An American tourist in Mexico might stroll by a restaurant decorated with goat horns and not give the decor a second thought. However, the horns do often signify something special: birria, a hearty mexican stew from the state of Jalisco. And while Mr. Burritos and Los Lokos Burritos may not have goat horns strung across its walls, its chefs do make the spicy, soul-warming treat—but only on weekends.
The name Mr. Burritos should give away the eatery’s other specialty, which comes in nearly 20 varieties—including two vegetarian options and two sizes, baby or giant. Similar spiced meats, such as barbacoa, steak, and carnitas, also fill tacos and chimichangas. People who weirdly enjoy mornings can stop by in the a.m. for a hearty Mexican breakfast of eggs and chorizo. Aside from inviting guests to test their heat tolerances at three locations, Mr. Burritos and Los Lokos Burritos deliver their food directly to doorsteps and can also cater events such as birthday parties and presidential debates.
At Amada's Cafe, a sprawling menu of authentic Mexican and Cuban dishes keeps palates satisfied into the late hours. Tacos arrive inside corn or flour tortillas carrying flavorful bounties of carne asada, chorizo, chili rellenos, or pirate gold. Guests can pair seafood dishes such as breaded shrimp or whole red snapper grilled in butter and garlic with refreshing glasses of horchata. The slate of Cuban dishes ranges from classic cuban sandwiches topped with roasted pork, ham, and pickles to ropa vieja, tender pieces of shredded beef bathed in a Cuban-style tomato sauce.
Melding classic regional Mexican recipes with the spice and energy of a cantina, Alejandra's chefs craft a menu that provides travel-hungry taste buds with a passport to flavor. Jumbo shrimp sizzle with the piquant spices of homemade salsa in the a la veracruzana (a $10.95 value), and the grilled skirt steak tampiqueña satisfies meat cravings with a sliced poblano chile and a cheese enchilada on the side (a $13.95 value). The costillas a la parrilla invite appetites to admire a generous, full slab of Mexican-style barbecue ribs as they lounge saucily on a bed of rice, vegetables, and optional throw pillows (a $17.95 value). Satiate an herbaceous appetite with the chiles rellenos, which offer up a sumptuous stuffing of cheese and corn, encased within a green-pepper shell (a $7.95 value). Or, discover the shredded chicken center hidden beneath the soft surface of classic enchiladas, colorfully topped with cilantro, green onions, melted cheese, and a choice of rojas, verdes, or mole sauce (a $9.95 value). Chilly fruit lends color and a heady sweetness to red wine in the included pitcher of sangria, a vivid and robust concoction perfect for sharing with a date or for distracting a charging bull.
Behind the counter at De Pasada, staffers pack the black chalkboard menu with a mélange of burritos, tacos, and classic Mexican entrees. Stone masks, South American décor, and a flat-screen television lurk in the split-level dining area, waiting to catch hungry eyes in a way that Shakespearean food dioramas never could. During warmer months, overhead fans cast breezes on diners when the cool presence of a frosty Jarritos or horchata isn't enough.
The rhythm of knives chopping tomatoes and peppers for salsa and pans sizzling fajitas fills the kitchen at Bravo Restaurant as chefs prepare an array of traditional Mexican recipes. Patrons share plates of fish ceviche marinated in lime and lemon juice as well as hearty entrees such as tender chicken breast coated in mole sauce and cohinita pibil––marinated pork slowly cooked in banana leaves and topped with a fiery habanero salsa. Behind the full bar, staff members keep up with the tempo of orders with their margarita shakers and glasses of mojitos with fresh muddled lime. On Friday nights, those refreshing cocktails help guests build up the nerve to get onstage and sing karaoke tunes or announce their candidacy for Mr. Universe.
The Gomez family members first chose to share their family-style Mexican cooking with the Chicagoland area in 1992, founding Los Arcos Mexican Grill. Currently, the family's restaurant empire includes four locations, each of which shares a similar dedication to Mexican and Tex-Mex comfort foods. The chefs make all of the tamales and soups in-house, rounding out the selection with a traditional assortment of tacos, burritos, tortas, fajitas, tostadas, chimichangas, and more. However, they also demonstrate their willingness to create inventive new dishes. This is readily apparent in the menu's signature item: the hollowed out half of a grilled pineapple filled with pineapple pieces, onion, red peppers, jalapeños, and either shrimp and octopus or chicken and skirt steak.