The gastronomic maestros at Machete Bar and Grill whip up authentic Mexican dishes in a bright and festive setting. Silence a growling stomach or snoring incisor with a plate of homemade chili rellenos filled with chicken, shrimp, cheese, or beef ($10.99). Fajita chimichangas come deep fried and plated with rice, beans, and guacamole ($9.49), while traditional quesadillas are jammed with meat and melted cheese before being doused with guac, sour cream, and pico de gallo ($9.79). The Amayas Deluxe provides a smorgasbord of grilled shrimp, chicken-fajita meat, and grilled quail ($14.99) to slay fuming hunger dragons as dashingly as Beowulf trying to impress a new girlfriend. Machete Bar and Grill’s brightly colored walls sport the work of local artists, giving rambunctious eyes something better to do than wink suggestively at impressionable salt shakers.
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.
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.
For the last 25 years, Ricardo and Michelle Avila have been dabbling with spices and tenderizing meats, meticulously perfecting the recipes that populate Mextopia’s menu. From brisket gorditas to guisado de puerco—a house specialty of braised pork loin in chili cascabel sauce—the traditional and Tex-Mex entrees pair with a roster of beers from Mexico and Central and South America. During happy hour on Thursdays and Saturdays, the draft beers are served with complimentary plates of sweet-and-spicy bacon in an effort to provide the community more protein in preparation for hibernation. The savory-sweet combos can be enjoyed on the outdoor patio or inside, where the purple glow of neon lights washes over the granite-topped bar and warm orange walls cultivate a festive atmosphere.
Acclaimed chef Abraham Salum opened chic regional Mexican spot Komali in early 2011, just one door down from his eponymous Uptown restaurant Salum. A far cry from the gloppy, cheese-smothered Tex-Mex that’s so popular around Dallas, the food at Komali is rustic yet refined, and just about everything is made by hand including the corn tortillas and tamales. The sleek, minimal dining room with its white walls, cushy banquettes and concrete floors keeps the focus on the food; think braised pork cheeks with salsa verde and hominy grits, chicken mole, quail stuffed with huitlacoche bread pudding or grilled flank steak with cilantro chimichurri. Lunch means tacos, sopes or tostadas with a variety of fillings, from carnitas to crispy fried snapper – and don’t miss the sugar-dusted churros for dessert.