Hacienda Mexican Grill's two locations brim with artifacts and artistic depictions of Mexico's rural estates. Carvings of horses, statues of campesinos, and murals of mountainous countryside immerse patrons in Mexico's history. Wagon wheels hang beneath brick archways, and traditional Mexican dresses decorate the walls with ancient dry-cleaning tickets still in their pockets.
Baskets of tortilla chips with freshly made salsa greet Hacienda's guests. As guests sip margaritas indoors or out on the patio, the kitchen staff tosses chicken, beef, and veggies into traditional Mexican dishes to cook up classic tamales and burritos. Combining two classics, the fajita taco salad buries morsels of grilled steak or chicken beneath a bed of cheese, bell peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and guacamole.
Sol Y Luna’s recipes stem from the Castro family’s roots in Guadalajara, Mexico, but the presentation represents a commitment to more than just tradition. Meals emerge from the kitchen tapas style, with small plates that feature authentic mexican flavors tinged with a contemporary twist. Chipotle-rubbed pork-tenderloin medallions arrive with chihuahua cheese grits, and garlic mashed sweet potatoes accompany the spicy shrimp diabla, exemplifying this interplay between modern and time-honored visions of Mexico’s cuisine. A robust tequila list complements the menu with spirits aged anywhere from two months to four years.
In contrast to the inventive dishes that top its tables, the restaurant’s decor aims for a simpler, cozier ambiance. The textured walls mimic the look of sunbaked adobe, complementing the homey charm of the dining room’s shelves, which feature handcrafted wood sculptures, family photographs, and bronzed report cards.
Salsarita's swiftly serves a spicy sea of Mexican dishes, with a myriad of fresh ingredients available to customize any meal. Peruse the menu in search of an ideal south-of-the-border entree, such as a bodacious burrito ($4.59–$5.59 for a small or $5.99–$6.99 for a large) or a tantalizing taco ($1.99–$2.49). Fusion-minded food-lovers can try one of Salsarita's pizzas ($5.49) of the taco, vegetarian, white, or BBQ variety. Sides such as chips and guacamole ($2.59) sidle up to non-tortilla options such as nachos ($5.99–$6.99) or taco salads ($4.99–$6.99), a dish born when a claustrophobic bunch of lettuce refused to climb into the overcrowded taco shell.
In today's chatter-heavy world, delicious secrets rarely last a day, let alone more than a century. Yet according to LA Teen Festival magazine, the Anaya family behind Pinches Tacos has managed to guard its coveted mole recipe for more than 120 years. The sauce's undisclosed ingredients have transferred from bough to bough of the Anaya family tree, passing through the generations alongside methods for hand making tortillas, marinating carne asada, and blindfolding tour groups that walk through the kitchen. The authentic eats have also made the trip from Mexico to California and Alabama.
The Homewood location is owned by Ty Taylor, whom befriended the Anayas while living in Hollywood and moonlighting as an actor. Running his own Pinches location brought him back home to his native Alabama after years out West in the restaurant and entertainment industry. “I love reconnecting with friends I haven’t seen in twenty years,” he told the Homewood Star last year. “Friends stop by weekly to say ‘hello’ and share a drink. It’s great to be back in a neighborhood surrounded by new and old friends.”
The Star also reports that the restaurant's name comes from the Spanish slang for cook, "pinche," which Pancho Villa would reputedly shout whenever he craved a taco meal. Today, the tacos on the Anayas’ menu would have made Pancho beg. They come cradling everything from slow-broiled and citrus-scented pork to shrimp and cactus, exploring the full possibilities of fresh ingredients and authentic Mexican combinations. Burritos, tortas, and sopes round out the list of street-food staples, carrying with them everything from Angus beef to oaxacan cheese.
The staffer’s nimble hands move swiftly, drawing from a colorful line of fresh tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeños, and onions as he expertly prepares a fresh batch of guacamole right in front of diners. As guests take in the tableside theatrics, chefs in the kitchen whip up homemade tamales, tacos, burritos, and a variety of seafood specialties hailing from Mexico. Meanwhile, bartenders squeeze fresh limes into top-shelf margaritas and authentic micheladas. Ornamental lanterns illuminate colorful walls, rustic wooden tables, and stone-tile floors in the spacious dining room, where, on Sundays, the restaurant hosts mariachi bands to play live music and reenact the audience's favorite scenes from Top Gun in Spanish.