From the outside, the combination of Don Juan Mexican Restaurant's Mission-style structure and neon-purple signs hints at both a family restaurant that showcases Mexican, Southwestern, and Spanish cuisine as well as popular spot for nighttime lounging. Warm candlelight flickers atop clothed tables as the wait staff drops off plates of chillies rellenos, paella, or cilantro-lime salmon, culinary traditions that garnered notoriety from Massapequa Patch. After the sun sets and they turn back into humans, visitors arrive to celebrate nights on the town by sipping margaritas made from freshly squeezed fruit juice on an open-air patio. Vintage Mexican posters and colorful artwork line the earthy, clay-colored walls, which creates a homey yet elegant backdrop for feasts of cheesy enchiladas suizas or creamy custard flan.
A stunning woman stands offering a basket of guavas, mangoes, and prickly pineapples in her outstretched arms. Behind her, a roaring waterfall spills into a crystal-blue lagoon, on the outskirts of which sky-high trees shelter sprouting vegetables. Hand-painted murals such as these span the walls of Sante Fe Tequila's elegant dining room, where Mexican and Latin plates line tables like colorful brushstrokes on a canvas.
Rife with modern creative touches, the menu bristles with dishes such as whole deboned fresh-caught fish and shrimp and mussels sautéed in white wine. Quality takes precedent over haste as traditional ceviche slow-cooks in lime and skirt steak marinates for a full day in Patrón tequila—all to complement amply stuffed chilies, burritos, fajitas, and enchiladas available with seafood or chicken. After a martini or margarita made with premium liquor, patrons can end the meal by grabbing one of the eatery's bright red tablecloths to distract any stray bulls they encounter on the way to the car.
Cozymels' lengthy menu beaches mouths on the coast of Old Mexico with authentic flavors from the non-central locales of America's savory southern neighbor. Get acclimated to the restaurant's food ocean by starting with a traditional sampler—chicken nachos, spinach-mushroom quesadillas, and crispy chicken flautas with guacamole, jalepeños, pico de gallo, and sour cream ($12). An entree of enchiladas los cabos prolongs your taste buds' beach party with two enchiladas stuffed with sautéed shrimp, lump crab, and cheese, then topped with poblano cream ($14). Otherwise, keep it peninsular with the Yucatán especial (shrimp and scallops sautéed with spinach, red onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and poblano chilis, topped with creamy Cancun sauce and served over Yucatán rice; $16) or venture into the spicy heart of flavor country with homestyle carne asada, a 10-ounce grilled skirt steak topped with spicy rajas mix, cheese, spicy gaujillo chili sauce, and served with Yucatán rice, refritos, and Mexican potatoes ($17). If your appetite is still struggling against the waves of savory flavors at the end of your meal, finish it off by running it over with a Cozy Cadillac margarita (Cazadores Silver, Cointreau, sweet and sour, and fresh lime; $11).
Coyote Restaurant's recently revamped menu focuses on small plates and tapas, although bigger entrees are available to stockpile in secret Swiss bank accounts. Chef Alexis Trolf cooks up starters such as frites served with curry aiolo ($5) and fry bread panzanella, a bread and salad sea of grapes, celery, and goat cheese tossed with artichokes, tomatoes, and vinaigrette ($9). Sandwiches, tacos, and paella are available in addition to the tiny yet mighty small plates, which include skirt-steak skewers with grilled olives and chimmi-churri ($9) and jumbo crab with vine-ripened tomatoes, avocado, and herb vinaigrette ($11). Large plates such as braised Monkfish ($22) ease miniature-phobics into the cool waters of tasty tidbits.
Maria’s Cantina cultivates a comfortable, homey feel from its implementation of Old-World recipes to its use of fresh, organic ingredients from nearby farms. The accommodating staff treats its customers like extended family, inviting them to lounge at sleek wooden tables as they sup on painstakingly prepared tacos, sip top-shelf margaritas, or leaf through the chef’s grandparents’ wedding album.