Over the last century, many traditional Mexican dishes have found a comfortable home in American kitchens, from nachos covered in savory toppings to enchiladas and many variations of tacos. Luckily, when visiting El Porto Mexican Restaurant, guests don’t have to choose one of their favorite Mexican dishes over another. Instead they mix and match the shop’s combination dinners. Chefs pair tacos filled with carne asada, marinated pork loin, or fish with enchiladas, chalupas, and chili rellenos.
Chefs even create pairings specially designed for vegetarians, subbing in mushrooms, bell peppers, and spinach for the traditional meats of their dishes. The one thing that doesn’t come with these pairings is desserts, and options range from caramel-kissed flan to deep-fried tortillas filled with bananas, honey, strawberries, and whipped cream like the blimp in a great dream.
Iguana's Mexican Cantina houses a mouthwatering menu of authentic Mexican fare built from fresh ingredients. Nibble on an order of cheese-bedecked chicken nachos ($6.15 full order; $3.75 half) before excavating a hidden city of deep-fried pork tenderloin carnitas from the gustatory layers of mexican white rice, black beans, and guacamole trapped inside flour tortillas ($11.25). The eatery's substantial seafood selection collects oceanic treasures like a hoarding Poseidon, including the Iguanas chimichanga ($19.99), a tortilla stuffed with deep-fried scallops and lobster, all drizzled with cheese. Satisfy your meat tooth with three tacos de carne asada ($9.70) stocked with steak and a choice of garnishes such as black beans, pico de gallo, or salsa picosa.
New Mexico-grown chilies, Alaskan king crab, and Iowan beef sizzle and pop in the skillets at Campeche Bay Cantina, whose home-style kitchen turns out both traditional dishes and unexpected takes on familiar flavors. Chorizo quesadillas and carne asada tacos compete for diners' affections with chicken or steak fajita sandwiches and the key lime or mud pies.
Paco's Mexican Grill dishes out a laid-back, beach bar–style vibe alongside its refreshing Baja fare in a prime seaside location. Before asking the ocean for change, seasoned beach bums begin their day with the ever-popular dawn patrol breakfast burrito, a tortilla stuffed with energizing eggs, potatoes, bacon, rice, cheese, and black beans ($5.59). Paco's lunch and dinner menu boasts a bounty of folded fare, including Baja-style fish tacos with cabbage, cheese, and white sauce ($3.29), or meaty al pastor tacos conjoined with cabbage, queso fresco, and guacamole ($3.39). Nibble Poseidon's favorite midnight charbroiled fish burrito snack, served with rice, cabbage, beans, and guacamole ($6.79), or bring the long-warring factions of land and sea together with a surf 'n' turf combo, a savory peace accord of carne asada and your choice of Baja, blackened, or charbroiled fish ($8.49).
Cyclones Tex Mex Cantina entwines Mexican cuisine with flavors of the Lone Star state with a menu of traditional burritos, fajitas, and tacos, spiced up with spreads of charbroiled chicken and bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp. Food ferriers walk through brick archways balancing platters of handmade chicken or pork tamales ($9), presenting them to diners lounging in comfy green booths. The Camarones Mazatlan sees six jumbo shrimp marinated in garlic and butter, then skewered on a lance by a miniature knight and brought to the table with tomato slices and avocado ($13). The Tacos Gringos enfold a vegetarian mix of beans, cheese, tomatoes, and guac ($8), while a sweet duet of flan ($4) and Texas Oil mud pie ($5) fill out the menu’s desserts section. Barflies can perch or headstand on stools at a corrugated-tin counter and lick the salt from Cyclones Tex Mex Cantina’s specialty margaritas.