The owners of María Bonita Restaurant founded their eatery as a tribute to women, which is why they work to create a festive atmosphere to bring families together over dinner. Virginia Nava and Nydia D. Perez—the two entrepreneurs behind the eatery—leverage their almost 50 years of combined business experience to manage their Mexican restaurant. Along with their business sense, they are guided by their inspiration, the glamorous but tough Mexican movie star of yore, María Bonita.
To appeal to a range of tastes as expansive as the range needed to play the 47 movie roles Bonita played during her career, the cooks prepare diverse dishes. Fresh guacamole appetizers presage steak burritos filled with rice and black beans, and signature burgers topped with monterey jack cheese and avocado—a culinary palette worthy of the bright reds, yellows, purples, and greens that blanket the walls of the dining area. Free WiFi encourages laptop use, and every weekend live entertainment keeps diners amused while they sip house margaritas or glasses of nacho cheese.
Café Ollin's eye-catching blue exterior compels pedestrians to enter the restaurant, which serves as a vibrantly colored oasis of Mexican culture and cuisine. The extensive menu reads like a bestselling romance novel in which the main characters are all Mexican dishes, such as the signature cemita ($8–$8.50), a Puebla-style sandwich piled with cheeses, avocado, beans, chipotle and carne enchilada, bistec, or lengua (cow tongue). Tacos ($2–$3.50 each) envelop proteins, such as cecina (salted beef) and chivo enchilado (spicy goat), and full plates display the likes of four enchiladas, which are stuffed with chicken, beef, or cheese ($11), or costillas (pork ribs) in a red sauce served with cactus ($9.50). Jarritos sodas ($2) or homemade juices ($2) silently wait in the wings, anxious to find a new home on top of a table blanketed by colorful, woven cloth.
Mi Nidito's chefs blend fistfuls of spices, luring subtle aromas from dishes that eschew the use of MSG, lard, and animal-fat additives. Whole-wheat tortillas enwrap sizzling fajitas, and Yucatanese sour orange sauce is drizzled over diced chicken breast. Twenty-five different dulcet essences—such as amaretto, goji, or papaya—imbue margaritas with exciting flavors that can be combined in thousands of different iterations, delighting diners and blowing the circuits of villainous supercomputers.
A stone's throw from the theater district, Sombrero Restaurant sates pre- and postshow cravings for dramatically zesty eats. Sizzling entrees draw flavors from traditional Spanish cuisine and Mayan fish fries that remain popular on the Yucatán Peninsula. A full bar lubricates conversation throughout, and bottles of libations sparkle atop the uplit backsplash like bottled sunlight or a sports drink teeming with electricity.
Goldenrod walls and polished red wood dye the interior of Sombrero Restaurant the color of a desert sunset, replete with an overhead chandelier woven in the shape of stars. Mexican-style artwork in the same warm reds and yellows line the walls, and potted palms add pops of natural color to the milieu. When the sun's rays are strong enough to warm the atmosphere, Sombrero opens an outdoor patio for alfresco dining or spontaneous renditions of "Summertime."
The vibe at Patron Mexican Grill is decidedly party-like—happy hours, bingo nights, and bottomless sangria and margarita Mondays. It all makes for an appetizing atmosphere in which to enjoy a sizzling menu of Mexican favorites, such as grilled-chicken quesadillas, cilantro steak tacos, and a braised pork shank served over creamy poblano rice. Though both locations serve dinner, only the 43rd Street hub serves lunch, brunch, and fajitas that exist outside of time.
Dancing patrons regularly tap toes against the elegant environs of El Habanero Mexican Cocina, where chefs construct authentic Mexican dishes with a finesse that has earned a loyal following. Like Candy Land's reigning monarch, burritos, enchiladas, seafood, and steaks dress up in flavorful accessories, including jalapeño coleslaw, guajillo, and mole poblano. Behind a full bar, the chefs' cocktail-crafting brethren swirl fresh fruit juices with top-quality tequilas and vodkas to concoct margaritas, mojitos, and martinis.
A crimson booth spans the length of El Habanero Mexican Cocina's interior, cushioning diners amid exposed-brick walls and flat-screen TVs. Occasionally, a live DJ spins a spirited soundtrack to get diners dancing or crocheting atop sleek hardwood floor.