Lime green walls surround guests at Mesa Grande Taqueria as they wait in a cafeteria-style line for their turn to watch cooks create customizable Mexican dishes. Tacos, burritos, nachos, and quesadillas materialize out of the restaurant’s fresh ingredients and meats, which include grilled chicken or steak that’s been marinated in chipotle adobo sauce, or vegetarian guacamole and black beans. As they diner, guests might also notice the restaurant’s energy-efficient lighting, reusable silverware and baskets, and biodegradable to-go utensils, which help the taqueria take its commitment to staying green well past its vivid walls.
The capable chefs at the family-owned Mi Casa Mexicana guide culinary tourists southward with a menu of authentic house-made Mexican dishes in a vibrant, casual dining room. An order of chips and freshly diced salsa ($2.75) coaxes out appetites and urges them to invite an additional side of guacamole ($2.50) to the table by ordering it a drink and tossing out an alluring line. Diners saunter onto more serious satiation with house specials such as the pollo en mole ($14.95), in which rich, spicy mexican mole smothers plump poultry pieces. Chefs harbor shredded pork and beef in a fortress of toasted bread in the tortas ($6.25) and fry up scoops of ice cream ($4.75), which continues to baffle chemists around the globe.
Every item on Arriba Tortilla's inventive menu is made from scratch, borrowing from both traditional Mexican and contemporary Tex-Mex recipes. Customize a combination of crisp veggies, freshly grated cheese, and high-quality meats to create a fun Mexican pizza atop a toasty 12" tortilla crust (starting at $6.28). Or, apply your appetite's taste for design to a plate of one 8'' flour or two hard-shell tacos, selecting stuffing from savory options such as spicy chorizo ($5.57), beer-battered haddock ($5.33), steak ($6.29), and mahi-mahi ($6.89). Bellies boycotting carbs can opt for a serving of shrimp skewers with pineapple salsa, jalepeño jelly, and rice ($10.24) or make a carb compromise with a pepperjack-and-poblano-smothered salsa burger served on pita bread with fresh pico de gallo, lettuce, and sweet-potato fries ($9.63).
Cooks at Juanita's Mexican Kitchen prepare dishes fresh each day such as burritos wrapped in soft flour tortillas and deep-fried chimichangas. The restaurant also features 15 combination platters stocked with a sampling of fajitas, quesadillas, and enchiladas. Behind the full bar, staff members shake up margaritas and dispense cold brews into pint glasses.
The chefs at Coyote Cafe take just as much pride in their presentation as they do in their food. They make plates of flautas look like sculptures and platters of grilled shrimp look like geometric mosaics. The menu of Mexican specialties also holds steak fajitas, chorizo chimichangas, and chiles rellenos.
At Cozumel Grill & Tequila Bar, good food, drinks, and entertainment reward diners drawn in by the bright, laid-back atmosphere. While diners nosh on spicy barbecue wings, bartenders put out mouth fires with 40 domestic and imported beer selections and 30 types of tequila, along with a lineup of frozen drinks and specialty cocktails. Chefs bake corn tortilla-based chicken or beef enchiladas with cheese and ranchero sauce, and satisfy vegetarians or reformed steak knives with equally tempting eats such as grilled veggie tacos with roasted red peppers and goat cheese. The restaurant is housed in an historic carriage house, where brick walls and a cobblestone-like floor create a pleasant contrast against party lights and multiple TVs. During warmer months, patrons entertain themselves by listening to live music on the patio, while winter's howls are drowned out by the cheers of pool or darts players and the exuberant zither music that mysteriously emanates from the cozy fireplace.