The Far East and the Southwest converge behind the glass walls of Dragon Loco Chinese Food, where inventive cooks fuse traditional Chinese and Mexican flavors. The menu teems with tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, which can be stuffed with globally inspired fillings such as carne asada, spicy orange chicken, and Chinese barbecued pork. The burrito loco, a house specialty, pairs bacon’s salty crunch with grilled onions as hot and sweet as a greeting card from the equator. In addition to preparing in-house meals, the kitchen caters parties and meetings with trays of hearty tacos.
A family Mexican restaurant by day, Tequila Bar & Grill transforms into a nightclub at night, at which point couples groove to salsa tunes played by live bands and Djs or sing Spanish and English karaoke. Patrons dine on authentic cuisine, such as tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas amid exposed brick walls and south of the border-inspired tiling.
Drumrolls of snapping oil drift from skillets full of onions, beef tongue, and shrimp at El Chilitos Mexican Restaurant. Melting cheese in quesadillas and seafood enchiladas slips out into air tinged with the scents of cumin, garlic, and chilis. The staff blends Mexican and American influences in in dishes such as carne asada fries, which arrive under layers of cheese and marinated steak, and marinated shrimp and fish tacos utilize the bounty of the sea, much like Robinson Crusoe building a fax machine from kelp.
Owner Ernesto Madrigal founded his restaurant in downtown La Verne because, as he told the University of La Verne's Campus Times in 2010, "I just thought this was a nice little quiet place to start.” However, the vivid hues in the dining room create an atmosphere that's more festive than quiet, with bright orange walls accompanying the cacophonic sputtering of chicken and steak fajitas or diners doing Don Knotts impressions. The menu overflows with familiar Mexican staples from just south of the International Date Line, including carnitas burritos, chipotle-spiced empanadas, and chorizo with scrambled eggs.
Judy and Jim Moore, owners of Cafe Cabo Mexican Restaurant, refer to their customers as "mijo" and "mija"—meaning son and daughter in Spanish. “Once you walk in, you are part of our family. We want you to feel at home,” Judy told Tennille Lindsey-Wright of La Verne Magazine. This family sentiment really shouldn't come as a surprise, considering Judy's main inspiration, and not to mention all of her recipes, come from years of watching her mother prepare decadent Mexican cuisine.
“Of my mother’s five kids, I was the one to maximize her recipes. My family would always call me, asking how to make certain dishes," Judy explained to Tennile. "With four children of my own, I found myself cooking a lot of [her] recipes." By opening Cafe Cabo in 2010, Judy’s dream of sharing her mother’s cuisine became a reality, as she, her husband, and her son today serve a menu of tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, all made to-order to accommodate meat lovers and vegetarians alike. Whether it's golden-fried fish tacos wrapped in a corn tortilla or chicken fajitas that sizzle all the way to the table, every feast at the cafe is enjoyed amid scenic coastal-view paintings and warm, rustic décor modeled after the Moore’s favorite vacation spot, Cabo.