Recently opened near the intersection of Interstate 40 and the Raleigh Beltline, Salsarita's speedily prepares all its taqueria-style Mexican meals fresh to order before customers' eyes before garnishing them with 16 saliva-stimulating condiments, such as jalapeños, cheese, two types of beans, and three kinds of salsas. Lunchers who are sick of flashing fake IDs to score free sloppy joes at the local middle school can instead savor a Salsarita's shrimp quesadilla ($5.19–$6.59), a steak burrito ($5.19–$6.59), or a zesty taco salad ($6.59) with a flurry of toppings atop a thick bed of beef. Salsarita's also caters to vegetarians with animal-absent versions of all its entrees. And for $1.99, patrons can upgrade lonely dishes to combo status, surrounding them with edible friends like a fountain drink, salsa, and stone-ground corn chips.
Bartenders pour and mix more than 30 tequilas as chefs craft elegant Tex-Mex dishes that follow Yucatán traditions. Upscale entrees range from pan-seared duck breast with roasted poblano-mashed potatoes to marinated steak swathed in pasilla and ancho chilies in hefty quesadillas. A sea of crystals cascades down a spiral-shaped chandelier that dangles above the fully stocked bar, where Cazadores and Patrón liquors head up an extensive tequila cache. Bartenders also craft numerous specialty margaritas, enhancing sips with such ingredients as fresh lime mixers and agave nectar. Patrons can feast eyes on multiple flat-screen TVs in the dining area, or venture to an outdoor patio to construct a canopy of tortilla chips that will guard against inclement weather.
A cavalcade of steamy soups and toasty empanadas marches forth from La Cocina Boricua’s kitchens, where chefs douse succulent cutlets of chicken, steak, and pork with the piquant sauces that characterize Puerto Rican cuisine. The menu bursts with fresh seafood, creamy custards, and tropical plantains that strike an accord between sweet and savory as glasses filled with sangria and flavored mojitos clink in approval. Walls flecked with traditional and modern artworks add color to the restaurant's earth-toned interior, which regularly comes to life with the sounds of live salsa music or poets reading the metered cadences of Roberto Clemente's batting averages.
The chefs at Sol Azteca Mexican Restaurant serve up chiles poblanos, tacos, and steaks that have been praised by the News & Observer and washed down by many a margarita. Combination plates offer medleys of quesadillas, enchiladas, and burritos and sweet sopapillas seal the meal at dessert.
Creating every ingredient in-house, Baja Burrito constructs burritos and tacos California–style, which typically means cooking on a soundstage, but in this case means using fresh ingredients and coastal recipes. Fish tacos and burritos dot the menu, lined with ingredients such as homemade chipotle-cream sauce, as well as fresh-made salsa sided by housemade chips.
In Munchies Mexican Bar and Grill's sunny dining room or airy outdoor patio, guests tap the menu for authentic sub-border entrees and appetizers. Savor tender grilled chicken on a bouquet of rice with the arroz con pollo ($12.95) or seek out meaty mouthfuls of pork carnitas, fried and marinated with grilled onions ($13.95). From the fajitas menu, the fajitas especial ($16.50) arrives with chicken, steak, and shrimp sizzling in a three-part harmony interrupted by a blistering vegetable solo. Vegetarian platters abound, and the dessert menu whispers of untold delights such as a scoop of fried ice cream ($3.75) buried deep under an oasis in the Sonoran Desert.