Sunlight pours in through the many large windows at Fajitas Mexican Restaurant, illuminating booths and tables piled with classic Mexican dishes. The eatery starts meals with baskets of fresh, homemade chips, as well as frosty beers and margaritas. Colorful yellow plates house flour or corn tortillas piled with carne asada, picadillo, chicken, chorizo, or chili relleno. Breakfast brings in classics such as huevos rancheros or chilaquiles, and dinner plates offer up tamales or burritos stuffed with meats and veggies and topped with melted cheese. Homemade sopes join the culinary ranks with their bases of fried masa, nestling beside tortas, tostadas, and burgers.
Diners can practically hear the gulf tides lapping on a Mexican beach as they read the menu at Burrito Mex, whose myriad seafood dishes feature ingredients ranging from red snapper and octopus to oysters and shrimp. Whether fried, breaded, or drenched with spicy diabla sauce, the aquatic creations stop stomachs from rumbling loud enough to trigger lightning. Back on land, the kitchen also crafts traditional Mexican entrees such as burritos filled with carne asada steak, al pastor pork, or—for the more adventurous—tongue. To wash down their feasts, patrons can sip fruity margaritas or feel like powerful diplomats by clinking bottles of domestic and imported beer.
Blooming with flower boxes and bright umbrellas, La Fiesta's street-side patio is nearly as large as its recently renovated, banquet-like dining room. The 20-year-old kitchen holds down Chicago's far southwest corner as it carves juicy steak into carne asada and fajita platters, deep-fries red snapper, perch, and shrimp, and stuffs peppers and tamales with savory, spicy fillings. Behind the full bar, tequila masters blend 10 different kinds of margaritas with a range of liquors and fruits.
Carnitas Don Rafa's owner Rafael Vega transforms the knowledge he inherited from his father, a butcher turned restaurateur, into a menu of homestyle Mexican fare. Staffers lovingly stuff tortillas and tortas with a variety of proteins, including carne asada, milanesa, or the house specialty, the eponymous carnitas, made from a family recipe. A parking lot next door keeps faithful chariots and dune buggies safe as patrons pick up their doggie bags.