SXSW: Micheladas across the parking lot
March 13th, 2011
01:30 PM ET
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It'd been a beast of a week and I was utterly shot. Between the stress of having my mother in the hospital many states away and a massive onslaught of work, I felt as if the meager amount of sleep I'd manage to capture had absolutely no impact on my body or my psyche.

So I was brittle and bone tired by the time I landed in Austin on Friday night, checked in and slogged across the hotel parking lot to the first lighted place I saw. I approached it from the back - or the aft, as I soon came to realize. It was, of all things, a restaurant shaped like a boat that had just up and run aground into the asphalt , despite the helpful guidance of the equally improbable lighthouse, docked atop a patch of scrubby grass.

I took the only free seat at the U-shaped bar, amongst the men from the auto body shop (if their shirt patches were indeed accurate), young, tattooed Mexican dudes and families gathered for Lenten Friday fish fry.

I ordered a "mick-a-lada,' knowing what I'd get, but I'd never heard it pronounced or actually had one. The young, ink-sleeved shucker looked at me quizzically and then nodded. "Ohhhh, you mean michelada*! What beer?"

My turn to be caught off guard. Uh...uhhh...

He took charge. "Bud Light!" and came back with a salt and chili-dusted mug with a deep red and smoky-smelling sludge at the bottom. There was a spoon in the glass, the beer bottle on the side and he didn't come back, so I poured and stirred, then sipped.

I am not a drinker of beer or a Bloody Mary devotee, but I swear, this beverage just called to me from some other plane - drink me. The heat flowed from the base of my tongue, through my ears, across my cheeks and some part of my heart it knew needed tending to. All that had been wearing on me surely wasn't solved, but for just a moment, I knew it was miles away.

Half a dozen ugly, craggy, creamy and utterly necessary Gulf oysters later, and I was once again moored, my ship righted - at least for the time being.

The man next to me, dining solo and decked in the insignia of a different auto shop from seemingly another state, turned to me. "I have to ask - what in the world is that you're drinking? It looks great."

"Well, it's a michelada," I said, proud of my sudden mastery of the lingo, "And you really should have one. They're good for what ails you."

*"mee-cha-lah-dah"

Got a favorite place for micheladas? Share the love in the comments below. See more at What's Next / SXSW and follow @eatocracy and @kittenwithawhip on Twitter for delicious dispatches from Austin

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Filed under: Beer • Cuisines • Events • Mexican • Sip • SXSW • Tex Mex • Texas


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soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. john

    We have prepared 3 proprietary all natural dry chili mixes for the Michelada. Check us out at http://www.micheladas.com

    March 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  2. Austin-aight

    Michelada is my favorite drink, I don't mean to brag but I have become quite a connoisseur. I have been all over Austin tasting different kinds of micheladas in a numerous of different places. Most mexican or tex mex restaurants will have them on their menu, most have decent ones but for me decent doesn't cut it. Cantina Laredo, Hula Hut, and Shady Grove have good micheladas, but in my opinion no one does them like the guys at Hotel San Jose....hands down the best in town. A good tip for all you michelada aficionados: PLENTY OF LIME JUICE (you can never put too much limejuice) and don't be afraid of the WORCESTERSHIRE both of these go really well with beer, of all hot sauces tabasco pairs best and it's up to you how spicy you want it (I like mine exxxtra spicy). Don't forget the clamato, tomato juice is just too blant; salt-rimmed glass is more than just garnish, it puts the aahh! in michelada!!

    March 16, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  3. Duncan in Houston

    Captain Tom's, three locations in Houston. Many a dozen raw oysters and Michelada's consumed. They use the coctail sauce that is mixed for the raw oysters, plus a fresh lime, oyster in bottom and dump a Corona in the beer mug and mix! Ohhh that's good!

    March 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  4. Dr Matrix

    I had one in Oaxaca. The rim was dusted with ground up fried grasshoppers (chapolinas) and chili. You can get the fried grasshoppers everywhere there.

    March 14, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  5. jay in florida

    Micheladas are easy to make. It is a lot like a bloody mary. But use Clamato juice instead, and beer instead of vodka. The beer by the way, go easy on it.... a full glass of Michelada only takes about 1/5th of a beer bottle. You can rim the glass with salt, or if you prefer to do it more traditional styled use salt mixed with crushed, ground, hot red pepper flakes. Add some lime juice if you want as well.

    March 14, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  6. Orlando

    Try the michelada at El Chile Cafe. One of Austin's best!

    March 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
  7. txsntv

    Doneraki's makes the best Michelada's in Texas. Too bad there isn't one in Austin. There is always Matt's El Rancho, though, which has the best rita's in Texas.

    March 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • champkind

      El Chile makes the best micheladas I've had in Texas. Get off of I35 at Manor Road in Austin. Head east about one mile. It's on your right. You will laugh (or be disgusted) at any other michelada you get at other restaurants after you've tried the one at El Chile.

      March 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  8. ///RAndy

    XX dos equis .michelada ... the best !!!

    March 14, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  9. Arlene

    Next time, mix it with a Modelo Especial beer, yum!

    March 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  10. Uncle LT

    Try Captain Toms, West I-10 in Houston, between Fry and Mason. All the usual additives, plus clam juice and limes. Oh Yeah!

    March 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  11. Edward

    Humm, we used to have this at Feather Falls in California. We just called it tomato beer.

    March 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Joe

      or in Denver in the late 70's called the red beer

      March 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  12. Alex Faris

    the best Michelada in Austin is at Takoba! They pulp the lime on the rim of the glass right in front of you...no other bar in Austin comes close to their masterpiece...also, please try their Bandarita Shooters...insanely great!!

    March 14, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Joe

      what's in a bandarita shooter?

      March 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
      • Alex Faris

        It's a 3 part shot...3 shot glasses done in progression...1st one has fresh lime juice, the 2nd has the Tequila, and the 3rd is a spicy tomato juice that finishes everything real nicely!!

        March 14, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  13. Roachmon

    Ooops... forgot the glug of Valentina Hot Sauce on the above recipe.... gotta have the hot sauce...

    March 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  14. JB

    Gotta admit, that sounds disgusting. Then again, many foods I once thought unappealing became some of my favorites once I finally gave them a try. Will keep an eye out for micheladas.

    March 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  15. Roachmon

    I made a couple of these for myself just yesterday afternoon.... Margarita Salt rimmed glass, Clamato juice, Worcestershire, Horse Radish, a squeeze of lime and Budwieser... Also tossed in a shot of vodka.... yumy!

    March 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  16. SangreconVida

    Ahhhh...the best Michelada.....Tapatio, lots and lots of lime juice, salt to taste, topped off with any Mexican beer!

    March 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  17. Jeff

    Michelada...aka "red beer". While all the variations sound great at it's simplest it just takes a beer and Spicy V-8 or Snap-E-Tom. They taste too good and go down way too easy. They are however a great summer drink!

    March 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  18. A

    The only alcohol I drink is gluten-free beer, and I love Clamato juice. This drink is PERFECTION.

    March 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  19. amo de Taxco

    When we visited Mexico and took a day trip to Taxco, we discovered micheladas! There it was Corona beer, lime juice, a wedge of lime, and a salted rim. No hot sauce, no tomato juice, no vodka. Just the beer, lime and salt. Wonderful!

    March 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • cane75

      You are exactly right. I have traveled to Mexico on many, many business trips, and even a few vacations, and Micheladas in Mexico, no matter what part of the country you are in, is usually a dark beer (like Negro Modelo), a lot of lime juice (usually one or two whole limes) and a large frosty mug ringed with salt. That's it, no clamato juices, or hot sauce or any of that nonsense discussed here which sound more of a TexMex variation not the real thing.

      March 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      When I last visited texaco, I had to get me a pair of michelins.

      March 18, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  20. lcjw

    How about a recipe? Anyone?

    March 14, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Joe

      blend 1/2 bottle of clamato with 1/2 bottle spicy tomato juice add as many squeezed limes to the clamato as you deem necessary. Add plenty of celery salt, tabasco, worchestersire, to mixture and shake very well. This is enought for you to finish a six pack by yourself. Rim the mug with salt and fill with ice 1/4 of mix to 3/4 beer and enjoy.

      March 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
      • Jorge

        That is not the recipe for the Michelada (pronounced: mee-cheh-la-da). It is a Mexican drink, that originated in San Luis Potosi state. It never has clamato. It has lemon juice, spicy sauce (i.e. Tabasco), Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce, salted rim and beer, preferably dark Mexican beer (Indio, Victoria). You can even add some drops of soy sauce and that is it. Instructions: salt the rim of any crystal glass; add the ice, all the ingredients (lots of lemon juice -lemon, not lime -) and finally add the beer. Best results if the mix is at least a third of the glass. Enjoy!

        March 14, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Jorge

      lcjw: fi you want the original recipe, scroll down to my earlier post. You can also visit this page to learn about the history of it, if you can understand a little bit of spanish: http://www.revistavive.mx/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=23:michelada&catid=22:art&Itemid=5
      BTW: when you only have the salt, the lemon juice and ice, it is called Chelada (cheh-la-da), without the "Mi" at the beginning. Trust me you will enjoy the Michelada a lot. Remember: at least one third mix, two thirds beer.

      March 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
      • Elizabeth L in Apex, NC

        Jorge, what is Maggi sauce, and where can it be found? Thanks!

        March 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Jorge

      Dear Elizabeth L in Apex, NC: Maggi sauce is a seasoning sauce. My best guess is you can find it at any import foods store, or you can even order it online at Amazon.com, follow the next link: http://www.amazon.com/Maggi-Seasoning-Sauce-3-38-oz/dp/B0000GHEGC
      This is a must, so I recommend you order it. It will be worthy, trust me. Regards from Mexico. I also guess you can find it in some local stores in your Apex neighborhood. Good luck and enjoy!

      March 14, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Jorge

      DearElizabeth L in Apex, NC: Here's a page where you can order it online too. Surprisingly, it also has a pretty fair recipe for Michelada, even though they don't mention its name.
      http://www.importfood.com/sama6701.html I insist: never use Clamato, my friends, or vodka or anything else other than what I just mentioned, if you do, enjoy you mix, but please don't call it Michelada, it simply isn't :). BTW: dark, full flavored beer is best, but if you don't have it, any Mexican beer will do, including a common Corona.

      March 14, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  21. Nino Bravo

    Manga de BORRACHOS! Haha! Sounds yummy though.

    March 14, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  22. Jonathan

    Capt. Benny's? Really? For a michelada? Sacrilege. If you want a good michelada in Austin simply go to El Chile. Leave michelada's to the people who know what they're doing.

    Bud Light?!?!? GAAAAAHHHH!!!!!

    March 14, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Sometimes it's not about what's best - it's about what's THERE.

      March 14, 2011 at 11:47 am |
      • dnfromge

        Amen to that!

        March 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
      • Jonathan

        That's fair.

        March 14, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  23. Joe

    Many variations of a michelada down here in west Texas (El Paso). The best is the one made with a salted rim, clamato juice, lime juice with special spices and the beer of your choice. It's a refreshing way to end a work filled day or just sitting by the pool and enjoying the refreshing michelada. They are addicting – can't just have one. the best is made at the old bar by the old cemetery L&J Cafe. Don't forget to eat there – you will be back.

    March 14, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • M

      Joe, seems like you own the place with the specific advertising...

      March 14, 2011 at 11:23 am |
      • Joe

        don't own the place just lived there all my life and i know all those special holes in the wall that make the best food and drinks in good ole El Paso, TX.

        March 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  24. Marc

    Michelada is quite popular here in Houston. Its hot sauce + beer (usually corona or sol) . Has a more savory vs spicy taste to it than say tabasco or valentina...however it is still deliciously picante! Some of the females in my family dislike beer but they LOOOOOVE micheladas!

    March 14, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  25. Kathleen

    I sure miss Captain's Oyster Bar. I envy you, Kat.

    There's lots of good BBQ in Austin, but try The County Line - great bbq with a better view. Also hit the courtyard at Matt's El Rancho and have a margarita - a sublime experience. (if you'll pardon the pun).

    March 14, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • V

      Make the trip to Dripping Springs, just outside Austin, to visit The Salt Lick. Worlds better than County Line, which is just a chain restaurant with kitschy, cliched interior.

      March 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
      • Kathleen

        But the EXTERIOR (i.e., the view), beats the Salt Lick hands down.

        (If I want good I go to Lockhart)

        March 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  26. A recipe would be nice!!

    So is it just copious amounts of chili powder (Mexican?) in the bottom of the mug, mixed with any beer? I love a spicy Bloody Mary, so this combination sounds rather intriguing!

    March 14, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • M

      No, it's not just chili powder. It has a combination of ingredients, similar to bloody mary, but not quite and it is delicious. Stores have the mix in the liquor section that you can just add lime, beer and ice and it's ready to go–salt and tabasco gives it a kick. It's only 1/5th mix and the rest is beer or it's too strong.

      March 14, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • DRTSAT

      I just use Frank's Red Hot sauce, tomato juice, beer and ice in mine when I make them. I think you can also buy a mix.

      March 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • garyprovencher

      the micheladas I used to drink in Mexico were not with any clamato or tomato juice. They were about 3/4" of lime juice, some worstershire (or maggi) sauce, a very small squirt of red hot sauce, a sprinkle of black pepper, and a salted rim, usually made with Bohemia beer, but amber Dos Equies worked just fine in a pinch. Many places in Panama make them just with lime juice and a salted rim, but that's a Chelada. I had one place in Bakersfield, CA make me one with clamato, and I sent it back and asked them to make it the first way I described. The bartender knew immediately that I had been to Nuevo Laredo, which is how they make them there. I guess there are as many variations of Micheladas as there are of Mole.

      March 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  27. Mildred

    I hope your mom's doing better.

    I don't tend to like beer... or bloody marys. But that does sound worth a try.

    March 14, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  28. alice

    "mee-chee-lah-dah"

    March 14, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • batgirl

      No, not "mee-chee-lah-dah" To be pronounced that way the word would be spelled "michilada".

      March 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  29. Michael Procopio

    I like your style. Hope your mom is doing better.

    March 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
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