The chefs at Paquito’s fill hungry hands with a menu of Mexican fare for patrons to nosh while surrounded by bright, funky décor. To start, waiters drop off complimentary tortilla chips and chunky cilantro salsa at the tables, which are covered in fluorescent ponchos. Devour traditional favorites including chorizo-stuffed chimichangas ($13.50), tamales ($8.95), and enchiladas with your choice of meat ($11.50–$14.95). North of the border specialties such as guacamole burgers ($6.95) add a Mexican spin to standard American fare, especially when swallowed down with a classic margarita ($7.95) or a Negra Modelo ($4.50) and ordered while releasing a flock of bald eagles. Quirky knickknacks and art cover Paquito’s walls, whose bright colors represent all the flavors of the original margarita—strawberry, lime, raspberry, peach, and banana.
Named Best Healthful Fast Food in 2009 by Miami New Times, Pepper’s Burrito Grill crams burritos and tacos full of fresh ingredients, and grills up a sizzling menu of quesadillas, enchiladas, and other traditional Mexican fare. Rice and beans rub shoulders with pico de gallo and cheese within the cozy walls of the fish burrito, waiting to be joined by a cuddly companion of beer-battered tilapia and its beer-battered teddy bear ($8.99). Heath-conscious diners can opt for a whole-wheat tortilla for $0.50 extra, or switch to grilled fish at no additional charge. Dress up a shrimp taco “A La Mex” with a hard or soft corn tortilla topped with onion and cilantro ($3.99). An appetizer of queso fundido primes palates with melted chihuahua cheese, sausage, and peppers ($5.99), and a refreshing margarita is perfect for cleansing the palate in between more margaritas ($4.50).
The flavors of Mexico City get an inventive reboot at Cantina Laredo, which has specialized in modern Mexican cuisine since 1984. Over the decades, Catina Laredo locations have spread to numerous states, countries, and at least two planes of reality. Classic dishes fill the menu, including guacamole prepared tableside and hand-rolled enchiladas stuffed with everything from Angus beef to avocado and artichokes. At the same time, the chefs elevate and refine traditional flavors by creating chicken fajitas with bacon, mushrooms, and chipotle-wine sauce and filling tortas with slow-roasted pork, apricot spread, goat cheese, and fried egg.
As for drink pairings, the Casa Rita—Cantina Laredo's signature margarita—is versatile, its classic version including silver tequila with Cointreau and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice. Diners can customize their drink by adding flavors such as mango or tamarind into the mix.
Native Mexican and owner Juan Rodriguez serves a bevy of authentic stomach-stuffers to Floridian feasters with the help of an attentive service staff. Savvy snackers bombard embedded taste buds and online Scrabble nemeses with first-course forkfuls of tostadas de ceviche, shrimp, pico de gallo, and avocado seasoned with fresh lime juice on a flat, fried tortilla ($7.95). Hungry diners gladly muscle through main courses such as the hot and spicy burrito, topped with beef tips and Orale sauce ($10.95), or sizzling trios of marinated pork-filled tacos de carnitas ($9.59). The pollo de poncho features fiery chorizo sausage plucked directly from Florida’s finest encased-meat groves and spread across a grilled chicken breast with rice, beans, and three tortillas ($11.95). Finish off satiation symphonies with a cooling crescendo of fried ice cream ($3.99) or an order of fried churros ($3.50).
Frustrated by a lack of local options for authentic Mexican cuisine, the Alarcon family decided to take matters into their own hands. Originally from Monterey, Mexico, they decided to stop searching for a great Mexican restaurant and just make one instead. The family started by making meals for friends, eventually expanding a take-out taqueria, and, today, the Alarcons welcome guests to El Agave Azul, Named after the type of cactus used to make tequila, El Agave Azul serves up tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, which guests can customize by selecting ultra-fresh ingredients instead of just having their name written in sour cream on them. In addition to fresh pico de gallo and grilled pineapple, diners can choose from 17 different fillings, including the house specialty al pastor pork, tender barbacoa beef, or spicy mushrooms.