Bloody Marys tend to get all the attention at brunch. But there’s another savory alcoholic cocktail often on the menu every weekend that is, arguably, even better — the michelada.
Because it’s served with lower-alcohol beer instead of vodka, the michelada, a Mexican creation popular in its home country, won’t leave you feeling ready to call it a day by noon. Beer also lends a nice effervescence and a little extra flavor to the drink that vodka never will. So where can you get a good one in Austin?
We’ve got you covered. Here’s where to go when you’ve got a hankering for something savory and not so boozy.
Hotel San Jose, 1316 S. Congress Ave. If there’s one michelada recipe that has grown to iconic status in Austin, it’s this one. Tomato isn’t used, as the veggie isn’t always an ingredient in the traditional drink you’ll find south of the border. Instead, soy and Worcestershire sauce deliver a savory blast brightened by lime and Modelo Especial.
Trust us, you’ll be hooked. And now you can replicate it at home: The hotel’s michelada has become so famous that national drinks publication Punch secured the recipe for it online.
El Alma, 1025 Barton Springs Rd. My personal favorite michelada is at this charming South Austin restaurant, the sister eatery to El Chile Cafe, Alcomar and Yuyo. Each place does their staple drinks a little differently, and El Alma’s michelada — with Dos Equis, Bloody Mary mix, Worcestershire, Tabasco and the signature El Chile chili salt rim — has found the perfect balance of being light but still flavorful.MORE: Find boozy respite with some of Austin’s best brunch cocktails
At Craft Pride's Sunday brunch, enjoy beer cocktails like the Craft Chelada with brunch pizza from on-site trailer Via 313.Arianna Auber/Arianna Auber
Craft Pride, 61 Rainey St. The Texas-focused beer bar introduced Sunday brunch last fall, which of course meant perfecting the michelada. Craft Pride’s take, which promises to be spicy, savory and even a little sweet, uses a Texas beer — Big Bend’s Tejas Negra, a sublime choice — and garnishes it with a mini meal of chile lime-dusted salami, a cocktail onion, a pickled beet slice and a Spanish olive.
The Hightower, 1209 E. Seventh St. A recent addition to the brunch menu at this warm East Austin restaurant, the michelada gets its savory center from a sizzling new side project of the Hightower’s chef-owner Chad Dolezal. He adds South Mouth Fried Green Tomato Hot Sauce to Zilker Brewing’s session ale and lime juice for a not-too-spicy kick of a michelada. Dolezal created South Mouth with singer-songwriter Chuck Ragan.
Licha’s Cantina, 1306 E. Sixth St. The interior Mexican restaurant in an old East Austin bungalow is about as authentic as you can get if you don’t mind the higher prices. That holds true at brunch, where you’ll learn that ‘chelada’ and ‘michelada’ are two different things. (Cheladas are simply Mexican beers served with lime juice in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass.) Go ahead and get the full-blown michelada; it’s a delight.
Salt Traders Coastal Cooking, 2850 Interstate 35 N., Round Rock. Live north of Austin? You don’t have to go far for a proper michelada. This seafood spot from the Jack Allen’s Kitchen folks can whip you up the Michelada Tradicional, with Modelo Especial, Worcestershire, Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce, lime and chili lime salt, no matter the time of day.
Cosmic Coffee & Craft Beer, 121 Pickle Rd. Bring a buddy to partake in this michelada. The South Congress Avenue hangout that opened early this year has a small menu of brunch cocktails on weekends, and one of the highlights is the Michelada for Two with Modelo, fresh lime, hot sauce, Maggi Jugo and tajin salt. It literally comes with a small cooler to keep all 24 oz. of the Modelo cold.
Sazón, 1816 S. Lamar Blvd. What a deal you’ll get ordering a michelada. The almost 12-year-old Sazón not only charges you only 50 cents extra to order an accompanying glass of ice, lime juice, Worcestershire and Tabasco with your Mexican beer, but you might also get a lesson in the origins of the word ‘michelada.’ As the menu notes, it essentially means ‘my ice chilled beer.’ We’ll drink to that.
Guero’s Taco Bar, 1412 S. Congress Ave. If you think you can part from Guero’s strong and satisfying margaritas for one afternoon, the michelada is an easy-drinking alternative. The South Congress staple makes their own proprietary Bloody Mary mix and adds fresh lime juice in a salted glass, and the michelada is served with your choice of beer.
Hi Hat Public House, 2121 E. Sixth St. Pick any beer from the draft wall or the small bottle selection to add to Hi Hat’s michelada mix and you’re set. But it’s a little trickier than that if you consider the East Austin pub doesn’t carry Mexican lagers, and the beer list rotates. So what to drink? You’ll want something light and not overly hoppy, like a pilsner or a pale ale. Let the knowledgeable Hi Hat staff guide you.
Kinda Tropical, 3501 E. Seventh St. There’s an exception to every rule. Though micheladas generally call for Mexican lagers, the bartenders at this island-inspired haunt from the co-owner of Yellow Jacket Social Club recommend trying their tomato-free michelada with dark beer. The mix of Chinese black vinegar, soy sauce and spices reaches a transcendent level once you add a rich, malty ale to it.
Independence Brewing offers a michelada with their Cowboys from Helles and the locally produced Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary mix.Julia Keim
Independence Brewing, 3913 Todd Ln. #607. Breweries don’t tend to mix their own beers with other ingredients, but the laid-back Independence has tapped into a pretty tasty michelada recipe. The seasonal Cowboys from Helles, a Munich-style lager, is mixed with Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix, lime juice, muddled jalapeño slices, Worcestershire, Cholula and a Twang Clamato beer salt rim.
Once Cowboys’ ride is done at the end of May, you can make the michelada with either the Power & Light Pale Ale or Cucumber Redbud Berliner Weisse, which is returning very soon.
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