Lime green walls surround guests at Mesa Grande Taqueria as they wait in a cafeteria-style line for their turn to watch cooks create customizable Mexican dishes. Tacos, burritos, nachos, and quesadillas materialize out of the restaurant’s fresh ingredients and meats, which include grilled chicken or steak that’s been marinated in chipotle adobo sauce, or vegetarian guacamole and black beans. As they diner, guests might also notice the restaurant’s energy-efficient lighting, reusable silverware and baskets, and biodegradable to-go utensils, which help the taqueria take its commitment to staying green well past its vivid walls.
The capable chefs at the family-owned Mi Casa Mexicana guide culinary tourists southward with a menu of authentic house-made Mexican dishes in a vibrant, casual dining room. An order of chips and freshly diced salsa ($2.75) coaxes out appetites and urges them to invite an additional side of guacamole ($2.50) to the table by ordering it a drink and tossing out an alluring line. Diners saunter onto more serious satiation with house specials such as the pollo en mole ($14.95), in which rich, spicy mexican mole smothers plump poultry pieces. Chefs harbor shredded pork and beef in a fortress of toasted bread in the tortas ($6.25) and fry up scoops of ice cream ($4.75), which continues to baffle chemists around the globe.
Cooks at Juanita's Mexican Kitchen prepare dishes fresh each day such as burritos wrapped in soft flour tortillas and deep-fried chimichangas. The restaurant also features 15 combination platters stocked with a sampling of fajitas, quesadillas, and enchiladas. Behind the full bar, staff members shake up margaritas and dispense cold brews into pint glasses.
Run by the Domm family since 1990, Mo-Jo’s Tacos serves up classic Mexican fare with occasional American twists. The taqueria’s menu features classic hard ($2) and soft ($3) tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas ($4), and inflatable burritos ($4+). Ambitious devourers can tackle the Mojo burrito, a floury sleeping bag puffed up with meat, beans, rice, lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream, and olives ($5). Plates of mexican spaghetti ($4), featuring butter beans and bacon over corn bread ($4), offer comfort so deep and pervasive that it often triggers naps upon sight. Finish a hearty meal sweetly and make use of fully operational pie-serving fingers by picking up a slice of the shop’s homemade grape or elderberry pie ($2) from its self-serve fridge.
There's no hurry at Uncle Buck's BBQ. The chefs slow-cook and smoke meats such as ribs, brisket, and chicken, imbuing each plate with a tenderness that can't be rushed. Even the Old World-style pizzas have to bake inside a traditional brick oven long enough for the cheese to melt over and around the assorted toppings, such as pulled pork, sweet peppers, and garlic. Sub sandwiches and hamburgers, wings tossed in one of four sauces, and hefty steaks round out the menu of neighborhood-style American cuisine.
With its wood-paneled wainscoting and robin's-egg blue walls, the restaurant's dining area embraces the same casual, down-home charm as the menu. Outside, a wooden patio seats diners beneath an aluminum roof that provides better sun protection than a parasol slathered with sunscreen.
At Label 7, fresh ingredients such as crisp shaved fennel and gruyere cheese garnish entrees inspired by the light, healthy cuisine of California's Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Wicker chairs flank tables in the softly lit indoor dining room. Oversized white flowerboxes stand guard along the perimeter of a canal-side patio, where a brigade of umbrellas shields patrons from splashing during nearby diners’ attempts to literally wade through the wine list.