In 1995, Tijuana Flats founder Brian Wheeler opened his first restaurant in Winter Park, Florida, and started supplying patrons with zestyTex-Mex burritos, chimichangas, and nachos flavored with his own line of impressively spicy hot sauce. The restaurant?s laid-back, fun-loving atmosphere caught on with customers, and it eventually expanded to more than 100 locations across six different states.
At each location, colorful comic-book style wall art surrounds guests, forming a festive backdrop for feasts of mahi-mahi fish tacos, crispy chicken tostadas, and vegetarian burritos made with lard-free beans. Tijuana Flats prides itself on its commitment to freshness, with chefs whipping up each meal to order without the aid of freezers, microwaves, or replicators.
A fireplace flickers and a fountain babbles at Mexico City Grill, where textured murals line the walls and booths. Seated at those colorful booths, diners savor entrees, such as Mexico City–style chimichangas and burritos stuffed with grilled steak, slow-roasted lamb, or pork marinated with guajillo chilies and pineapple juice. For a taste of the sea, try the Gulf de Mexico Feast—a spread of steamed clams, petite lobster tails, and other seafood. Bartenders mix cocktails and pour cold beer to pair with meals.
Guests step into another world when they sit down at Riviera Maya Bar & Grill. The dining room shrouds guests in reincarnated ancient decor, as the food acts as a time-travel device that can be swallowed, like a photo of the '88 family reunion. In this winsome space, the staff serves tender strips of steak sizzling on a heaping fajita plate, loaded with grilled onions, tomatoes, and peppers. A variety of seafood adds a maritime flavor, such as camarones a la diabla, or shrimp possessed by the demon of spiciness. The kitchen team's dedication to authentic recipes is evident in modern creations such as Armando’s pizza, a mexican pizza that swaps in flour tortillas as the crust and supports toppings of beans, steak, and tomatoes.
A fleet of cooks crafts authentic south-of-the-border dishes that populate the menu at La Posada—an eatery owned by a couple that hails from Atolinga, Zacatecas in Mexico. Diners dunk tortilla chips into kiddy pools of guacamole, and wash down bites with sips of Coronas or Mexican-imported Jarritos. Wooden tables creak beneath heaping portions of fajitas, a sizzling medley of chicken or steak, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, awaiting their fate of being wrapped in tortillas and smuggled home under bowler hats.
Mazatlan is a family restaurant that specializes in traditional recipes presented within a warmly welcoming environment free of rogue cannon fire or aluminum space bats. Spicy and mild-minded palates alike can mull over a full menu of savory standards such as custom-cooked steak or chicken fajitas ($11.75), as well as off-the-beaten-path treats such as seafood enchiladas with fish, crabmeat, and shrimp atop a bed of rice, guacamole, and pico de gallo ($8.99). Mazatlan's more straight-up specialties include the pineapple chicken grill topped with tomatoes, red onions, pineapple slices, and avocado ($10.75). And for anyone who has ever been tempted to order a taco that contained only more tacos, the fajita burrito ($8.99) might be the closest thing to living out the dream of foods wrapped within foods wrapped within foods. Once you've built up a solid mouth-fire, put it out with a signature 27-ounce Mazatlan Margarita (Tequila Cazadores, triple sec, sweet and sour mix, Red Bull, and Grand Marnier, $9.15) and some fried ice cream ($4.25).