, and to become an epicenter of mezcal culture in San Diego. The menu features an amazing selection of tacos, appetizers, entrees, salads & desserts. They also feature mezcal pairings, delicious cocktails and weekly specials.
See you there, San Diego!