Bejeweled sombreros hang from Tequila Sunrise’s ceiling, their gems glinting next to strands of hanging lights. In keeping with this flashy, festive atmosphere, bartenders dole out award-winning margaritas, which are blended from freshly squeezed sour mix and served in glasses that dwarf the circumference of their customers’ heads. Though Tequila Sunrise specializes in libations, it doesn’t shirk cuisine: chefs sauté fresh seafood in Mexican spices and drizzle tender chunks of meat with homemade sauces. Their dedication to high-quality, fresh ingredients helped earn the eatery its spot as one of 2011’s best Mexican restaurants in South Florida, a poll determined by Local 10 viewers and one guacamole-obsessed Magic 8 ball.
Frustrated by a lack of local options for authentic Mexican cuisine, the Alarcon family decided to take matters into their own hands. Originally from Monterey, Mexico, they decided to stop searching for a great Mexican restaurant and just make one instead. The family started by making meals for friends, eventually expanding a take-out taqueria, and, today, the Alarcons welcome guests to El Agave Azul, Named after the type of cactus used to make tequila, El Agave Azul serves up tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, which guests can customize by selecting ultra-fresh ingredients instead of just having their name written in sour cream on them. In addition to fresh pico de gallo and grilled pineapple, diners can choose from 17 different fillings, including the house specialty al pastor pork, tender barbacoa beef, or spicy mushrooms.
The flavors of Mexico City get an inventive reboot at Cantina Laredo, which has specialized in modern Mexican cuisine since 1984. Over the decades, Catina Laredo locations have spread to numerous states, countries, and at least two planes of reality. Classic dishes fill the menu, including guacamole prepared tableside and hand-rolled enchiladas stuffed with everything from Angus beef to avocado and artichokes. At the same time, the chefs elevate and refine traditional flavors by creating chicken fajitas with bacon, mushrooms, and chipotle-wine sauce and filling tortas with slow-roasted pork, apricot spread, goat cheese, and fried egg.
As for drink pairings, the Casa Rita?Cantina Laredo's signature margarita?is versatile, its classic version including silver tequila with Cointreau and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice. Diners can customize their drink by adding flavors such as mango or tamarind into the mix.
Named Best Healthful Fast Food in 2009 by Miami New Times, Pepper’s Burrito Grill crams burritos and tacos full of fresh ingredients, and grills up a sizzling menu of quesadillas, enchiladas, and other traditional Mexican fare. Rice and beans rub shoulders with pico de gallo and cheese within the cozy walls of the fish burrito, waiting to be joined by a cuddly companion of beer-battered tilapia and its beer-battered teddy bear ($8.99). Heath-conscious diners can opt for a whole-wheat tortilla for $0.50 extra, or switch to grilled fish at no additional charge. Dress up a shrimp taco “A La Mex” with a hard or soft corn tortilla topped with onion and cilantro ($3.99). An appetizer of queso fundido primes palates with melted chihuahua cheese, sausage, and peppers ($5.99), and a refreshing margarita is perfect for cleansing the palate in between more margaritas ($4.50).
Tijuana Taxi Co. invites guests to experience Mexico's vibrant spirit with hearty cuisine and frosty beverages. The extensive menu features a variety of Mexican and Tex-Mex classics, including carne asada enchiladas, shrimp fajitas, and mahi-mahi tacos spiced with chipotle mayo.The menu also incorporates a bit of international flair into some dishes. Miso-glazed salmon embraces trans-Pacific flavors, while the homemade madeira sauce spooned over the house-favorite chicken nods to more European culinary traditions. Drinks, however, skew firmly south-of-the-border, with options like margaritas, Coronas, and Dos XX.
The celebratory atmosphere is further emphasized by the colorful decor at Tijuana Taxi Co.'s stateside outposts. The dining rooms are decorated like cheerful cantinas, complete with colorful woodwork, vintage-style posters, and twinkling lights. UFC fights are aired on certain nights, and guests can also take advantage of an outdoor patio.
Sabor Latino packs the Incan, Spanish, African, and Asian flavors that influence Peruvian cuisine into a menu of traditional dishes. Plates of fresh ceviche cure pieces of fish, shrimp, or black mussels in lime juice with a mixture of vegetables, and causas stack grilled octopus and other meats between mashed-potato patties. Heartier fare includes lomo saltado, tender skirt steak sautéed with tomatoes and cilantro, as well as corvine a la criolla, a breaded sea bass topped with a salsa of fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime. The cozy restaurant creates an intimate atmosphere as patrons sit around small white-clothed tables. A wrought-iron fence surrounds the brick and stone patio, where guests enjoy refreshing breezes and views of the nearby lake.