The chefs at Papi Chulo’s Mexican Restaurant get to work early every morning, firing up griddles to craft Mexican breakfast omelets and tacos. They continue to make breakfast dishes throughout the day, but switch gears to begin seasoning carne asada, pastor, and chicken to fill enchiladas, fried burritos, and tacos. As in any traditional taqueria, meats also include beef tongue, tripe, and carnitas, shredded pork generally stewed in coriander, onions, and lime. Straws dip into glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice, and Mexican sodas cool hands like a job prodding snowmen to see if they are magic.
Randy and Yvette Maldonado, the owners of Fajita Junction, know the difference that high-quality ingredients make to any recipe. “Our meat is Angus beef that is fresh and never frozen, using the inside skirt of the meat with choice or better cuts,” Randy told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. “The meat is well trimmed so it has little fat before we put it on our mesquite grill.”
Angus beef fajitas are just one of the spot's popular, made-from-scratch dishes. The chefs also make fresh tortillas for tacos filled with chicken, sausage, or mollejas, as well as rice with Mexican spices and a chicken-stock base instead of the traditional tomato. The ambiance of Fajita Junction is a draw, too: high ceilings, wood floors, and flat-screen televisions entrance eyeballs with images of sports games and football players enacting soap operas on the sidelines.
Mole sauce is traditionally made with fistfuls of dried poblano peppers and hints of chocolate. Drawing on recipes for time-tested Mexican cuisine such as this, cooks at Tequila Restaurant fill the kitchen with the clatter of pots and pans. Chimichangas and avocados stuffed with strips of beef sizzle in hot oil, and carne asada crackles against a skillet beneath slices of peppers and onions. Ranks of tequila bottles stand on a shelf behind the bar, waiting to fill margarita glasses or help write a cowboy ballad that is due the next day.
The Montes family opened its first eatery in Quer?taro, Mexico in 1978, but its members have always craved a chance to bring their delicacies across the border. That's why they opened Mol?, where they whip up everything from mini pork tacos smothered in a slow-cooked pepper sauce to enchiladas filled with chicken and sliced avocado. They even showcase their zesty flavors during breakfast with options such as a Mexican-style benedict with fried egg, refried beans, and oaxaca cheese. To complement each feast, Mol??s bartenders pour plenty of domestic and imported brews and mix libations such as tamarindo margarita.
Those passing by Tequila Coast often hear melodies played on classical guitar drift out from behind the restaurant's towering stucco walls. After walking inside, guests see a sunlit courtyard, where guitarists wander between wrought-iron balconies, a four-tiered fountain, and a Talavera tiled staircase, serenading evening diners who linger over Mexican dishes and glasses of tequila drinks. In the kitchen, chefs fold freshly made tortillas, Angus steak, and gulf-water seafood into appealing arrangements of Mexican food. Behind the lengthy bar, drink-masters dole out beer and wine under the glow of flat-screen TVs. Guests can also snap photographs amidst the restaurant's rustic decor and artwork, posing alongside friends or the plate of seven enchiladas they've been double-dared to finish.
Outside La Playa Mexican Grill, a hand-painted, sky-blue sign depicts conch shells and silver dollars, hinting at the maritime feasts that await guests inside. Fresh seafood stars in many of the house favorites, such as daily fish specials, ceviche samplers, and shrimp- and crab-stuffed enchiladas. Familiar Tex-Mex dishes round out the menu and include quesadillas, soft tacos, and burritos stuffed with beef or chicken. Diners customize a perfect margarita more than 70 types of tequila and a life-size replica of the Great Salt Lake.