The story of La Fonda De Los Lobos begins in Taos, New Mexico. Owner Octaviano "Otis" Trujillo spent his childhood there before moving to Minnesota, and it's where he first tasted the food he would serve at his restaurant years later. Trujillo's mother, Mama Feloniz, taught him everything he knows about authentic Mexican cuisine. She must have impressed upon him the importance of geography, as the bulk of the eatery's ingredients are still shipped from New Mexico, where—perhaps not coincidentally—Mama Feloniz still resides.
Of course, Trujillo has still put his own stamp on his restaurant, which has been a neighborhood mainstay for nearly 40 years. His influence is apparent in the homey, cantina-style atmosphere as well as in the menu, which features reinvented staples such as chimichangas and loboritos (the latter best described as a taco within a burrito). The restaurant also houses a lively sports bar on the lower level as well as a new patio with its own fire pit. And there's no missing out on the margaritas, which come in a variety of flavors; try the Pink Cadillac, which comes with a splash of cranberry juice and its own parking space.
Traditional Mexican flavors typify the menu at El Parian, from the spicy chorizo that adds a kick to nachos, burritos, and chilaquiles to the mole sauce that covers enchiladas. Vegetarians can also get their fill with mushroom quesadillas, chile rellenos, and bean burritos, boosting spiciness from a selection of hot sauces that graces tables in the dining room and on the patio. To wash down meals, guests can sip tequila, imported Mexican beers, or monster margaritas that measure up to 60 ounces and growl if left unattended.
The former owner of local hotspot Taco Morelos, restaurateur Gaspar Perez now reigns over the kitchen at Las Teresitas Mexican Grill. Here, he's ramped up his well-known Mexican favorites with high-quality ingredients and bold flavors, and this time, he's keeping the entire operation in the family. According to City Pages—which awarded Las Teresitas the 2012 Best Taco award for its chorizo taco—Perez's wife waits tables as his cousin cooks up fajitas, mole chicken, and tacos stuffed with brisket, Mexican-style barbecue pork, or beef cheek. The family's even in the restaurant's name, which Perez chose in honor of his mother (Teresa) and his daughter (also Teresa), who gained popularity at Taco Morelos for greeting customers at the door with a smile and fresh tortilla chips.
The free chips are still a thing. In the center of the casual dining room stands a complementary chips-and-salsa bar, showcasing a spread of nine colorful homemade salsas in varying degrees of heat. Perez encourages guests to sample these salsas—which include tomato chipotle and chili de arbol varieties—and use them to customize their meals or secretly spice up a friend's horchata.
At El Burrito Cubano, a family of epicureans funnels three decades of restaurant experience into a menu of build-your-own burritos and classic sandwiches. The clan's Cuban heritage infuses sandwiches stuffed with roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, and pickles, which diners may recognize from the lunch menu of one of their other restaurants, Conga Latin Bistro. Brimming with seafood ceviche, curried tilapia, or shrimp creole, the Burrito Marinero summons maritime flavors as vibrant as Poseidon's party yacht. Tropical beverages such as pineapple-mango smoothies and strawberry-melon punch add a dose of sweetness.
Qdoba's burrito baristas handcraft a catering menu of Mexican-inspired cuisine, customizable with a panoply of fresh ingredients for a taco, nacho, or burrito bar. Qdoba's culinary crafters craft succulent fillings for burritos, tacos, nachos, and quesadillas, including protein-packing choices, such as slow-roasted pulled pork, adobo-marinated grilled steak or chicken, and spiced shredded or ground beef, with vegetarian options also available. Taste the gooey flavor accents of the signature queso sauce, a three-cheese blend with roasted poblanos, tomatoes, and jalapeños, the pinto or black beans simmered in cumin and onion, or the creamy, hand-smashed guacamole that's ideal for filling up Queen Elizabeth's diamond-studded guacamole chalice. Tortilla chips with salsa bar and desserts complete each catered event, and customers can opt for burrito-boxed lunches and any add-ons.
The ruleta wheel at Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant sends tablefuls of friends into a frenzy when one of the bunch is chosen to take a spin. Landing on the right space in this wheel can grant the entire table free drinks from a selection of specialty margaritas and cocktails. This is just one of the ways the staff amps up the festive atmosphere in the restaurant—there's also karaoke every night Thursday through Sunday. And thanks to the flat screen televisions, patrons can keep an eye on their favorite teams as they face off with rivals or trade secrets for keeping their shoelaces tied.
Patrons come as much for the atmosphere as they do for the menu of chicken flautas, cheese enchiladas, shrimp chimichangas, pork ribs, and other traditional Mexican cuisine. When the weather's nice they can dine outside, where umbrellas protect their entrees from the sun's sticky fingers. Regular lunch specials and the Monticello location's lunch buffet make midday dining even more enticing.