Chances are anyone outside the 787 would look at you funny if you offered them a Mexican martini. Here in Austin, though, the term is ubiquitous. There’s no need for it to even be on a menu. Virtually every bartender in the city knows how to shake up a mixer full of the goodness. In the most traditional sense, a Mexican martini is simply a margarita with olive juice. However, just as everyone has their own little twist on the margarita, you’d be hard-pressed to find a matching pair of Mexican martinis in Austin.
Since summer is just weeks away on the calendar (and has been here for more than a month, weather-wise), I thought now would be a grand time to find the best Mexican martini this city has to offer. In order to accurately rate each drink, I enlisted the help of two friends whose taste buds are fine-tuned to the ‘tini. We conducted some intense scientific testing of 15 different concoctions, and here’s what we found:
Z’Tejas, W. 6th St.
This Mexican martini had everything one looks for: it came in a shaker that poured about two and a half drinks; it was reasonably priced; and it was neither too sweet nor too tart. This drink achieved the trifecta of tequila, lime and olive juice. No one flavor was more apparent than the other. And the presentation? It was just what we were looking for: class with the martini glass and olives, yet subtly casual with the salted rim and lime wedge. At first, we were a little weary because it was only the second location our journey. However, in hindsight, we were lucky to have tasted the best Mexican martini in the beginning because we were on a mission after that to find one better. But it was all to no avail. We ordered and Z’Tejas delivered.
Trudy’s Texas Star, W. 30th St.
Trudy’s is probably the restaurant most synonymous with the Mexican martini here in Austin, and they have a penchant for mixing them up strong. The restaurant has a strict two-tini rule, which has led some to the dangerous game of Trudy’s-hopping. The Mexican martini service we received here was truly unbeatable. The waiter asked us whether we wanted it sweet or tart and which type of tequila we preferred. Trudy’s definitely delivers in the quantity department, as well. The drink came in a massive shaker that easily poured three and a half delicious drinks into a salt-rimmed and olive-clad martini glass. Despite the robust options and hearty size of the drinks at Trudy’s, Z’Tejas had a perfectly mixed Mexican martini right off the menu without the need to hand pick the ingredients.
The Mexican martini from Gloria’s is absolutely delicious. The presentation was spot-on with a big martini glass, a thick layer of chunky salt on the rim, ample olives and a juicy lime wedge. It had a strong dose of olive juice, which was nice because it’s always disappointing to order a Mexican martini that’s so limey it may as well be a margarita. However, at Gloria’s, it’s a one-drink deal. You get one martini glass, albeit large, and that’s it. Like many Austinites, I’m keen on getting an ice cold shaker full of ‘tini. All-in-all, Gloria’s has a kickin’ Mexican martini, but it can’t quite break through the upper echelon that exists in Austin.
There are far more than three delicious Mexican martinis in this city, which is why I feel it necessary to mention other noteworthy establishments at which we sampled. El Chile Cafe y Cantina, 219 West and Matt’s Famous El Rancho all had fantastic Mexican martinis that scored high marks on taste, presentation, price and quantity.
My quest for the best Mexican martini in Austin was so much fun and SO satisfying! I’m sure there are many, many more ‘tinis out there that deserve accolades, but I was on deadline, so 15 was my quota. Please let me know if you think I’m missing one!