From the moment you pull up, it’s not hard to tell that Don Juan’s Romantic Mexican Food opened in 1966. A certain brand of flashy midcentury Americana lights up every inch of the stucco building, declared a Grand Prairie Significant Landmark by the city's historical commission. Hand-painted signs—one shaped like a gargantuan sombrero—advertise “luncheons” and “dinners.” The menu hasn’t changed much, either: for more than 45 years, the cooks have been making chili, hot sauce, guacamole, and many other ingredients from scratch using the same recipes the founder perfected when the restaurant first opened. Tacos, burritos, and tamales join Tex-Mex favorites such as enchiladas, chili con queso, and taco salad in a deep-fried shell. For dining on the go or on the lam, the restaurant sports a drive-thru (one of the first in town) in addition to a robin’s-egg-blue counter with matching swivel stools.
Rodriguez's fresh-baked "pan dulce" includes Mexican sweets such as cinnamon cookies, fruit-filled turnovers, gingerbread cookies, and vanilla-flavored azucarado pastries. Earning acclaim for its dinner fare as well, the restaurant's house-made tortillas are so popular they're sold in sold in dozens of grocery stores across Oregon and Idaho—perfect for shoppers looking to make their own tacos or replace an old mousepad.
When their family business closed, the Ortegas imported ingredients and machinery straight from their native Argentina, set up a small kitchen, and took their Buenos Aires-inspired products on the road aboard a brand new food truck based out of Global Bakery, in Irving. Their flaky pastries brim with beef, chicken, pulled pork, ham and cheese, and spinach fillings and bear a unique, baked-in pattern, creating ideal handheld meals available straight from the food truck’s window. As they add the variety of fillings, they imprint each pastry with a specific pattern, allowing customers to keep different flavors separate without interrogating their empanadas under a fast-food heat lamp.
Take a moment to feel the tortillas when they arrive on your table at Mercado Juarez Cafe—the soft, handmade wraps are still warm from the griddle. So it's no surprise that these freshly made flour tortillas serve as a base for the menu's selection of mesquite-grilled meats, crisp vegetables, and fiery salsas. These foods are prepared fresh in the kitchen, where skilled chefs extend their culinary expertise to a variety of traditional Mexican dishes, from plump beef burritos to crispy chicken flautas. To craft their signature steak divorciado, they charbroil a 16-ounce steak before drenching the meat in smoky chipotle and flavorful poblano sauce. Meanwhile, behind the bar, servers blend frozen margaritas and uncap cold bottles of imported Mexican beers. After meals, customers can purchase entire cases of the restaurant's signature salsa to share with their friends or serve with the world's largest chip.
Veins of sangria run through sheets of frozen margarita in the Mod-Mex Swirl, a cocktail that epitomizes La Margarita’s core philosophy. Owners Gabriel and Adrian DeLeon, sons of founder Juan, carry on their father’s tradition of fresh Tex-Mex, updating family recipes with a modern twist—“Mod-Mex.” This marriage of classic and contemporary emerges not only in their signature margaritas, but also in their fare. Similar to the swearing-in of a matador, each meal begins with the traditional house-made chips and salsa served warm, but forays into the unusual as soon as customers crack a menu. Amid tacos and burritos, innovative dishes such as salmon swaddled in banana leaves and chipotle-slathered ribs jump out at eaters—even if a flight of top-shelf tequilas has dulled their senses a bit.