Flavors from the Bajio region of Central Mexico add a savory twist to the south-of-the-border fare served at Bajio Mexican Grill. Traditional spices from this mostly rural lowland region besprinkle proteins such as sweet pork and shrimp sautéed in honey butter, which chefs wrap in tortillas or hide under their toques to prepare for winter. Many plates arrive at tables garnished with Bajio's signature mango salsa for a final splash of sweet.
A fleet of cooks crafts authentic south-of-the-border dishes that populate the menu at La Posada—an eatery owned by a couple that hails from Atolinga, Zacatecas in Mexico. Diners dunk tortilla chips into kiddy pools of guacamole, and wash down bites with sips of Coronas or Mexican-imported Jarritos. Wooden tables creak beneath heaping portions of fajitas, a sizzling medley of chicken or steak, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers, awaiting their fate of being wrapped in tortillas and smuggled home under bowler hats.
Like the ivy plant, Mexican cuisine has spread far and wide across the United States and thrives in many cities. However, the chefs at El Sol de Tala are interested in getting back to the roots of Mexican cuisine, creating authentic Mexican food as they have since 1979. They make fresh guacamole to order, imbuing it with the tropical flavor of mango and nutty flavor of walnut, and braise succulent short ribs in Negra Modelo beer, pairing them with a rustic red salsa. Behind the bar, mixologists complement the kitchen's creations with margaritas crafted from fresh fruits and smooth reposado tequilas.
The decor heightens the experience of the food's flavors and aromas by transporting guests south of the border. A modest yellow brick building on the outside, the restaurant's interior combines lively, colorful fabric art and paintings with hacienda-style stucco archways. A 2-ton limestone fountain dominates the middle of the dining room, soothingly burbling throughout meals. Even the chairs sport artwork, bearing intricate images of the sun, moon, or macaw parrots that occasionally demand crackers dipped in fresh salsa verde.
Mazatlan is a family restaurant that specializes in traditional recipes presented within a warmly welcoming environment free of rogue cannon fire or aluminum space bats. Spicy and mild-minded palates alike can mull over a full menu of savory standards such as custom-cooked steak or chicken fajitas ($11.75), as well as off-the-beaten-path treats such as seafood enchiladas with fish, crabmeat, and shrimp atop a bed of rice, guacamole, and pico de gallo ($8.99). Mazatlan's more straight-up specialties include the pineapple chicken grill topped with tomatoes, red onions, pineapple slices, and avocado ($10.75). And for anyone who has ever been tempted to order a taco that contained only more tacos, the fajita burrito ($8.99) might be the closest thing to living out the dream of foods wrapped within foods wrapped within foods. Once you've built up a solid mouth-fire, put it out with a signature 27-ounce Mazatlan Margarita (Tequila Cazadores, triple sec, sweet and sour mix, Red Bull, and Grand Marnier, $9.15) and some fried ice cream ($4.25).
Los Cabos Mexican Grill is awash in color, from the vibrant paintings that speckle the pink, green, and blue walls to the fruity frozen margaritas that line up on the bar. In the kitchen, chefs shower homemade enchiladas with bright-green salsa and deep-brown mole, topping overstuffed burritos and chimichangas with rainbows of pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. They fold fresh seafood into specialty entrees, such as citrusy fish ceviche and spicy shrimp a la diabla.
Behind the bar, servers whip up a range of specialty cocktails, such as blueberry margaritas and sweet frozen daiquiris. Customers recline in cushy booths and watch chefs prepare guacamole during entertaining tableside performances, marveling as they nimbly slice up fresh avocado, dice onions, and transform napkins into a flock of doves.