Authentic, spicy dishes and crisp beverages await diners at Xochimilco Authentic Mexican Restaurant. Boasting two different menus for day and night, Xochimilco's kitchens cater to light eaters with smaller dishes such as taco salads or cactus-stuffed quesadillas, and hearty appetites with salsa-drenched platters at dinner. Chunky guacamole full of onion and garlic set the stage for a flavorful meal ahead, which might include grilled fish tacos or sizzling fajitas served with hand-made flour tortillas.
A piping hot pocket of corn dough stuffed with tender pork and slathered with verde sauce and cheese. This is the homemade pork tamale at Felipe's Mexican Restaurant, and what a sight it is to behold. The dishes on Felipe's menu have stayed the same for the most part in its 30 years of existence. Since Paul and Adela Lee—who met while working there—took over as owners in 1988, they have updated the menu but only slightly. They also moved the original restaurant to its current location and opened another in Folsom. One thing hasn't changed, however. Crowds still come from all over to try Felipe's famous tamales and chimichangas.
In 1962, Alberto Heredia and his wife, Carmen, flung open the doors of Carmelita's Restaurant, introducing a menu of tried and true family recipes from Puebla, Mexico. Now, a fourth generation of the Heredia family helps marinate carnitas and blend avocados into guacamole at two Carmelita's locations. The dining rooms, which are bedecked in vibrant knickknacks and paintings, let diners bask in bright colors without getting yelled at by a judge for bringing a kaleidoscope to court. Against the electrically hued backdrop, mariachi bands play on special occasions, their trumpets rising in warm spirals above fiddles and guitars.
A small menu of healthfully prepared favorites is accented by mouthwatering daily specials at Palenque, where fresh ingredients flourish and home-style recipes are always en vogue. The enchiladas verdes come filled with either chicken or cheese and are adorned with homemade tomatillo sauce, offering a flavorful throne for cheese, onions, and sour cream ($9.50). Lead-footed drivers on the burrito superhighway can cruise into tasty tunnels of beans, cheese, rice, and salsa, with their choice of al pastor, asada, carnitas, or chicken in the coveted passenger seat ($5.10). Refresh with a Mexican beer ($3.25) or two as you chat with friends, or venture out to converse with one of Palenque's affable staffers and potentially find your long-lost giggle twin.
On Friday nights, a mariachi band fills Kico's Mexican Food with the trills of a guitarrista. But Friday nights aren't the only time the restaurant strikes a festive mood. Terra cotta colored walls, glittering ornaments, and pastoral paintings add a touch of brightness every day of the week—a pleasing backdrop for the menu of authentic dishes that the kitchen has honed for more than 30 years. The food draws diners from all over the area who come for classic items, such as homemade tamales and carnitas, made according to family recipes as opposed to instructions on the back of an old comic book.
The chefs at Plaza Jalisco make all the classics—carne asada tacos, spicy chicken fajitas, plates piled with vegetables and seafood. They toss sautéed shrimp into giant burritos, layer fish fillets into tacos, and fill enchiladas with a blend of spinach, mushrooms, and salsa blanca. They serve many different styles of seafood, with the siete mares—or the Seven Seas—pairing prawns, octopus, shrimp, scallops, fish, mussels, and crab simmered in their own juices. To complement these dishes, they have a full drink menu featuring a range of tequilas. These can be blended into house margaritas or enjoyed by themselves for a drink as elegant and energizing as a gloved slap in the face.
Some people could just eat tacos all day. And Tacos Y Mas helps make it possible with signature tacos alongside special breakfast tacos that incorporate scrambled eggs. The Mexican grill’s staff load their double-tortilla tacos with classics such as chorizo and eggs or one of their signature blends such as the cowboy, whose smoked jalapeno, beef sausage, and egg mixture secured the taqueria a spot on D-Magazine’s list of Best Breakfast Tacos in Dallas in 2010. While they do serve up their breakfast dishes all day, they can also fill tortillas with more traditional Mexican favorites such as shredded chicken in a chipotle sauce, grilled shrimp sprinkled with onion and cilantro, or the heart-healthy grilled vegetables in a chipotle salsa. But as their name suggests, they don’t just serve tacos—"mas" covers grande nachos, Cuban sandwiches, and trios of queso, guacamole, and salsa roja for guests who like dips but not decisions.