Roberto Ortega Senior and his wife founded Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales in 1999 to introduce the world to the delicious tamales that they make with a secret family recipe. Having started as a small restaurant, Me Gusta Gourmet Tamales now yields its daily harvest of award-winning tamales inside a 10,000 square-foot facility, which is the size of Paul Bunyan's walk-in closet. The kitchen staff makes each batch using quality ingredients, including 100% monterey jack cheese, trimmed cuts of meat, and margarine with 0 grams of trans fat, before wrapping the bundles inside fresh corn husks.
The menu at Fernandas NY Pizza is a culinary collaboration between Italian and Mexican fare. The kitchen staff reaches into ovens and retrieves an array of pizzas, including sicilian, barbecue-chicken, and chicken-parmesan pies that are served whole or by the slice. They plop meatballs onto marinara-filled plates of spaghetti or penne and wedge them between sandwich rolls that diners can wash down with 24 flavors of shakes and juices. South-of-the border flavors appear as breakfast dishes or anytime snacks, including a morning feast of fried plantains and eggs on french bread or rolled-up pupusas, thick tortillas stuffed with beans, cheese, or the diner’s recycled piñata candy.
Western Bagel has captured local tongues and breadbaskets since first exporting its circular treats to the bagel-barren West Coast 63 years ago. The freshly baked dough-discs cover a wide range of flavors and styles. Recruit a seasoned trio of sesame, poppy seed, and everything varieties from the stable of original recipes and erect a fort by spackling them with rich cream cheese. Meanwhile, each of the six alternative selections, all nearly fat-free and 110 calories, pack a flavorful punch without fostering paunch.
El Criollo creolizes a menu of classic, authentic Cuban cuisine with a contemporary cast of flavorful influences. Test out the waters with a tamal cubano appetizer, a homemade yellow corn pork tamale delicately decorated with minced garlic and olive oil ($3.95). Exquisite Cuban entrees include the lengua guisada, beef tongue stewed in a fusion of fresh herbs and spices ($11.95), and the slow-roasted lecbón asado, a marinated pork leg cloaked in caramelized onions ($13.95). Diners can dive into the pescado sudado, boneless white fish steamed in a tomato-creole purée ($14.95), or the pollo en salsa de ajo, stewed chicken smoldered in a medley of garlic, white wine, olive oil, onion, and cilantro ($11.95). Wash down lingering spices with a glass of the house sangria ($6), or share a pitcher of beer ($16-$18) with a group of friends, Romans, and countrymen.
For more than four decades, chef Ulrich Huegli—or Ueli, as he's often known—has been crafting Swiss-inflected cuisine in a variety of California restaurants. At his latest culinary home, Swiss Chef Restaurant, he lightly breads veal for wienerschnitzel, and grills hearty veal bratwurst, among other traditional alpine specialties. Some of his entrées range further afield: steaming bowls of Hungarian goulash brim with stewed meat, noodles and vegetables, and pastas such as gnocchi and rigatoni bolognese add Italian flair, much like nicknaming the entire kitchen staff “Flavio.” Frosty mugs of international beers—such as Erdinger and Bitburger—issue from the full-service bar, which also serves wines and cocktails.