Guadalajara, nestled in the state of Jalisco, was the birthplace of many of the flavors used in Mexican food. Those influences shine through in the recipes at Taqueria Mexico, where the chefs draw on family recipes brought by over from the inventive city. The dishes have helped earn the eatery very good to excellent ratings on Zagat.
As at any good taqueria, the gorditas, tacos, tortas, and burritos can be stuffed with a wide range of meats and veggies. Carnitas, pork traditionally slow cooked with green chilies, is nearly as tender as steamed beef al vapor. Lengua, or beef tongue, is also a time-tested taqueria meat. And like the dependents section of a scarecrow’s taxes, the eatery’s quesadillas brim with squash.
One of the most enjoyable ways to experience different cultures is by exploring their cuisines, and at Maxwells 148, guests can zoom around the globe with bites from an international menu. Executive Chef Mitchell Maxwell sees to it. More than just a passive admirer of the Asian and Italian foods that stand out on the Zagat-rated menu, the experienced kitchen master has trained in the lands from which these cuisines originate. His passion for Asian food has taken him to Honolulu, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore—he spent time in a kitchen in each of those locations. And his love of Italian fare dovetailed neatly with his pan-Asian education when he learned how to cook in the style of the Friuli region of Italy with chefs who hailed from there, but who were in Hawaii with Maxwell.
The results of Chef Maxwell’s globetrotting education are palpable in the flavors of appetizers such as Maine lobster or Hudson Valley foie gras. Or, they emerge from a pasta dish of Cantonese noodles with shrimp or linguini siciliana with cauliflower. His house specialties include classic chicken marsala, gnocchi ai aragosta, and kaffir-lime seared scallops.
The Simple Man Saloon's simple confines host hearty pub grub alongside live Southern rock and blues music. Its menu is studded with savory offerings such as 100% Angus-beef burgers made fresh to order, plated with fries and a pickle on black-and-white checked paper that signals the meal's finish line. Beers are available to toast the live bands and wash down sweet-potato fries, veggie burgers, and hand-battered buffalo wings.
Aaron Mateychuk, head brewer at Watch City Brewing Company, makes playful twists to time-tested beer styles, earning his pub accolades and press mentions including a three-year streak of awards at the Great International Beer Festival. The stolid Titan ale is a balanced American brown ale, and the vivid Hops Explosion IPA employs a backbone of malt to keep a covey of hops in check. A posse of seasonal beers allows the brewer to keep experimenting by crafting citrusy summer ales to match cascades of sunshine and autumnal pumpkin brews the deep red-brown of changing leaves. Mateychuk also tracks down various strains of European yeast to create limited-run series, which in the past have included abbey-style Belgian beers and German-style lagers.
Inside the bright brewpub, servers carry upscale pub fare to a wall of wooden booths and benches exactly like those used in professional sitting competitions. Surrounded by vintage beer posters and paintings, patrons dine on pulled-pork tacos, housemade crab cakes, and reubens on pretzel rolls. The kitchen integrates beer into dishes such as the IPA-infused lamb burger and a deep-fried burger wrapped in beer batter and topped with chipotle-lime mayo.
Charley's invites diners to taste a sprawling menu that features American classics such as steaks, seafood, and salads. Hand-cut french fries are served alongside burgers piled with bacon, crisp fried onions, and enormous pickle slices. As forks and knives dig into steaks forged from USDA choice beef, aged a minimum of four weeks, a wine list details more than 60 different wines available in bottles and glasses, instead of a server’s boots. During weekend mornings, brunch details specialties such as thick-cut french toast, filet-mignon benedict, and corned-beef hash, served with spicy bloody marys, mimosas, or champagne.
Soft live jazz music fills B Street Restaurant & Bar while servers deliver platters such as pumpkin hummus with grilled naan, wild mushroom ravioli, and glasses of rosé sangria from the full bar. This confluence of cuisine, libations, and music has attracted the attention of Metro magazine. Proprietor and host Elli "Ellen" Kaplansky, credits her grandmothers for instilling in her a passion for food. She fuses this passion with her work experiences with celebrity chefs Todd English and Jody Adams when she chooses her menu of signature dishes such as the 10-ounce char-grilled burger with Vermont cheddar and skillet potatoes.
She also adds inventive twists to entrees such as the pan-seared local cod entree with fire-roasted tomatoes and fresh corn risotto, or the fire-grilled lamb chops with a balsamic cherry glaze. The dining area's cozy booths, tall tables, and a curved bar in tones of brown, orange, and red add warmth to the atmosphere, and the restaurant adds warmth to the community by reaching out to partner with local charities both financially and with a poker stick that stretches several city blocks.