Drawing on his experience as an artist, Pablo Esparza festoons the walls of his restaurant with a rotating display of work from local artists and framed prints of his own black-and-white photography. He also taps into 20 years of restaurant experience, staffing his kitchen with cooks who skillfully grill carne asada, assemble torta sandwiches, and wrap tortillas around beef, rice, and beans according to his specifications and the whims of a giant magic 8 ball. Bartenders mix custom cocktails and dispense brews from behind the full bar, and diners croon out hits during karaoke nights or dance to tunes from live DJs.
From the moment you pull up, it’s not hard to tell that Don Juan’s Romantic Mexican Food opened in 1966. A certain brand of flashy midcentury Americana lights up every inch of the stucco building, declared a Grand Prairie Significant Landmark by the city's historical commission. Hand-painted signs—one shaped like a gargantuan sombrero—advertise “luncheons” and “dinners.” The menu hasn’t changed much, either: for more than 45 years, the cooks have been making chili, hot sauce, guacamole, and many other ingredients from scratch using the same recipes the founder perfected when the restaurant first opened. Tacos, burritos, and tamales join Tex-Mex favorites such as enchiladas, chili con queso, and taco salad in a deep-fried shell. For dining on the go or on the lam, the restaurant sports a drive-thru (one of the first in town) in addition to a robin’s-egg-blue counter with matching swivel stools.
For more than 15 years, the cooks at Beto's Mexican Restaurant have been using family recipes to craft traditional Mexican dishes remixed with Texan inspiration. Patrons may kick-start their meals with a batch of guacamole, which a server will prepare right at the table, before moving onto bigger eats such as a hand-rolled and fried poblano pepper packed with beef, monterey jack cheese, and caramelized onions. A seven-member list of margaritas, each named after a Mexican city, helps to cool tongues set aflame from overzealous salsa-sampling. Fueling more than just bellies, Beto's Mexican Restaurant also pumps goodness into the community by hosting fundraisers and offering scholarships to college-bound high-school seniors.
Orbs of freshly made dough chug along the lustrous metallic conveyor belts of Marquez Bakery and Tortilla Factory's enormous tortilla-making mechanism, polka-dotting the chainlink pathways as they're flattened, baked, and morphed into the eatery's trademark fare. The chefs at the family bakery load the disks with traditional Mexican meats, such as chorizo and chicharrón, by hand, whisper "goodbye" to each morsel, and send them off to catered events or the onsite restaurant. They also sate sweet teeth with meticulously constructed custom cakes, harking back to founder Jose Marquez's legacy of selling donuts, pies, and sweet bread from his own home.
Rodriguez's fresh-baked "pan dulce" includes Mexican sweets such as cinnamon cookies, fruit-filled turnovers, gingerbread cookies, and vanilla-flavored azucarado pastries. Earning acclaim for its dinner fare as well, the restaurant's house-made tortillas are so popular they're sold in sold in dozens of grocery stores across Oregon and Idaho?perfect for shoppers looking to make their own tacos or replace an old mousepad.
For a Tex-Mex experience that feels decidedly urban, downtown lunchgoers and happy hour enthusiasts head to casual Iron Cactus, located in the thick of the city’s hustle and bustle on Main Street. Alongside expected dishes like chile con queso, fajitas, quesadillas and carnitas street tacos, diners will also find crispy Baja fish tacos, New Mexico-style pork enchiladas with salsa verde and cornbread-crusted fish with jalapeño and mushroom cream sauce. Rustic brick walls adorned with folky art and cushy, bright-colored booths make a comfortable perch from which to sip on potent margaritas – concocted with your choice of several dozen tequilas, ranging from budget-friendly to extravagant – while signature cocktails like the El Corazon, served with tequila and fresh prickly pear purée, make for a delicious dinner companion as well.