The sizzling sound of the skillet dissipates into the rafters far overhead as waiters take seared chicken and steak dishes to waiting tables. At Don Mario's, the menu is as expansive as the space, with exposed brick arches, a stone fireplace, and enough ceiling height to pole-vault over a llama. The kitchen crew crafts just about everything on the menu from scratch, from the bulked-up burritos to the sauce-drenched enchiladas. Plenty of televisions hang from the bar for watching sports events, and, on some nights, live music fills the room.
In the kitchens at Mijo's Mexican, cooks wrap large flour tortillas around seasoned ground beef in burritos and sprinkle grilled steak with spices in enchiladas. Outside the kitchen, plumes of steam rise from sizzling shrimp fajitas as waiters cart the dishes to patio tables. Additionally, sampler platters let you combine Mexican staples such as enchiladas, tacos, and flautas in one meal without stealing them from the tables of diners distracted by an argument about non-Newtonian fluids.
Served on Saturday and Sunday during the brunching hour (between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.), El Arroyo’s brunch menu satisfies voracious meal-mingling appetites with filling plates sided with generous helpings of refried beans, nopalitos, and potatoes. Leave gardening trowels at home and fork-dive into a heaping mid-morning-after of huevos rancheros ($5); a tamale omelet ($5); or breakfast tacos with eggs, cheeses, and more ($5). For something sweeter, guide tongues over mountainous stacks of banana or strawberry pancakes ($4.50) like a monkey-saddled Sherpa.
Qdoba's burrito baristas handcraft a menu of Mexican-inspired cuisine, customizable with a panoply of fresh ingredients. Qdoba's culinary crafters create succulent additions to burritos, tacos, and salads, such as slow-roasted pulled pork, adobo-marinated grilled steak or chicken, and spiced shredded or ground beef, with vegetarian options also available for each dish. Diners can bite through the warm shells of three tacos brimming with grilled chicken, steak, or seasoned beef, or mine for black beans and sweet corn within the taco salad’s crunchy tortilla bowl quarry. A festive burrito dinner allows eaters to customize burritos with add-on ingredients, including three-cheese queso or a creamy, hand-smashed guacamole that's ideal for filling up Queen Elizabeth's diamond-studded guacamole chalice. Warm tortilla soup and its crisper cousin, the tortilla chip, let pairs slurp with camaraderie or construct solid foundations for tortilla-chip houses.
Serving authentic Mexican cuisine splashed with flavors from the Baja Peninsula, Habanero's Fresh Mex offers a delicious menu filled with fresh, fiesta-worthy fare. After a half-dozen cream-cheese-filled and fried jalapeno poppers ($6.98) coax taste buds out of pre-consumption comas, diners can delight in a thin-crusted, 12-inch sweet pork pizza topped with pineapple, cilantro, and onions ($9.79) or the chili-rubbed steak of a Texito burrito ($8.29). The Baja-style fish tacos ($7.49) are a popular menu choice and feature beer-battered tilapia swaddled in two soft flour or double-layered corn tortillas quilts and served with cilantro rice and beans. Flan ($2.99) sweetens post-meal mouth-holes, and a bevy of beverages ($1.89–$2) moisturize parched palates with delectable dampness.
The good people at Tin Star have been serving up their inventive, Southwestern-inspired, casual fare, which is made from scratch with fresh ingredients, since 1999—otherwise known as the year Y2K became all too real. After perusing the wide-ranging menu, start a satisfying supper with an order of the fresh-made guacamole ($4.29) or the house-specialty smoky grilled tomato queso ($3.99). Entrees include full-sized salads ($7.49), disassembled burrito-esque bowls ($6.99–$7.99), traditional fajitas ($8.99–$9.99), and quesadillas ($5.99–$7.49), alongside a cornucopia of tacos and house favorites. Opt for the Southwest grilled tilapia, topped with pico and chimichurri sauces ($9.99), or the bacon blue cheeseburger tacos ($7.49), which, like their unshelled inspiration, are highly susceptible to hamburglary.