The fragrance of sizzling spiced meats waft through the brightly hued dining room of Azteca Restaurant and Cantina, enticing diners as they sit at cozy tables and pull cornflower-blue napkins into their laps. Helmed by owners James Burick and Mario Orellana, Azteca Restaurant and Cantina titillates taste buds with generous portions of unusual yet authentic Tex-Mex eats. Diners can rev up their eating engines with the tamales de elote filled with creamy sweet corn before moving on to a beef chimichanga, a roundup of beef, beans, guacamole, and cheese in a tortilla big enough to blanket a replica of the Aztec pyramids. A sizzling plate of lobster-tail fajitas comes with chicken and beef, whereas the enchiladas monterrey provide a meat-free option resplendent with cheese and ranchero sauce.
Samantha's Restaurant melds a variety of Latin American culinary traditions into a single menu rife with fresh seafood, sizzling fajitas, and stuffed poblano peppers. Washingtonian magazine highlighted the masitas de puerco, a traditional Havana dish of bitter orange-marinated pork, as well as the "peppy mariachi soundtrack" that fosters a lively atmosphere. As appetizers of citrus-and-ginger-infused ceviche disappear like a repossessed magic kit, diners can turn their focus to mesquite-grilled fish or a refreshing cocktail from the fully stocked bar.
Featuring authentic Mexican cuisine fashioned with fresh ingredients, Pica Taco's menu offers a feast of traditional burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and more. Take a seat in either of Pica Taco's casual dining establishments and sip a cold Corona while munching on one of eight soft or crunchy tacos, such as carnitas, pollo, or barbacoa ($2.25 each). A supreme burrito ($8.50) with an order of chips and salsa ($2.75) or plantains ($2.50) silences stomachs long enough for you to get in a word and order another Tecate with lime. The menu makes room for 10 vegetarian items such as the cheese enchilada, veggie taco salad, or veggie sandwich ($6.50 each). Breakfasters can make a fast break for a cheese bagel ($3.25); huevos rancheros ($5.25); or breakfast burrito ($4.50) to prepare themselves for skipping the morning chores.
Chicken Tortilla plates up a sumptuous menu of slow roasted fare, decorating tonguescapes with homemade Peruvian tastes. Ravage a whole rotisserie chicken with a pair of sides such as rice and beans, steak fries, or the South American equivalent—fried yucca ($15.95). Other Peruvian palate pleasers include classic tacos ($9.99), tostitos ($2.95), and gourmet jumbo 12-inch burritos, packed full of beans, sauces, chili corn, and choice of steak or chicken ($8.95). For a relaxing dining experience complete with an accommodating staff, customers can dine in the restaurant's cozy interior, and those searching for an aromatic chicken to use during blindfolded football matches can carry out.
The menu at Austin Grill represents more than 20 years worth of authentic, time-tested Tex-Mex favorites seasoned with 15 different homemade salsas, sauces, and dressings. A belly-filling roadhouse burrito wraps a fresh flour tortilla around seasoned ground beef and beans, all topped with a drizzle of chili con queso and served with a side of rice ($11.99 at lunch, $11.49 at dinner). Put off cumbersome decision-making and sample the country western flavors of the Joe Ely Big Combo, a medley of a grilled chicken taco, a beef barbacoa enchilada with ancho chili sauce, and a hand-rolled chicken tamale topped with Texas chili ($14.99). A multi-colored Bevo Salad blends house greens, cotija cheese, black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, corn relish, and crispy tortilla strips in tangy cilantro-lime vinaigrette ($7.99 at lunch, $9.99 at dinner). Mosey in on the weekends to lasso southern brunch specials such as the Austin eggs benedict ($11.49) and cornmeal pancakes with eggs and bacon ($9.59). Diners with more particular palates can direct their eyes toward the lengthy gluten-free menu.
El Rincon Espanol resembles the courtyard of a Spanish villa, with huge arched windows shedding rays on tile floors, hanging greenery, and framed prints of bullfighters. Whether seated at a wooden table around a pitcher of sangria or at the marble-topped bar with a margarita, guests can dig into Spanish and Latin American dishes such as sizzling paellas and Peruvian-style flank steak. The enormous menu holds options at just about every level of fanciness, from a plate of nachos supreme all the way up to the lobster thermidor, stuffed with shrimp, scallops, and crab. And then there are the tapas: 100 small plates of poultry, grilled meats, seafood, and veggies. Upstairs, the restaurant beckons revelers with weekly live entertainment. Named "The Cave" for its low lighting and status as a popular after-work hangout for spelunkers, the space hosts disco dance nights and, occasionally, live Salvadorian music.