Since its founding on Cinco de Mayo, 1989, El Taco Loco has sought to transport the flavors of a California taqueria to the East Coast without the help of preservatives, fillers, artificial flavoring, or lard. Along with classic fajitas, enchiladas, and carne-asada burritos, the extensive menu tweaks tradition with offerings such as the Mexican BLT taco and french fries with a piquant house spice blend, all of which can take on extra heat at the complimentary salsa bar. In the summer, sidewalk flower boxes beckon guests into El Taco Loco's storefront, designed to resemble a beach hut complete with grass roof and vacationing starfish.
When the Egoavil and Anguino families emigrated from Peru in 1992, there was an empty Mexican restaurant awaiting them in the United States. They quickly transformed the dining room with a bounty of Mexican and Peruvian art and the menu with a fusion of Mexican and Peruvian dishes, thanks especially to chef Said Anguiano's specialization in the cuisine of Mexico and and chef Carmen Egoavil's knack for Peruvian fare. Their efforts were so successful that they earned the Best of Lambertville Award in 2013.
Today, Anguiano stuffs fish inside tacos and Egoavil marinates the seafood in the ceviche dish’s lime juice and Peruvian peppers. She blankets chicken in a spicy pepper sauce in the aji de gallina dish, while Anguiano folds chicken into enchiladas, burritos, and tamales. The two countries’ traditional meals sit side-by-side on tables in the bright orange dining room or out on the pet-friendly patio.
Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.
When Baja Fresh opened its doors in 1990, freshness wasn’t on the menu at many fast-food restaurants. Disappointed with soggy burgers and floppy fries, the founders built a casual Mexican eatery around fresh, colorful produce and a commitment to healthy living. Cooks prepare meals by hand, using ingredients that hail from real-world farms rather than freeze-dried packages. Tacos and burritos brim with a choice of meats, including pork carnitas and charbroiled steak. Filled with shrimp tacos, tortilla soups, and grilled-chicken salads, a Healthy Choices menu guides diners toward meals that are low in fat, calories, carbs, and smog.
Even though he was just four years old when his family emigrated from Puebla, Mexico to the United States, Alfredo Aquilar prepares Mexican food as though he’d lived his whole life there. Under his supervision, chefs at Las Cazuelas prepare authentic dishes such as nopalitos salad—sliced cactus marinated overnight and mixed with cilantro and tomatoes. Abuelitas pollo, whose name means “little grandmother’s chicken” in tribute to its inventor, Alfredo’s own grandmother, is a boneless chicken breast topped with a guajillo pepper sauce. In the kitchen, shrimp snap against hot skillets near pots of slowly roiling chipotle sauce. To wash down steaming feasts, customers tote in bottles of wine or bring along tequila to add to complimentary pitchers of nonalcoholic margarita mix served Sunday–Thursday.
Inside the dining area, blue shutters frame murals of South American cathedrals, rolling countrysides, and maps of Mexico. An outdoor patio offers people-watching opportunities, and the second-floor balcony lets you look people in the eye when telling them you know they are actually a bunch of children stacked up under a big coat.
The Adobe Cafe's chefs find a way to accommodate nearly every diner without sacrificing the piquant flavors and aromas attributed to southwestern cuisine. They skillet-sear filet mignon and marinate chicken breasts and duck before tossing the seasoned meat with black beans, sautéed green peppers, and white onions for fajitas. But they also alter their traditional Mexican-inspired fare by substituting ground beef, chorizo, flank steak, and carnitas with seitan and tofu for vegetarians or meat eaters' pet goats. The chefs' use of ranchero sauce, roasted peppers, jerk seasoning, and even barbecue has earned the eatery a number of awards; The Adobe Cafe was recently named Best Southwestern Restaurant in Philadelphia by LocalEats.