Between paintings of jungles and exotic birds lies Galeana's Grill, a Mexican eatery with a tropical vibe. The ceiling fans' petal-like blades whir above the dining room, circulating the savory scents of pork carnitas, chicken taquitos, and burgers made of beef tenderloin and chorizo. Available for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, chilies rellenos can be dispatched "wet style," which means that the tortilla-wrapped dish is topped with enchilada sauce and cheese, not that it has recently taken a shower. Outside, under cheery red patio umbrellas, guests sip imported and domestic beers beside lush tropical fronds and walls covered with beachy straw mats. Mexican feasts can also be transported to guests' homes or hotels via catering orders or room service.
From 14-hour days during the beginnings of their first restaurant in Long Beach more than 37 years ago, Super Mex founders Manuel and Socorro Orozco built franchises across Southern California. Inspired by the local cuisine of the village he was born in—Villa Jimenez, Michoacan, Mexico—Manuel brought his passion for traditional Mexican food to California, where the business grew with a dedicated following of college students. Striving to craft dishes that taste homemade, Super Mex offers Mexican classics such as burritos, tostadas, and flautas.
Steven Paperno, raised in the kitchen of his parents' delicatessen, has been working with food all his life. By the age of 18, he already owned a food manufacturing company, a job that took him all over the Americas. While in Central and South America, he sampled some of the cuisine and found himself dreaming of bringing those small-village flavors to America. So, he sold his company in order to start a new one, one dedicated to infusing organic, local ingredients with the flavors he tasted abroad. He called the new joint Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill.
Inside any Sharky's location, the chefs use certified-organic beans and rice to fill out every dish they make. Hormone-free chicken and drug-free beef simmer in the open kitchen's hot pans, where guests can observe cooks adding a light dusting of chipotle spices. The fish arrives fresh from the market each morning, hand-selected for quality and chosen according to the recommendations of the West Coast Seafood Watch, which aims to prevent overfishing by encouraging restaurateurs to buy sustainably caught seafood. Imported mesquite grills and stone-fire ovens lend their kiss to each dish on the menu, bringing the authentic smoky flavor that Steven so wished to re-create without the hassles of a trashcan fire.
The Taco Surf empire grew from the dream of a father and son who, in 1988, decided to found a restaurant that captured the distinctive flavors as well as the festive spirit of Baja California. Basing the menu on generations-old family recipes, the duo stick to tradition by making everything from crispy tortilla chips to tamales in-house. Charbroiled flank steak, slow-cooked pork, and grilled chicken appear throughout the menu; however, the ocean's influence is unmistakably prominent. The iconic Baja tacos arrive brimming with breaded white fish and drizzled with a signature spicy Baja sauce, which the restaurant generously sells by the bottle and by the thimble.