At Baja Fresh, spice-yearning patrons can swing by to sample comforting casual fare without the hassle of building a catapult powerful enough to reach Mexico. Grab a burrito or taco served inside the stuffed blanket of a tortilla, or get a bowlful of delectable insides with the shell-less version—or a combination of both. The meats that make up each meal are never frozen and are all natural and hormone free. Optional ingredients to lay the groundwork for handheld feasts include fire-grilled or charbroiled chicken and steak, slow-roasted pork carnitas, beans and cheese, and specialty seafood options; a vegetarian-friendly version includes peppers, chilies, and onions layered with freshly simmered beans, cheese, and pico de gallo.
The chefs at Red Pepper Grill blend Mexican and California cuisines on a solid menu backed up with a full bar. Diners can kick off meals with house tortilla chips and salsa made fresh daily. Appetizer selections include gooey chicken quesadillas or nachos coated in cheese, beans, sour cream, and guacamole. House special entrees include crisp flautas, rolled corn tortillas that are stuffed with shredded meat. Chile verde burritos swim in a green sauce with rice and beans, and the enchilada Mazatlan holds prawns sautéed in a garlic sauce and topped with melted jack cheese. The heat of salsas, spicy marinades, and memories of family tire-fires can be quenched by a huge list of margaritas, wine, beer, and tequila.
After 15 years spent honing his restaurateur skills across Mexico, San Francisco, and San Jose, Julian Rios was ready to open the doors to his own eatery in 1992. According to the Sunnyvale Sun, there was just one problem: he didn't know how to cook. That's when his sister stepped in, crafting a menu of Mexican favorites that flourished in the hands of Julian's experienced chef, who is well versed in the secrets of Mexican cooking. Julian eventually learned his way around the kitchen thanks to this chef, adding cookery to a litany of skills that already included bussing tables, manning the register, and dicing sombreros. "If you don't do these things, you could lose your business," Rios told the Sunnyvale Sun, "I have worked too hard to let my business go down."
Low-cholesterol vegetable oil anchors every dish on the approximately 50-item menu, which incorporates loads of veggies and lean meats into traditional Mexican and seafood dishes served à la carte or on the buffet line. Vibrant margaritas and creative desserts scrawl an appetizing epilogue across the evening's menu, where cheesecake chimichangas drown in strawberry sauce, sugar, and whipped cream.
Though it first opened its doors way back in 1977, La Paloma still garners plenty of praise. Metro active, for instance, named it one of Silicon Valley's best Mexican eateries for 2013.
Now run by third-generation restaurateurs, La Paloma continues showcasing the classic Mexican flavors that made it popular, from shrimp fajitas served on sizzling skillets to tortas filled with steak, avocado, and grilled onions. Cooks cater to vegetarian diners as well with such dishes as enchiladas stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, and almonds. To help wash down each bite, bartenders craft plentiful libations, including a French take on margaritas made with tequila and Cointreau liqueur.
Mexicali Grill whips up authentic, fresh Mexican fare alongside specialty margaritas in a vibrant, open-kitchen setting. The menu kicks off with hunger-slaking appetizers such as quesadillas smothered in monterey jack and crammed with sizzling steak and smooth guacamole ($9.95). Fill gustatory voids with the doublewide enchiladas sulzas—two enchiladas stuffed with tomatillo sauce and chicken breast and coupled with rice and refrito beans ($11.50). Snuggled inside a tortilla sleeping bag, the burrito de camarones brims with rock shrimp sautéed in fresh roasted garlic ($11.75).
At Mondo Burrito, cooks prepare every menu item in front of your eyes. They squash avocados to make guacamole, deep-try tortillas to create chips, and hand-trim each cut of meat to minimize fat. Although they take pride in their simmered pork tacos and mahi-mahi burritos, they also prepare several vegetarian dishes, such as grilled veggie burritos and cheese quesadillas. To elevate the dining experience, the restaurant’s hosts seat guests in an air-conditioned dining room or at an enclosed outdoor patio.