The best thing about visiting the "little" versions of other regions is the food. The second-best thing is that the little versions of grown-up animals still look like baby animals. Today’s Groupon muddles the experience with tropical tastes, splashes it with Latin locomotion, and garnishes it with extended metaphors. For $10, you get $25 worth of scrumptious Cuban cuisine and drinks at Little Havana Restaurant y Cantina Cubana, a casual Federal Hill eatery that's been serving authentic cuisine for more than a decade. Little Havana's is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.), Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at 11 p.m.), and Sundays for brunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.).
The chefs at Mi Viejo Pueblito Restaurant sizzle up dinner and lunch menus packed full of authentic Mexican flavors. At dinnertime, patrons smuggle beef, melted cheese, and fresh guacamole into stomachs via quesadillas ($8.50) and silence stomachs before they begin arguing with the pancreas by dining on fajitas camarones, where grilled shrimp mingles on a hot plate with bell peppers ($13.50). Sink delectable shrimp into a glass of tangy sauce with the Mexican-style shrimp cocktail ($8.50), or stretch jaw muscles in anticipation of the guisados de puerco, stewed pork in green and red sauce ($9.50). Parched noshers crack open cervezas, uncork bottles of wine, or stab open fermented juice boxes brought from home, in accordance with Mi Viejo Pueblito's BYOB policy, and kick back on weekends as live bands belt out jazz tunes.
Recently featured in the Baltimore Sun, Diablita boasts a tantalizing menu chock-full of contemporary Mexican cuisine, with dashes of Caribbean flavor and Texas 'tude tossed in for good measure. Exotic starters, such as crispy, chipotle-encrusted calamari ($9) or pulled-pork empanadas ($9), set the stage for meals made of fresh, novel ingredients. Diablita serves burritos with rice and beans, pico de gallo, and cilantro sour cream; burritos come in mushroom ($11), chicken ($10), and shrimp ($14.50) varieties, each flavor hailing from an alternate reality in the tortilla time continuum. Fajitas such as the tequila-lime chicken ($16) and the adobe-marinated pork ($15.50) flank their protein-rich centerpieces with masterfully sautéed onions. House-made churros ($6.50) conclude the comestible parade with sugar-ignited fireworks.
"Know your strengths" is sound advice that Mexican Café has taken to heart—they mix more than 12 types of margaritas. These variants go beyond their signature margarita (prepped on the rocks, with or without salt) by imbuing sips with citrusy flavor. The orange crush, for example, is made-to-order with freshly squeezed oranges, whereas the agaverita replaces Triple Sec with agave nectar. These join imported beers, sangria, and specialty cocktails on a sprawling drink menu, which guests can peruse inside the vibrant dining room or on the outdoor deck.
When it comes to food, the café continues to embrace variety. Tacos come stuffed with chicken, steak, pork, and even chopped shrimp, sprinkled with traditional garnishes of cilantro and onion or Americanized toppings of lettuce, tomatoes, and a hot dog in the shape of the president. Burritos satisfy vegetarians and meat-eaters alike with spinach and steak versions, including the "Sunken" burrito, served beneath Texas-style chili.
Inside the Lexington Market, Mexican Delight’s chef draws on more than 20 years of experience to build a simple menu of fresh entrees, including halal options. Steamed tortillas fold around three kinds of burritos, including a breakfast version with spicy eggs and a queso option with two kinds of cheese. Fajita plates sizzle with hand-cut meat, and diners can bookend their meals with an appetizer of chicken-stuffed jalapeños and deep-fried ice cream sweetened with honey and whipping cream. On Fridays and Saturdays, live musicians play blues, motown, and jazz tunes to entertain guests and help couples chew their meals in perfect rhythm.
Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.