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.
Since 1979, Casa Mañana Restaurant has served up authentic Mexican and Salvadoran dishes from scratch, making it one of Marin County's oldest family-owned Mexican eateries. All-day breakfasts, such as huevos rancheros and fajitas omelets, arrive at tables located inside the compact dining room or outside on the spacious patio. Entrees spotlight spicy preparations of sirloin and pork, as well as fresh seafood that includes shrimp, crab, red snapper, and calamari. Though well-versed in meats, chefs also happily accommodate vegetarians and unhappily accommodate vegan poltergeists.
Just a short trip from the epicenter of the organic-food movement, Sonoma Latina Grill compels its guests to travel back to a time when meats and vegetables were grown on small farms and cooked within miles of their origins. The kitchen sources all of its ingredients from local suppliers, whose fertile soils spawn the fresh fruits and veggies needed to forge the restaurant's signature Latin dishes. From breakfast until dinner, chefs stuff tacos and fashion their homemade, preservative-free flour tortillas into meaty burritos or origami sombreros. Sonoma Latina Grill also caters special events such as weddings and large parties.
What to Drink: Zagat reviewers rave about the Macho Margarita, which blends sweet and spicy thanks to the addition of muddled jalapeños.
Where to Sit: Try to land one of the plush booths and avoid the tables near the open kitchen—a high-traffic zone.
While You’re Waiting: Head to the bar area and watch the 1940s Latin film clips playing on the TVs.
The Vibe: Classic Spanish paintings adorn gold and red walls, and uniquely shaped tequila bottles punctuate a space that’s reminiscent of Mexico City restaurants in the early 1900s.
Mole: there are many regional varieties of this rich sauce, but chilies, spices, and mexican chocolate are the most common ingredients. It’s typically served atop poultry or pork.
How to Get There: Colibri's location in the heart of the Theatre District means traffic and parking can be problematic. However, the Powell Street BART Station is just a couple blocks away.
Although Gabriel Maldonado left his hometown of Michoacan, Mexico in the early 1940s for new opportunities in the United States, he wasn't able to leave behind his family's century-long baking traditions. After long days of laying railroad tracks around Suisun Bay, he spent his evenings in a refurbished garage space, baking sweet pastries and breads inside an old pizza oven. The next morning, he would load the baked goods into his 1938 Cadillac and sell them to the local port and plant workers. He finally laid down firmer roots for his business in 1951, establishing La Victoria Bakery in the Mission District.
The current pastry chef, Luis Villavelazquez, recently upgraded the bakery's Mexican pastries to gourmet status by fusing Latin ingredients into famous French confections. In addition to vegan-friendly items and traditional cookies and cakes crafted from fresh eggs and milk, the 60-year-old panaderia churns out pan dulce from a family recipe passed down through generations of text messages as well as locally roasted fair-trade coffee and Argentinean empanadas.
Mas Sake performs its fusion of Japanese and Mexican cuisines from its perch in the Marina district. Within the high-energy establishment, chefs craft both traditional Japanese fare, including teriyaki dishes and sashimi, as well as sushi that twists in flavors of preserved lemon, Cajun shrimp, jalapeno, and piñata. Conversely, chefs roll hand-made tortillas around sushi-grade ahi to render Japanese-tinged tacos.
Mas Sake hosts a festive whappy hour on weekdays, when libation lovers can slake thirst on cocktails, beers, and sake bombs. The restaurant's dim lighting swathes plush booths and wooden fixtures in a large dining room fit for both intimate dinners and celebrations.