La Luna's menu features traditional Mexican dishes that are made from scratch, and La Luna's tables feature complimentary salsa fresca, chips, and queso. A plate of olivenos ($6.25)—large black olives stuffed with salsa and cheese, then breaded and deep-fried—prime stomach engines within the restaurant's festive atmosphere. Fajita tacos ($11.95) combine strips of marinated beef or chicken breast, and spinach quesadillas (small $9.95, large $11.95) are served with guacamole and sour cream and consist of soft tortillas filled with sautéed spinach, onions, tomatoes, and cheese. During an episode of pollo verde ($11.95), chicken gets into a humorous situation with green chiles, Monterey Jack cheese, tomatoes, and onions. Most entrees come in a moon-lite portion for those who don't want to be fuller than a purse packed with encyclopedias. Frozen margarita swirls ($7.45 each), which combine different liquors, can be sipped at the bar's multi-colored tile mosaic flat-top that guards the restaurant's bevy of tequilas.
The flavors of Mexico City get an inventive reboot at Cantina Laredo, which has specialized in modern Mexican cuisine since 1984. Over the decades, Catina Laredo locations have spread to numerous states, countries, and at least two planes of reality. Classic dishes fill the menu, including guacamole prepared tableside and hand-rolled enchiladas stuffed with everything from Angus beef to avocado and artichokes. At the same time, the chefs elevate and refine traditional flavors by creating chicken fajitas with bacon, mushrooms, and chipotle-wine sauce and filling tortas with slow-roasted pork, apricot spread, goat cheese, and fried egg.
As for drink pairings, the Casa Rita?Cantina Laredo's signature margarita?is versatile, its classic version including silver tequila with Cointreau and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice. Diners can customize their drink by adding flavors such as mango or tamarind into the mix.
Like artists adorning an edible canvas, chefs at La Cueva Grill paint fresh salsa onto the sizzling steak at the heart of their signature carne asada tacos. But pico de gallo isn’t their only artistic medium—melted cheese also oozes from quesadillas’ 12-inch flour tortillas and a 100% beef burger’s sizzling slabs of bacon. Other eats include Mexican-style hot dogs—andouille sausage doused in pico de gallo and chipotle mayo—and baskets of fresh tortilla chips ready to be slam dunked into bowls of salsa and cheese. Between bites, patrons can order up Top 40 arias from the wall-mounted digital jukebox, or sidle up to outdoor tables to reenact famous jousts with oversize patio umbrellas.
Owner Ricardo Lopez infuses each of his restaurant’s dishes with the distinctive flavors of Mexico, peppering marinated slices of chicken with chipotle spices and grilling steak with onions and peppers in an iron skillet. Couples and families sit at tables strewn with complimentary chips, queso, and salsa as they carve into cheesy chilies rellenos or fashion house-made flour tortillas into origami sombreros. Open seven days a week, the restaurant hosts special celebrations inside a private dining area and delivers orders of at least 10 entrees.
El Sombrero’s selection of traditional Mexican dishes is as wide as the brim of an actual sombrero. That’s impressive, and diners show their appreciation by spooning every last bit of guacamole and salsa ranchera from the restaurant’s scallop-edged dishware. Spicy chili sauce tops the tacos and chile relleños, which counterbalance the chill of seafood cocktails served in frosty glass goblets. El Sombrero often brings its show on the road to cater special events, such as parties and boat christenings.
In 1926, a Mexican immigrant named Adelaida Cuellar—now affectionately referred to as "Mama"—set up a tiny stand at a county fair outside Dallas, selling homemade tamales and chili con queso. The spicy specialties soon drew throngs of hungry patrons, and by 1940, she and her 12 children had transformed the stand into a café. Today, her legacy lives on at El Chico's many locations, where the staff rolls fresh tortillas into steaming enchiladas and salts the rims of towering margaritas. Waiters hoist platters of Tex-Mex favorites such as spicy beef burritos, crispy tacos, and guacamole prepared right at the table from fresh, self-puréeing avocados—a technology Mama never could have imagined during the early days of black-and-white tomatoes.