Traditionally, margaritas are just three simple ingredients: some fresh squeezed lime juice, Cointreau and tequila. These days you’ll find all kinds of creative twists — Mezcal for a smoky flavor, jalapeno-infused tequila for a spicy kick. Here in the islands, look for li hing mui rims as well as freshly squeezed local juices like lilikoi, dragon fruit or calamansi. Whether you’re into it on the rocks or fruity and frozen, here’s our list of places serving up some of the best margaritas in the islands. We hope you try a few and let us know your favorites!
But wait, there’s more. We’re here to help demystify some of the unusual words you might see on menus like furikake, laulau and lilikoi — and explain which meat is being served and why. And possibly most importantly of all, provide the fun facts on the origins of local dishes.
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Best Margaritas on Oahu
Cholo’s has been a popular tourist destination on the North Shore of Oahu for almost 20 years. This Mexican restaurant is blending up specialty margaritas all day, every day. The drinks here are worth the stop in Haleiwa. If you’re in the mood for something dangerously delicious, go for The Tropical-Rita — blended with lilikoi, mango and pineapple. It’s a refreshing adult beverage served in a big ol’ glass, and it’s so tropical and tasty, you won’t even notice the alcohol until it hits. Open daily from 10:30am to 9pm.
This is one of Peter Merriman’s joints with a casual vibe and live music daily. Monkeypod is bringing local ingredients to Ko Olina. There’s plenty of outdoor seating and a beautiful, large bar area. The menu features kiawe wood-fired pizzas, locally sourced meats and tasty vegetarian options. The drinks are some of the best on the island, and the margaritas are no exception to that rule. There’s a full bar, so you can have it however you’d like it, but their twist When Doves Cry features mezcal, lime and grapefruit. One here, please! Open daily from 11am to 10pm.
The ocean view here might outshine the food, but just barely. If you are looking for experience as much as a delicious margarita, take a seat here, and order the Hula-Rita. Hula Grill’s signature house Hula-Rita features Kapena li hing mui infused tequila, fresh sweet & sour, and lilikoi juice; it’s the perfect twist to a traditional margarita. Open daily 7am to 10:30pm.
Best Margaritas on Maui
The Birdgcage Bar is located in the upscale Hotel Wailea, this recently spiffed-up lobby bar, is fast becoming a favorite for locals and visitors. Inspired by the nightly visitation of resident lovebirds, acclaimed Philpotts Interiors has transformed the space into a veritable avian haven. The elevated design is matched by the new culinary team, which includes, an excellent mixologist. Open daily from 4:30pm to 10pm.
This Mexican beach house restaurant has all the important ingredients for a great time. Oceanfront seats, a great margarita menu and Mexican cuisine. Frida’s in Lahaina is a great place to enjoy something on the rocks with salt on the rim while you’re on Maui. This family-owned restaurant has epic views, cold drinks and colorful decor. What more do you need? Open daily from 11am to 9pm.
Established in 2002, Milagros has been serving up what’s been voted Maui’s best margarita. The drink list is hefty and the margarita section will make you salivate. Milagro’s cares about the environment so you’ll find paper and compostable to go containers here. Sip on your margarita and feel good while you do it. Start with The El Jefe and finish with The Coco-rita! Open daily 11am to 9pm.
Best Margaritas on Kauai
This spot is calling dibs for the westernmost sports bar in the U.S.A. Here you’ll find no shortage of the popular tiki cocktails, but how about one of the most classic adult beverages around? The margarita, of course. They really do hit the spot as a cool and refreshing drink that packs a bit of punch. Kalapaki Joe’s is a great place to kick back, watch a game and guzzle down a tasty Mango Margarita. If you’re around on a Tuesday, they’ve got $1 steak tacos to help you sop up all the liquid goodness. Enjoy! The Lihue location is open daily 11am to 9pm. Poipu location is open Monday to Friday 2pm to 9pm and Saturday and Sunday 7am to 9pm.
With four locations on Kauai and one on Oahu, there’s plenty of chances for you to sit down and enjoy something refreshing from Paco’s Taco’s. They’ve got some killer specials like Monday Margaritas and Taco Tuesday as well as a daily happy hour. The food menu is elaborate and the margarita menu will keep you busy for a while. We’ve got our eyes on the Make Me Crazy Margarita, because that sounds like the good kind of trouble. Open Thursday through Sunday 11am to 9pm. Closed Saturday.
Best Margaritas on the Big Island of Hawaii
If you find yourself in upcountry Big Island, we recommend you go looking for Big Island Brewhaus. Their menu boasts all locally-sourced ingredients and their craft beers are arguably some of the best in the islands, as are their margaritas. Grab-and-go, freshly made cocktails — how much better does it get?! Their margaritas are like 3-in-1 and we like that kind of generosity! Big Island Brewhaus is open daily 11am to 9pm.
You really can’t beat the location here, it’s in downtown Kona and it’s right on the water. The service is top notch and the drinks happen to be really good as well. Liquid happy hour is daily from 4pm to 5pm, but be sure to stay for sunset. There are few better places to watch the sun go down over that Pacific horizon with a delicious and refreshing margarita in hand. Huggo’s is open daily 5pm to 9pm.
Brothers Pancho and Lefty started their Kona venture in 1986, opening a colorful, casual, family-owned Mexican restaurant with great margaritas. If you like them on the rocks, go for their Happy Margarita; if blended is your thing, try anything from traditional to their Chamoy Margarita — made with mango and the Mexican hot sauce Chamoy for a sweet and fiery kick. Pair with any number of their Mexican dishes or happy hour bites. Outside dining overlooks Ali’i Drive. Pancho and Lefty’s is open daily 3pm to 9pm.
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