DAYTON EATS: Celebrate zesty margaritas with this list of spots worth visiting

February doesn’t have to be cold and bleak.

Attitude is everything, and I like to think that’s why National Margarita Day falls at the beginning of the year.

It’s a celebration for a drink that has moxie, spunk, stamina and fearless fortitude. This year it will take place on Feb. 22, which falls at the beginning of National Margarita Week, Feb. 21-26, for those who can’t limit the celebration to merely a day.

This classic cocktail made with tequila, triple sec and lime juice, or some variation thereof, was thought to be born sometime in the late 1930s in Mexico.

Regardless of when it was brought into being there’s no arguing that the world became a whole lot more fun and celebratory.

A really good margarita is the perfect foil to marvelous Mexican food. It’s got as much heat and zesty playful flavor as the dishes it tends to accompany, playing off of each other in a flavorful symphony of one of the most perfect food pairings that ever was and ever could be.

Here is a look at some of the fantastic spots to enjoy the best heat and spice and boozy sweet limey tequila drinks that our fair city has to offer all while satisfying your burrito, taco and quesadilla urges.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Agave & Rye

2. N. Market St., Troy


7125 Fountain View Dr., Liberty Twp.

Order up: Birria tacos made with slow-braised beef and guajillo chiles, Oaxaca cheese, cilantro, onion and dipping consommé (3 for $16.75). Or get some of their creative double-shelled (crunchy corn and soft flour) “Epic Tacos” like The Crown Jewel ($13.50) stuffed with butter and garlic lobster, shiitake mushrooms, mac ‘n cheese, truffle oil and shavings and shaved green onions; The Happy Meal ($7.95) made with seasoned ground beef, French fries, sweet pickles, Comeback sauce, ketchup, aged white cheddar, queso cushion, crispy puffy and soft flour shells; and the spicy kitty ($11.50) made with flaming hot coconut Cheetos, shrimp, sticky rice, agave BBQ, mango habanero pureé, pineapple salsa and cilantro.

Top it off: Get a prickly pear margarita made with house silver tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice, sugar and secrets ($14 for an OG Margarita and $1.50 for flavors added including peach, strawberry, passion fruit, prickly pear, raspberry, blackberry, mango and watermelon).


298 N. Main St., Centerville


Order up!: The carne asada ($16.99) at Chiapas is particularly good, but so is everything else I’ve tried over the years on their expansive menu. I love their pozole soup ($11.99) and their parrillada for two ($30) is a great post Valentine’s Day date out with grilled steak, chicken, pork chorizo and shrimp cooked with onions and mushrooms and served with rice, beans and guac. There’s plenty more to consider including enchiladas, torta sandwiches, burritos, tacos, salads and more.

Top it off: Grab a jalapeno margarita ($7.99 for 16 oz. or $9.99 for a 24 oz.) if you want to really feel the heat or go for a Coronarita ($11.99) that pairs a Chiapas house margarita with a lovely 7 oz. Corona to wash it down.

Credit: Greg Lynch

Credit: Greg Lynch


10445 Innovation Drive at Austin Landing in Miami Twp.


Order up!: The Tex-Mex food is decent, but the quirky, colorful decor, fresh cocktails and awesome patio to take advantage of once the weather warms up, make it worth the trip. The Austin, Texas-based chain has been expanding across the county. When in doubt order up some Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom enchiladas; you can’t go wrong with chicken and cheese and it’s fun to say.

Top it off: The food is reasonably priced, but they’ll get you on the drinks starting with the Perfect Margarita made with fresh lime juice.

Credit: Condado Tacos

Credit: Condado Tacos

Condado Tacos

4482 Glengarry Dr., Beavercreek


Order up!: My favorite menu item by far at Condado are the Skywalker nachos ($11) with rice, black beans, queso blanco, roasted chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, pickled jalapeños, corn salsa, and salsa roja. The toppings are plentiful and it’s enough to make a meal for one or a sharable for two. The Fire-Roasted Street Bowl is a loaded roasted chicken packed bowl, topped with fire roasted Mexican street corn, rice, black beans, cilantro-lime aioli, cotija cheese, chopped cilantro, Tajín, and a lime wedge ($10.50) which makes another good option.

Top it off: Go for a margarita flight of three or go with the classic reposado tequila, orange liqueur, citrus, and agave.

El Meson

903 E Dixie Dr., Dayton


Order up!: When it comes to restaurants that hit the mark with consistently delicious food, exemplary customer service and a setting that strikes the right tone for the meal, El Meson is truly a local dining destination — a small generational Hispanic family business — that continues to execute on taste and flavor almost five decades after opening its doors. Go with tapas for the table and make it an adventure with friends. You can’t go wrong with empanadillas (five for $9, 10 for $14) manchego cheese puffs, some queso fundido, coconut shrimp ($14) and calamari ($14) to start with and see where the night takes you.

Top it off: This is without question the spot with the best indoor patio in all of Dayton and El Meson always knows how to bring the party with flavor and flair. It’s a fantastic option to zero in on for margarita celebrations offering pitchers to share with friends. The Meson Margarita ($10 for a glass, $34 for a pitcher) is made with 1800 Reposado, orange curacao, fresh lime juice and simple syrup.

El Toro

2420 N. Fairfield Rd., Beavercreek


4402 Walnut St., Beavercreek


1375 N. Fairfield Road, Beavercreek


4421 Ohio 725, Bellbrook


894 S. Main St., Centerville


2915 Harshman Road, Dayton


6770 Miller Lane, Dayton


9190 N. Main St., Englewood


8321 Old Troy Pike, Huber Heights


2335 Miamisburg Centerville Road, Miamisburg


710 Gardner Road, Springboro


2100 S. Limestone St., Springfield


1781 N. Bechtle Ave., Springfield


794 Northwoods Blvd., Vandalia(


Order up!: El Toro continues to rank at the top of the list with voters in the Best of Dayton polls. With a full menu to choose from and a massive number of locations that are nearly as plentiful as the dishes that are offered, there’s never an El Toro too far away from home. Consider trying the El Toro Molcajete featuring tender slices of steak, chicken, chorizo and shrimp grilled with green onions and Nopales (cactus). Drizzled with green sauce and covered with melted cheese ($22.95). Served in a stone grinding bowl called a molcajete, it is accompanied with tortillas and charro beans.

Top it off: Go with a margarita Texana made with 1800 tequila and Grand Marnier (12 oz. $8.95 or 20 oz. $10.95).

Elsa’s Mexican Restaurants and Sports Bars

Elsa’s Kettering Sports Grill - 1216 E. Stroop Rd., Dayton, Ohio(


Elsa’s East- 3618 Linden Ave., Dayton


Elsa’s South - 6318 Far Hills Ave., Dayton


Elsa’s on the Border - 1227 Wilmington Ave., Dayton


Elsa’s Corner Cantina - 6204 Wilmington Pike, Dayton


Elsa’s Boro Cantina - 774 N. Main St., Springboro




Order up! / Top it off: Two words — Bad Juan. An aptly named margarita that becomes exponentially badder with each one ordered. The restaurant’s famous margarita is the one menu item for me that makes it worth the trip. For some margarita connoisseurs this concoction is a blasphemous insult to every good margarita out there. I’m personally a fan, but absolutely get why it may not be for everyone. Elsa’s food’s fine, but this is a mean cocktail that will make those enchiladas or whatever you decide to order taste that much better which is why you want to order it up and top off the meal to it at least twice.

Guerra’s Krazy Taco

229 N. Belmont Ave., Springfield


Order up!: With the name of this way cool joint, you won’t be surprised to hear that just about the only things on the menu are tacos. Tacos start at $2.95 each. Order different tacos for variety because it’s the spice of life and the key to enjoying more Krazy flavors. The OMG with shredded beef, chimichurri sauce, lettuce and sweet pepper, the El Toro Rojo with ground beef, BBQ and hot sauces, lettuce, tomatoes and candied onions and the Wild Lucy with chicken, cilantro, onion, Sriracha and creamy adobo sauce are a good place to start, but don’t look past the daily special tacos ($3.95 each), because usually that’s where it’s at.

Top it off: This isn’t a place to start getting fancy. Go with a standard margarita, sit back and enjoy the flavor train.

Credit: Local Cantina Water St./ Facebook

Credit: Local Cantina Water St./ Facebook

Local Cantina

503 E. 1st St., Dayton


Order up!: Their “Weezy” tacos that are priced at $6 each, cost just $4 on Taco Tuesday. Our personal favorite is the Crunchweezy made with soft flour and hard corn shells, queso and guacamole, roasted corn and black beans, salsa, barbacoa meat, lettuce, chipotle cream and queso fresco.

Top it off: Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. featuring $6 Mustace rides, margaritas and $4 draft beers. Get there early and save some money.

Rusty Taco

1822 Brown St, Dayton


Order up!: Located near the University of Dayton, Rusty Taco has plenty of its namesake tacos to offer, the best by far being the breakfast tacos. The next time you are debating on where to go to brunch, give this some consideration. They have bacon, egg and cheese tacos ($3.50) or sub a different protein like chorizo, jalapeno sausage for the same price. Steak, egg and cheese or brisket, egg and cheese tacos cost $3.75 each and a black bean, egg and cheese is $3.25.

Top it off: They can make you a bloody Mary, but their margaritas are so good it would be a shame to pass them up.

Credit: Submitted Photo

Credit: Submitted Photo


607 E. 3rd St., Dayton


Order up!: Sueño is inspired by the traditions and culture of Mexico’s burgeoning culinary scene. This is traditional Mexican fare, featuring heirloom corn varieties imported from Oaxaca cooked in dishes over a live fire hearth in Seuño’s open kitchen. This is not your grandma’s Mexican food. It is high-end and has a higher price-point than the other options you’ll find on this list. I personally love the adobe marinated tacos de Cochinita pork tacos with salsa tamulado and pickled red onions (three for $13). They have a roasted mushroom taco for vegans, vegetarians and mushroom lovers that’s also quite good ($13).

Top it off: Just like this isn’t your grandma’s Mexican food, it’s also not her margarita. Grab a Ranch Water ($12) made with blanco tequila, lime, oleo-saccharum, topo chico and cucumber and start studying the cocktail menu for what you’ll go with as your encore.



Taco Street Co.

1100 W. Third St., Dayton


Order up!: In 2017 the first Taco Street Co. food truck hit the road, serving up the original Taco Street Classic, the taco recipe that was handed down from mother to son, and started in all. They’ve expanded from the taco truck to their first restaurant at W. Social Tap and Table in the historic Wright Dunbar neighborhood. They have birria tacos available on Thursdays or Sundays. If you don’t make it then stick with the classic recipe that started it all.

Top it off: Each of the restaurants at W. Social Tap & Table surround the walls of the dining hall and in the center is a giant bar. Go there and get creative with the bartender based on what sounds good. You may go for tacos but find something else that draws you in. This is the kind of place that sparks variations from the plan. With so many options you never know quite where you will gravitate towards.

Dayton Eats covers the region’s food and restaurant news for Dayton Daily News and E-mail Alexis Larsen at with information about dining specials, new chefs, menu changes and other culinary adventures and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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