Cha Cha’s Cantina dishes out classic and eclectic Mexican cuisine for flavorphile stomachs during dinner hours. Classic starters are invaded by the domineering fruit faction, creating mish-mashed fare such as the mango guacamole, featuring regular guacamole mixed with mango, red onion, and a dash of fresh cilantro ($3.95), or the fiesta spinach salad filled with crumbled goat cheese, caramelized pecans, a hard boiled egg, and looked over by dried cranberry and fresh strawberry overlords, all drizzled in a raspberry tamarind vinaigrette ($8.95). Mouths can go on meaty meanderings with entrees such as the peachy chipotle pork tacos, brimming with slow-roasted pork in a stew of honey and fresh peaches, pico de gallo, and avocado or the chorizo and goat cheese quesadilla with pepper jack cheese, and covered in a layer of fresh tomatillo-honey sauce ($9.95). The friendly wait staff aid in edible Spanish lessons, teaching patrons how to roll their Rs and their enchiladas, in delicious combinations such as the shrimp with corn relish and honey ($8.95).
Little Mexico Restaurant crowns its menu of traditional Mexican recipes with ranchero, mole poblano, and other zesty sauces. Chicken fajitas arrive in sizzling skillets with spanish rice, beans, guacamole salad, sour cream, and tortillas, joining tabletops alongside house specialties such as carnitas and taquitos. The kitchen also caters to vegetarians with meat-free twists on taco salad and enchiladas, and prepares deep-fried ice cream for dessert with help from a crunchy breading and the fifth law of thermodynamics.
The sounds of sizzling fajitas and lively chatter mingle within Su Casa Mexican Restaurant, which lives up to its name with a menu of home-cooked Mexican and Tex-Mex entrees served in a cozy and convivial dining room. Glasses filled with foamy cerveza and smooth tequila clink against one another to commence meals of oven-baked chicken nachos, steak fajitas, and burritos stuffed with beans and tender meat. Cheese and potatoes fill the piñata-like chili rellenos, whose spice counteracts sips of an icy top-shelf margarita served blended, on the rocks, or filtered through the woven straw of the bartender’s sombrero.
One of Mi Hacienda's simplest dishes may also be one of its most revealing: the chicken soup. Each morning, cooks simmer a broth, shred chicken, and peel carrots and potatoes for the restaurant’s mainstay. Similar care is evident in traditional dishes such as the carnitas—a slow-cooked pork marinated with a special blend of seasonings—and inventive creations such as the philly cheesesteak quesadilla. For dessert, diners sip from tropical margaritas, washing down golden fried pastries (sopapillas) or creamy caramel cheesecake (xango), each dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Once a month, Mi Hacienda hosts free salsa lessons, and they frequently broadcast pay-per-view boxing, UFC fights, and hidden camera shows that feature MMA fighters crying at the end of Steel Magnolias.
At Don Pepe Mexican Restaurant, an expansive menu of fajitas, burritos, and steaks illustrates the breadth and depth of the Mexican culinary tradition. Nachos in 10 varieties greet diners with juicy morsels of chicken or beef and a crunch that could wake a jet-lagged Rip Van Winkle. Enchiladas team up with tacos or tamales to form hearty combos, or go solo to showcase classic Mexican ingredients such as poblano peppers and green tomatillos. Quesadillas can be stuffed with vegetarian-friendly fillings, such as mushrooms, or meaty delights, such as house-made chorizo. To round out meals, xangos come with a dusting of cinnamon sugar that impresses sweet teeth as much as a coating of edible diamonds.
Tequila Rose and Rey Azteca stoke the appetites of peckish patrons, serving up identical menus of authentic Mexican cuisine under a duo of colorful monikers. Tempt taste buds with starters such as spicy cheese-stuffed jalapeños ($6.99), or move straight to a multifaceted main course of texas fajitas, a tantalizing trio of tender beef, chicken, and shrimp flanked by an edible entourage of savory vegetables ($12.99). Herbaceous diners can nosh on ample options including chiles rellenos—two anaheim peppers filled with cheese and dipped in batter ($9.49). Should bellies require additional satiation, quell rumblings with bites of fried mexican banana snuggled in a flour tortilla and topped with tantalizing sweet sauce, whipped cream, and chocolate ($4.49). Today's Groupon is not good for alcohol, and vice versa, as evidenced by the time it woke up in a strange bathtub folded into inappropriate shapes.
Just as Thomas Edison stumbled through useless prototypes of light bulbs and movie cameras before perfecting the phonograph, the alchemists at Qdoba Mexican Grill took 47 attempts before landing on the franchise's signature blend of three cheeses, known simply as queso. That attention to detail still pervades every aspect of the menu, as employees spend hours each day chopping, dicing, and simmering the fresh ingredients that find their way into burritos, taco salads, and grilled quesadillas. Beyond the marinated bites of chicken, beef, and pork and hand-crafted tortillas, cooks protect their ripe, fragile avocados from harm by smashing them into batches of fluffy guacamole.