At Tacos and Beer, soft corn tortillas enfold 10 types of grilled and marinated meats in their warm embrace. Above the crunching of freshly fried tortilla chips and the scribbling of odes to guacamole, live music drifts from the brick-walled dining room out onto Tacos & Beer's patio until 2 a.m. Wednesday?Saturday. During these hours, both early risers and night owls can recalibrate their mental clocks' built-in roosters with breakfast options served all day.
Rough wood walls and exposed brick-and mortar accents frame wood-topped tables at Sante Fe Cattle Company, lending it the look of an Old West ranch or corner saloon. Behind walls covered with western movie posters and cowboy portraits, the kitchen staff cuts steaks by hand, commands yeast rolls to rise, and builds sauces from scratch instead of melting them from freeze-dried blocks. The kitchen follows precise family recipes to grace tabletops with a menu of southern-style favorites, such as hickory-smoked ribs, chicken-fried steak, and fried catfish fillets. Live music fills the room on certain nights, and mist fans on the outdoor patio cool people off after a long day on the range or singing about spending the days on one.
Clad in floppy sombrero, the Carlos cartoon crawfish leans fearlessly against his cactus, a plateful of steaming Mexican food in hand for all to see. This emblem is an apt evocation of the eatery's culinary aesthetic––traditional Mexican dishes kicked up a notch with Cajun flair. Sure, the restaurant keeps things authentic with cheesy enchiladas and chili rellenos, but along with chicken or steak, skilled chefs insulate tortillas with bayou-style crawfish, shrimp, and even crab. Margaritas help to soothe mouths after spoonfuls of spice, as do imported beers and tongue massages administered with aromatic guacamole.
Before opening Taco Del Mar's startup location in Seattle in 1992, its founders spent years surfing California's coastline and devouring fish tacos and stuffed burritos. During this time, they developed a bottomless appetite for the local specialty?a taco with fried fish, shredded cabbage, lime juice, salsa, and a mystery white sauce?and decided to make it their signature menu item. Since then, the chain has opened locations in more than 20 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.
The restaurant gives visitors a taste of the California-surfer cuisine Taco Del Mar's founders fell in love with in the form of fresh fish tacos stuffed with fried Alaskan cod. It also introduces people to Mission-style burritos, giant burritos that were created in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early '80s to feed Paul Bunyan when he was there on vacation.
Rio Mar may be located in New Orleans, but its name derives from a town in Panama where the river meets the sea. Warm and welcoming like the waterside taverns in Spain, the restaurant has drawn people to the Warehouse District since 2000 with rotating seasonal menus that unveil the many flavors of the Gulf. Owner and Executive Chef Miles Prescott, utilizes new-world flavors and techniques to rethink classic seafood creations, at once challenging traditional conventions and the 1930 law that all Louisiana restaurants must use Huey Long's family recipes. The resulting menus feature four distinct styles of ceviche and various small plates, such as grilled Portuguese octopus. Large meals, meanwhile include, Grilled Gulf Fish of the Day "Encocado" in a coconut-aji amarillo broth and other specialties, many of which pair well with Rio Mar's selection of rare Spanish wines.
Located in the Warehouse District, steps from the French Quarter's centuries-old streets, Tomas Bistro channels old-world traditions in a rustic former factory space. Chef Jonah Nissenbaum's seasonal menus?which are crafted from local meats and Gulf seafood?marry classic Creole spices and French cooking techniques to create a fusion cuisine deeply rooted within New Orleans' unique history. The Zagat-rated bistro's warm walls, secluded patio, and well-stocked wine racks transcend the building's industrial origins, whisking patrons away to Parisian cafes without the stress of keeping the coat room stocked with magic carpets.