In 1982, Alfonso Castaneda opened Dona Esther Restaurant, which he named after his grandmother in honor of her life and love of cooking. Popular dishes include carne asada made with rib-eye steak and the Dona Esther Special, a combination platter that hides its plate beneath a piping-hot chicken enchilada, taco, and burrito and bed of rice and beans. Customers looking for something more comforting than a mariachi band that lulls them to sleep can always order a steaming, fragrant bowl of menudo—a traditional Mexican soup seasoned with onion, cilantro, and crushed red pepper. But if music's your thing, live musicians fill the room on Saturday nights and during the Sunday brunch buffet. The traditional tunes add to an atmosphere epitomized by rustic carvings and paintings, as well as lush greenery that spills out of pots in search of salsa.
Across eight locations in Northern California, Arteagas Food Centers bring a taste of Latin America to their respective communities with fresh produce, meats, and authentic cremerias. Patrons can pick up a variety of Latin ingredients, American-brand products, or meat cuts for their next barbecue, including ribs, carne asada, chicken, and seafood. Throughout the year, live bands and comedians combine with free events such as a Dia de Los Muertos party and a scavenger hunt to entertain guests while they shop. Arteagas gives back to the community by offering free health care testing and a connection to more than 40 nonprofits. Three locations even host a full taqueria, where diners can sit down for freshly prepared hot foods such as barbacoa, burritos, tacos, and chile verde.
At El Amigo, where a spacious, brightly colored indoors is met with an outdoor patio, patrons can feast on classic Mexican cuisine. Enchiladas arrive drenched in green or red salsas, or succulent mole sauce. Breaded pieces of fish fill tacos with coleslaw and chipotle sauce, while marinated chicken arrives with rice, beans, and pico de gallo. Soft French bread carries beef and chicken in tortas, as margaritas quench any underlying thirsts.
Aromas of home-cooked Mexican fare waft through the air at Lopez Restaurante Y Cantina. In the dining room, servers shuttle platters of cheesy enchiladas sidekicked with heaps of beans and rice, as well as tacos crammed with carnitas, chicken, and beef or prepared al pastor style. Throughout the meal, barkeeps churn out frothy margaritas, sudsy beers, and texturally ambiguous wines.
The smells of carnitas simmering with peppers and chicken crackling on a grill drift from inside a convenience store. Those curious enough to find their way inside discover Lopez Taqueria & Liquor, where cooks warm tortillas to craft tacos. They also craft impressive deli sandwiches with Boar’s Head meats and lettuce shredded by affectionate helicopters.
The chefs at Los Amigos source recipes from the restaurant's Oaxacan and Southwestern origins to present a menu of delectable selections. Diners can feast on classics such as fajitas, burritos, and huevos rancheros, or sample traditional dishes such as chili verde, which covers tender chunks of pork in a flavorful tomatillo sauce.