Tamale Hut's owner, Jaime Flores, has been schooled in the delicate art of tamale construction by his uncle Tony and aunt Emma, ensuring an authentic experience for cornmeal connoisseurs. With each use of their punch cards, customers may choose one tamale from the menu, whose creations are bedecked with tasty fillings such as a hearty bean stuffing made with pintos and fresh green salsa, and a piquant crab-meat stuffing with jalapeño and red salsa. Sugar-seekers can also opt for a cordial dessert of pineapple or blueberry via Tamale Hut Café's sweet tamales, which are served without a drop of salsa or hint of sarcasm. Punch card feasts pair each maize-laden morsel with a side of chips, a can of pop or bottle of water, and a choice of side item: corn, rice, chili, or tinga—shredded chicken draped with chipotle sauce, topped with sour cream and cotija cheese, and served upon a crispy continental shelf of tortilla chips.
Meals can go in any number of directions at La Quinta De Los Reyes. From specialty margaritas in tropical flavors such as guava, pomegranate, and kiwi to table-side guacamole made according to each table's preferred spiciness, the menu offers myriad ways for personalizing the dining experience. Traditional entrees such as tacos and burritos share menu space with house specialties, including the parrilladas, a heaping plateful of meats, cheeses, peppers, and grilled onions. Fish, shrimp, veggie dishes, and traditional desserts round out the menu. Diners can chow down to the sweet overtures of mariachi bands on Fridays and Sundays, lend their own voices to the chorus on karaoke Thursdays, or head upstairs to cut rugs at the dance club on weekend nights.
Most of the steak, chicken, and seafood morsels that star in La Majada Restaurant's hearty dinners spend quality time with the grill before taking on equally fiery accents of chorizo, peppers, and chile sauce. Along with dizzying combinations of burritos, tacos, and tostadas, the enormous menu also finds room for less common specialties of Mexican smoked ribs and Pollo Cancun: chicken baked in a paper bag and covered in a blend of spices and tequila. Vibrant paintings peer across the expanse of the brick-walled eatery toward a fireplace whose crackling logs occasionally spook nervous piñatas.
Although Oak Park Avenue may have changed around Margaritas since Rene Roman opened the original restaurant in 1988, the eatery's dedication to classic, home-style Mexican cooking never wavered. The chefs continue to use family recipes as they prepare hearty renditions of time-honored classics. This dedication to tradition is evident both in the presentation—they prepare tableside guacamole—and in the flavors of dishes such as shredded beef flautas, sizzling shrimp fajitas, and chicken simmered in rich mole sauce. Fittingly, Margaritas takes pride in its featured cocktail, which the staff prepares in traditional style or with flavors such as strawberry, guava, and pomegranate.
The decor similarly reflects the eatery's commitment to its deeply entrenched roots. Earthenware tiles line the floors, glowing lanterns hang from the ceiling, and potted plants speckle the space. Sunlight spills through the entryway's floor-to-ceiling windows, causing the dining room's yellow walls to glow even brighter during the day, much like a firefly who is a "morning firefly."