The cooks in Taco Shop’s kitchen stuff burritos, tacos, and tortas with traditional Mexican meats ranging from carne asada and carnitas to barbacoa and al pastor. They also pile these seasoned proteins onto towering platters of nachos and hide them inside gooey quesadillas. In the dining room, tangerine-colored walls brighten up the space and make guests feel like tiny pieces of pulp.
To reflect on Totoritas’ menu is to wade through the effect that exploration and globalization have had on the world’s cultures over the past several centuries. Amid the pages, one can see the influences that found their way to Peruvian shores—from the cilantro introduced by the Spanish to the fried rice and saltados, or sautéed dishes, brought over with Chinese and Japanese immigrants. But to focus solely on the origins of the ingredients themselves, and their transfer from one culture to another, is to ignore how delicious they can be when combined.
Cilantro tops six varieties of ceviche to soften the bite of the lemon juice that marinates the fish and shrimp, and coats of spicy sauce dress fried and sautéed fillets to amp up their zing before they lie atop beds of rice. Plantains flank breaded chicken, and steak, fried fish, or chicken tops tacu-tacu, a classic African-Peruvian dish with beans and spices. While guests explore the crosscultural flavors, colorful paintings of landscapes dot the dining-room walls between bright copper sconces to remind eyes of the seas where fish are caught and of the fields where silverware grows.
Candido's Restaurant treats hungry visitors to a smorgasbord of global cuisine featuring succulent Mediterranean kabobs, Italian pastas, hearty American burgers, and Mexican huevos rancheros and chicken burritos. The menu tempts palates with upscale dishes such as the grilled salmon with mango vinaigrette, as well as simple delights, such as their signature Mediterranean Bullet, a cylindrical pita sandwich filled with Greek sausage and mozzarella that is fired out of a tiny cannon into customers' mouths. Chicken and shrimp mingle with alfredo sauce and olive oil in mouthwatering pastas, while charbroiled burgers deliver handheld meals of beef, melted cheese, smoky bacon, and crispy veggies.
Though it’s a national brand with locations sprinkled across 14 states, Chevys Fresh Mex doesn’t succumb to shortcuts at any of its restaurants. The expert chefs at each eatery gather together fresh ingredients to prepare the entire menu from scratch, whether they’re infusing chicken enchiladas with chipotles or simmering fragrant cauldrons of their homemade tortilla soup. Even though this hands-on approach harkens back to the foundations of Mexican culinary traditions, chefs also give each dish a contemporary twist—tacos meet flavorful drizzles of chipotle aioli, slow-roasted carnitas mingle with fresh oranges and lemons alongside fajita platters. Meanwhile, bartenders engage in serious agave innovation with top-shelf margaritas in flavors such as prickly pear and spicy mango.
The family-owned La Rosa Restaurant has been treating diners to upscale Cuban fare for more than four decades. House specialties run the gamut from stuffed beef tenderloin to Valencian paella, and the menu offers more than a dozen fresh seafood dishes, including crab-stuffed snapper, lobster Creole, and mahi mahi in savory garlic sauce. Meat-lovers can fill up on pork churrasco, baby filet mignon, or rack of lamb, while Cuban-style sandwiches and croquettes make for lighter options. To accompany these savory dishes, the staff prepares mango pie and cream cheese custard and fills glasses with Spanish, Italian, and Australian wines.
A port of call for generations of traders, merchants, and adventurers, Peru has been an international melting pot since the age of explorers. This comes through most vividly in its cuisine and the chefs devoted to perfecting it. At Aromas Del Perú, they create classic and contemporary Peruvian dishes that marry the country’s abundant natural ingredients and traditions with the European, African, and Chinese influences that helped shape its modern identity. Ten varieties of ceviche headline the menu, combining fish and shrimp in a citrusy marinade of lime juice, cilantro, onions, and a touch of rocoto pepper. Chefs also fire up Peruvian-style woks to stir-fry Cantonese-inspired entrees such as lomo saltado—one of the country’s best-loved dishes—that blends sizzling strips of sirloin with onions, tomatoes, and french fries made from native potatoes. Meals end on a sweet note with desserts such as flan and picarones, whose fruit-syrup-topped rings of pumpkin and sweet potato legally wed forks to each plate.