Part Mexican cantina, part Irish pub, and all cop, Garcia Brogan's blends disparate cultures in both its menu and its decor, which features murals and folk art from Mexico and Ireland. Whether guests want a glass of Irish whiskey or a fine tequila, Garcia Brogan's bartenders keep the drinks flowing, pouring a river of alcohol in which tacos and shepherd's pie bob appetizingly. The restaurant hosts pub trivia nights and live Irish music on the weekends.
Mexican chefs prepare Mexican food that's served in a dining area enclosed by walls decorated with Mexican art. Wooden hot plates keep tile-topped tables and overzealous servers' heads safe from fajita skillets that emit the sounds and scents of sizzling chicken, beef, or shrimp. Patrons may enhance their authentic meals with sprinkles of salt and pepper shaken out of repurposed Coronita bottles and complement their cuisine with oversized margaritas—crafted at the wraparound bar with a selection of more than 40 tequilas.
In the dark of night, the brightly lit façades of The Fat Cactus locations glow like a beacon, beckoning diners to come and sample their classic Mexican and Tex-Mex foods. The restaurants' interiors are no less eye-catching. House-specialty fazzizzles—short for sizzling fajitas—top tables in dining rooms filled with vibrant reds and yellows. Rows of hubcaps glisten on walls next to strings of lights. And hundreds of emptied tequila bottles dangle from the ceiling, testament to the popularity of the menu's dozen specialty margaritas. For extra entertainment, musicians fill ears with their tuneful crooning every night, and a room with classic arcade games lets kids play at adult tasks, such as driving a car or helping zombies file their tax returns.
Inside Sierras, an antlered chandelier overlooks cream tile-plated tables, ocean blue floors, and walls festooned with antlered skulls and colorful plates in pale blues and vibrant reds. The meals are just as colorful, from the dollops of sour cream, pico de gallo, and chili that top a tower of homemade corn nachos to the roasted red peppers, sweet corn, and Monterey jack cheese that pops out of burritos.
At Acitrón, chefs elevate traditional Mexican mainstays to bistro-level sophistication. Like the world’s most edible bionic man, each dish is assembled by a crack team using locally sourced produce, meats, and seafood, with menu items including tilapia fish tacos and the crepas de rajas poblanas stuffed with grilled poblano strips, corn kernels, yellow squash, zucchini, and sour cream. Meals unfold in a dining room decked with hardwood floors, floral artwork, and sparkling granite tables topped with flickering candles. Shielded by a basket of fresh limes, a full bar slings libations including margaritas, specialty cocktails, and tequila drinks. Acitrón’s scratch-made desserts also add sweet punctuation to meals with bites including flan, tres leches, and chocolate tamales topped with Mexican-vanilla ice cream.
Guadalajara, nestled in the state of Jalisco, was the birthplace of many of the flavors used in Mexican food. Those influences shine through in the recipes at Taqueria Mexico, where the chefs draw on family recipes brought by over from the inventive city. The dishes have helped earn the eatery very good to excellent ratings on Zagat.
As at any good taqueria, the gorditas, tacos, tortas, and burritos can be stuffed with a wide range of meats and veggies. Carnitas, pork traditionally slow cooked with green chilies, is nearly as tender as steamed beef al vapor. Lengua, or beef tongue, is also a time-tested taqueria meat. And like the dependents section of a scarecrow’s taxes, the eatery’s quesadillas brim with squash.
Before he could call himself a master of Mexican cooking, chef Jim Fahey knew what he had to do. He went straight to the source, traveling extensively throughout Mexico and picking up new skills wherever he could—in restaurants, at street vendors’ carts, and even in the kitchens of local homes. After more than 30 years as a chef, Fahey has found what it takes to craft Mexican food the right way. His discoveries abroad compelled him to open Habanero’s Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar, where he crafts dishes that are healthy, fresh, and simple. Take, for example, his guacamole. Whether infused with chipotle or topped with salsa and Mexican cheese, every bowl of the creamy dip is made to order. The same goes for the enchiladas and burritos, the latter of which can only reasonably be eaten with a knife and fork or two sharpened oars. Fahey is also an expert in tequila, as his menu of nearly 100 premium variations will attest. The agave spirits are served in margaritas, flights, or shot glasses.