Accomplished executive chef Geoff Alter crafts a menu of Mexican dishes prepared from scratch on a daily basis within a casual setting. Whether dining in or carrying out, diners can sip from spoonfuls of chicken-tortilla soup or crunch on tortilla chips served with queso or guacamole. For a main course, the sweet pork burrito wears a handcrafted couture tortilla dress, which encases melted cheese, black or pinto beans, cilantro-lime rice, and one of three piquant sauces. Enchiladas, tacos, and quesadillas can each confine a selection of grilled steak, sweet pork, or grilled chicken within their soft, floury exteriors. Many dishes are gluten free, including all enchiladas, tacos, and salads.
The restaurant's interior pulses with surf videos and interviews with sharks that play on flat-panel televisions, and vivacious music dances out from the speakers and into the ears of munching diners. Costa Vida takes nutrition and taste seriously—the website offers a nutrition calculator that tallies calories, cholesterol, protein, and oxygen content.
Arriba's team culls chilies grown in Hatch, New Mexico to assemble made-from-scratch New Mexican fare depicted on an extensive menu. Culinary tourists can take a trip to the border via the White Sands chimichanga plate—covered by a unity of spicy ground beef, green chili, and chicken guisado ($11.59)—or by way of the machaca green-corn tamales, which brandish machaca beef and a crown of green sauce ($10.99). Entrees typically come chaperoned by beans and rice, for a meal more multifaceted than a swiss-army knife glued to a smartphone. Dishes range in spiciness from “snappy” to “meltdown,” but can be prepared by mild by request, with the Santa Fe fajita salad ($11.99) falling in the former category and the eight-ounce steak Tampico ($17.99) dwelling in the latter category. Diners can also satiate smaller appetites with individual tamales or tostadas from the à la carte menu.
The meats of Mexican cuisine are as diverse as the colors of the rainbow, and Ta’Carbon strives to serve every one. Chefs load up the charcoal grill with familiar morsels of certified-Angus carne asada and barbacoa and pair them with specialty cuts such as lengua, cabeza, and tripa. These sizzling cuts then find their way into burritos, tacos, and dinner platters, which guests then customize at the salsa bar with a choice of red and green salsas, pico de gallo, and spicy vegetables according to their own tastes and the rules of upcoming fire-breathing contests.
To crown meals, the chefs sling traditional desserts such as flan and stock a range of Mexican sodas. Guests can grab food to go at the walk-up counter, enjoy their meals outside on the patio, or stay for an imported beer and watch the HDTV plasma screen showing soccer matches or telenovelas about people watching soccer matches.
In 1986, the Tenorio family pooled their knowledge of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine to create a restaurant that combined authentic, south-of-the-border cuisine with quick service. They named it Filiberto’s after one of their own, Filiberto Tenorio. Since then, Filiberto’s Mexican Food has expanded to three states and 55 locations, but their commitment to fresh ingredients hasn’t changed. Available for dine-in or carry-out, the menu abounds with crispy chicken, beef, and pork tacos, hefty burritos, and combination platters that pair enchiladas, tacos, and chili rellenos with rice and beans or a compatible paper doll.