Upon relocating to Maryland from Los Angeles, the owners of Tortacos immediately noticed one thing—the lack of quality tacos. They’ve done their best to right this wrong by crafting California-inspired tacos whose corn tortillas are piled with toppings such as pico de gallo, cilantro, radishes, lime, and house onion mix. Diners can get their tacos with fish, or with one of five other meats—including charbroiled steak and braised pork—that also lay the foundation for burritos, quesadillas, or sopes. Tortas, the other half of the eatery’s name, are Mexican-style sandwiches that layer meat, beans, and avocado between two slices of fluffy bread.
Basking steak, seafood, and vegetables in signature marinades, the cooks at Ay! Jalisco Restaurant enliven taste buds with an array of traditional Mexican dishes. Dining parties can explore the festive setting by smelling the savory aromas and feeling the heat rise off a sizzling fajita plate stacked with fillers, such as pork ribs with a barbecue spice rub or fresh vegetables sautéed in garlic-butter sauce. Perched atop the Ay! Jalisco platter, a surfeit of chicken, beef, and butterfly or brochette shrimp fajitas ends intra-belly yodeling contests with some help from beans, guacamole, and tortillas. Ladles accent bundled bites of burrito, chimichanga, and enchilada with a choice of ranchera, green tomatillo, or red enchilada sauce. Guests can sip from the house margarita's salted brim or save the salt to melt ice sheets off their snowman's sunglasses this winter.
Perch on high-backed chairs to peruse the exhaustive menu of Latin-American flavors and start with a beefy app such as the taquitos ($8.95) or the Mexican pizza with melted cheese, guacamole, and shredded beef and chicken ($8.95). Vegetarians can advance directly to platanos con crema y frijoles ($6.95), an order of deep-fried sliced plantains sided with sour cream and beans for dipping. For heartier appetites, try an order of fajitas for two. The combo platter includes marinated steak, shrimp, chicken, and pork ribs, served with grilled veggies (tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers) and south-of-the-border toppers (guacamole and ranchera sauce), all for $31.95. For an authentic mouthful of El Salvador, stick your fork into a few pupusas ($1.75 each), cheese-stuffed corn tortillas with a choice of six fillings, served with pickled cabbage and carrots. Diners will also find a variety of burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas, and egg-centric entrees.
Samantha's Restaurant melds a variety of Latin American culinary traditions into a single menu rife with fresh seafood, sizzling fajitas, and stuffed poblano peppers. Washingtonian magazine highlighted the masitas de puerco, a traditional Havana dish of bitter orange-marinated pork, as well as the "peppy mariachi soundtrack" that fosters a lively atmosphere. As appetizers of citrus-and-ginger-infused ceviche disappear like a repossessed magic kit, diners can turn their focus to mesquite-grilled fish or a refreshing cocktail from the fully stocked bar.
The dining room at La Sandia radiates warmth and energy from colorful paneled screens, intricate metallic ceiling tiles, rustic tables, and hardwood floors. Diners at La Sandia enjoy a fun, casual atmosphere with attentive service; the food at La Sandia enjoys an upscale preparation and indulgent treatment where the ingredients play center stage. Warming up the stage for your meal, tender avocado mashes selflessly into a spicy guacamole ($9.50), prepared tableside. Delight in a bountiful harvest of creamy roasted corn soup ($7) and huitlacoche-mushroom quesadillas ($8.50) as you settle in for the show. The corn tortillas, handcrafted from corn masa and cooked on a traditional Mexican griddle, headline the three beer-battered tilapia tacos with rice and beans ($14), and poblanos play versatile characters in chile relleno (battered poblano stuffed with three cheeses and sautéed veggies with refried beans, $13) and chicken mole poblano (with Mexican rice and fried plantains, $16.50). Slow-roasted chipotle barbecue ribs ($19.50) or grilled salmon (with mildly spiced citrus marinade, chile morita-tomatillo-mango salsa, and corn tamal, $18) invigorate the palate with rich flavors and textures that are sure to do a little crowd surfing as everyone at the table has a taste.