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.
The red-brick counter inside Los Altos Taqueria serves as the hub of activity, the place where guests order anything from tacos to tamales, watch chefs stuff tortillas with the requested meats, and eat the traditional Mexican dishes at one of the stools lined along the counter’s perimeter. A selection of nine meats, including fried pork, beef tongue, and barbecue chicken, fill burritos, rest atop nachos, and snuggle in enchiladas. The popular quesadilla suiza hides meat, cheese, and salsa between two tortillas, whereas fajitas boast a smorgasbord of rice, beans, guacamole, sour cream, grilled veggies, and either chicken or beef. Meals are complemented with housemade beverages such as margaritas and micheladas—a Mexican beer prepared with lime juice and assorted sauces and spices.
Como Esta Taqueria's culinary technicians tinker with zesty and flavorful ingredients to create the hearty dishes that adorn their menu of authentic Mexican cuisine. Warm up appetites with a plate of nachos ($5.25), topped with beans, cheese, and salsa, or silence grumbling stomachs before they learn to curse with the wild fish tacos ($3.85) with cabbage and chipotle sauce. Meatless munching begins with the Tofu Ranchero burrito ($5.75), where tofu snuggles together with rice, beans, and salsa in a warm tortilla sleeping bag, or vegetarian tacos ($3.75) brimming with guacamole, beans, cheese, and salsa. Como Esta Taqueria's low-carb tortillas bring a mere 5 grams of carbohydrates to mouths, letting customers save room for loading up cheeks with walnuts or loaves of bread.
The chefs at Red Pepper Grill blend Mexican and California cuisines on a solid menu backed up with a full bar. Diners can kick off meals with house tortilla chips and salsa made fresh daily. Appetizer selections include gooey chicken quesadillas or nachos coated in cheese, beans, sour cream, and guacamole. House special entrees include crisp flautas, rolled corn tortillas that are stuffed with shredded meat. Chile verde burritos swim in a green sauce with rice and beans, and the enchilada Mazatlan holds prawns sautéed in a garlic sauce and topped with melted jack cheese. The heat of salsas, spicy marinades, and memories of family tire-fires can be quenched by a huge list of margaritas, wine, beer, and tequila.
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.