The Taco Surf empire grew from the dream of a father and son who, in 1988, decided to found a restaurant that captured the distinctive flavors as well as the festive spirit of Baja California. Basing the menu on generations-old family recipes, the duo stick to tradition by making everything from crispy tortilla chips to tamales in-house. Charbroiled flank steak, slow-cooked pork, and grilled chicken appear throughout the menu; however, the ocean's influence is unmistakably prominent. The iconic Baja tacos arrive brimming with breaded white fish and drizzled with a signature spicy Baja sauce, which the restaurant generously sells by the bottle and by the thimble.
Los Patios emerged victorious from the San Clemente Salsa Challenge not just once, but three times, in 2006, 2007, and 2012. Take a quick glance at the eatery's menu, however, and it's clear that its cooks have mastered far more than just salsa. From chicken tostadas and pastor tacos to veggie fajitas severed on sizzling plates, all the classics of Mexican cuisine are accounted for, all made without additives such as lard, MSG, or magic beans. The culinary team's creative seafood dishes, meanwhile, are anything but standard, with options such as lobster-stuffed enchiladas and shrimp saut?ed in a tequila-spiked garlic butter sauce. Aguas frescas, sangria, and Mexican beer complement the south-of-the-border feasts, which can unfold in a colorful dining room adorned with sarapes (traditional Mexican shawls) or outside on the dog-friendly patio.
For three generations and counting, the Jimenez family has welcomed guests to El Mariachi Restaurant. There they prepare plates chock-full of traditional Mexican cuisine and house specialties infused with the flavors of cilantro, lime, and jalape?os. The molcajete showcases a mound of carne asada, shrimp, and grilled cactus served in a stone bowl, and the grilled salmon is doused in a bright sauce made from tequila and lime.
However, the restaurant also gives diners a feast for the eyes. The eatery is awash in hand-painted murals of life in Mexico, which sprawl across virtually every inch of wall space that's not already covered by gleaming wood paneling. Carved wood pillars support the roof when its psychiatrist isn't available, and strings of holiday lights reflect off stained-glass windows, making them glimmer with life.