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.
The flavors found in El Chico’s enchiladas and fajitas are a tasty testament to what the Mexican eatery does best: cultivating a menu that bustles with authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes. Fajitas provide a savory meal for two, with flour tortillas embracing veggies and chicken, beef, or a combination of the two with the gusto of a bear giving a bear hug. Or opt to reward tongues with enchiladas, which accentuate a variety of proteins with slick coats of cheese and sauce. The spicy beef of Mama’s Favorite enchiladas plays nicely with the fiery nature of chili con carne, and the Top Shelf fajita enchiladas capture rare glimpses of grilled fajita steak and ranchera sauce frolicking on the plate. Avocado enchiladas are also on hand for sets of vegetarian cravings.
The chefs at La Salsa Grille infuse dishes with the traditional flavors of Mexico, preparing items fresh daily. An assemblage of appetizers line stomachs with culinary samplings such as the tostada nachos—three tostadas topped in beans, taco meat, and melted cheddar served with chalices of pico de gallo, guac, and liquid humility. Dinner entrees highlight masterworks such as the carne asada, an 8-ounce thinly sliced chuck served beside rice, beans, avocado, and spicy sauce. Instead of looping Chicken Run on Blu-ray, the pollo verde satiates poultry cravings with a grilled chicken breast drizzled in salsa verde and cheese, complimented by rice and chef vegetables. The lunch menu brims with tortilla-wrapped confections such as the fajitas, stocked with 6 ounces of chicken or beef and mounds of grilled bell peppers and onions, or the two-hand-necessitating big burrito, surging with chicken or ground beef slathered in cheese or chili sauce.