Avocados, jalapeños, and tomatillos. These staples of traditional Mexican cuisine take center stage at Tacos Mexico, where the dishes’ rustic simplicity lets their flavors shine through. Chefs nestle tender morsels of steak, carnitas, or chorizo into corn tortillas to create their signature tacos, and they also turn out more complex entrees, such as cubes of pork loin blanketed in a rich mole sauce or vegetarian options that spotlight portabella mushrooms and cacti.
As guest conclude their meals with sweet nibbles of tres leches cake or coconut flan, they can listen to the ebb and flow of a soccer match broadcast on the flat-screen television hanging over the bar. Nearby, a belt of cornflower blue wraps around the dining room’s bright, yellow walls, which bear paintings of traditional Mexican pueblos rather than Mexico’s newest moon colonies.
Lola's Mexican Kitchen serves upscale Mexican cuisine in a sleek setting with brick walls and rustic wood accents. Cooks prepare south-of-the-border specialties such as steak tacos and Mexican-style paella, plus inventive dishes such as blue-corn-crusted calamari with honey-chipotle dipping sauce. Bartenders pour beer, wine, tropical cocktails, and eight types of potent margaritas.
A bar of house-made sauces and salsas offers flavorful blends crafted from fresh ingredients that add surprise and spice to tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. The roster of fresh veggies, spiced meat, and organic house-made refried beans that form the base of all Picante! feasts are delivered daily, with unusual touches such as shredded cabbage and pickled onions providing unexpected twists in tacos more safely than hiding a brick under a tortilla. Soy cheese and whole-wheat tortillas add additional healthy touches to the lineup of vegetarian, low-carb, and low-fat options, and house-made tortilla chips deftly dip in and out of fresh guacamole and queso.
As Lou Solis—owner of Don Carmelo's Mexican Grill—sees it, going out to a Mexican restaurant is a two-part experience. The first part is the food, which he bases on authentic Mexican family recipes and whispers from aging cacti. The second component is the air of festivity. “I loved the Mexican atmosphere,” Solis says. “It’s a party. It’s a destination. It’s not just to get something to eat quickly.” And the food is easy to savor––Solis sources his ingredients from Mexican distributors and fresh deliveries of local produce and meat every day.
At Los Cabos Mexican Restaurant, everything from the cheese-infused guacamole whipped up tableside to the tender charbroiled carne asada is made from scratch every day. Each dish draws on three generations of family recipes perfected by cofounders Jose and Sergio in 25 years of combined culinary experience. The extensive menu pairs dozens of Mexican staples with more than 20 flavors of margarita, including jalapeño lime, mango, and cucumber, and recent renovations have updated Los Cabos’s interior to include an in-house tortilla station and an expanded bar area capable of hosting the entire Vienna Boys Choir
Sierra Grille proffers sizzling, savory southwestern cuisine made quick to order, forgoing canned and frozen foods and MSG for fresh fixings such as skinless chicken breast, lean steaks, fresh grilled fish, and primo produce. Peruse the menu and opt for a mexican pizza, piling a chosen meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato atop a crispy flour tortilla that spent a semester studying abroad in Italy (grilled chicken, $6.69; charbroiled steak, $7.29; shrimp, $7.29). The grilled-steak-and-crumbled-gorgonzola salad shuns carbs ($7.99), and the chicken fajita-burrita wraps up grilled fowl, guacamole, peppers, onions, and pico de gallo salsa into a flavorful yet functional paperweight ($6.39). Personal-size platters quell voracious individual cravings with steak, salmon, shrimp, or sea scallops sidekicked by rice, seasoned beans, and a small salad ($8.29).