Meals from across Mexico have filled Estrellita Restaurant's menu since 1958. Veracruz-style tilapia fillets, topped with an herb-laced tomato sauce, join Vallarta-style tostadas, whose crispy corn tortillas don chicken, guacamole, salsa fresca, and sour cream. Chicken also marinates in Oaxacan spices or simmers in house-made mole sauce, whose intricate recipe includes more than 38 ingredients. Behind the bar, hand-squeezed lime and lemon juices flavor margaritas garnished with salt and slices of lime. For dessert, the kitchen whips up flan from a family recipe passed down by osmosis.
When it first opened in 1979, La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill was a simple taqueria in Los Angeles. Its open kitchen gave patrons a front-row seat to watch chefs transform fresh ingredients into bold, memorable Mexican dishes. Today, the original concept has evolved into a booming franchise, but each location works on the same principle: add a modern twist to classic Mexican food. Chefs continue to work in an open-kitchen environment where they concoct seven types of homemade salsas?laced with ingredients such as fire-roasted roma tomatoes, cilantro and garlic, and even mango?to complement carne asada tacos, Los Cabos shrimp burritos, and hefty bowls packed with chicken, fire-roasted veggies, and plenty of cheese. The kitchen crew also assembles large breakfasts of eggs and chorizo, as well as huevos rancheros for early risers.
After 15 years spent honing his restaurateur skills across Mexico, San Francisco, and San Jose, Julian Rios was ready to open the doors to his own eatery in 1992. According to the Sunnyvale Sun, there was just one problem: he didn't know how to cook. That's when his sister stepped in, crafting a menu of Mexican favorites that flourished in the hands of Julian's experienced chef, who is well versed in the secrets of Mexican cooking. Julian eventually learned his way around the kitchen thanks to this chef, adding cookery to a litany of skills that already included bussing tables, manning the register, and dicing sombreros. "If you don't do these things, you could lose your business," Rios told the Sunnyvale Sun, "I have worked too hard to let my business go down."
Low-cholesterol vegetable oil anchors every dish on the approximately 50-item menu, which incorporates loads of veggies and lean meats into traditional Mexican and seafood dishes served à la carte or on the buffet line. Vibrant margaritas and creative desserts scrawl an appetizing epilogue across the evening's menu, where cheesecake chimichangas drown in strawberry sauce, sugar, and whipped cream.