Marianella and her brother Marco assert on their site that they “were raised practically in their mother’s Latin American restaurants.” With such a familiarity with the restaurant industry, the siblings opened their own eatery in 2001, dedicating the menu to the cuisines of Chiapas and Puebla, Mexico and incorporating occasional Peruvian recipes. The hearty and affordable selection of beef-filled burritos, sizzling chicken fajitas, and ceviche earned the restaurant a space on CBS Baltimore’s 2011 list of the Best Mexican Food in Baltimore. Yellow walls, brightly colored tablecloths, and framed pictures of the Mexican desert help create a rustic cantina ambience. Local bands meet at the restaurant every weekend to entertain diners with acoustic performances and lectures on basic typewriter maintenance.
The chefs at Mi Viejo Pueblito Restaurant sizzle up dinner and lunch menus packed full of authentic Mexican flavors. At dinnertime, patrons smuggle beef, melted cheese, and fresh guacamole into stomachs via quesadillas ($8.50) and silence stomachs before they begin arguing with the pancreas by dining on fajitas camarones, where grilled shrimp mingles on a hot plate with bell peppers ($13.50). Sink delectable shrimp into a glass of tangy sauce with the Mexican-style shrimp cocktail ($8.50), or stretch jaw muscles in anticipation of the guisados de puerco, stewed pork in green and red sauce ($9.50). Parched noshers crack open cervezas, uncork bottles of wine, or stab open fermented juice boxes brought from home, in accordance with Mi Viejo Pueblito's BYOB policy, and kick back on weekends as live bands belt out jazz tunes.
Recently featured in the Baltimore Sun, Diablita boasts a tantalizing menu chock-full of contemporary Mexican cuisine, with dashes of Caribbean flavor and Texas 'tude tossed in for good measure. Exotic starters, such as crispy, chipotle-encrusted calamari ($9) or pulled-pork empanadas ($9), set the stage for meals made of fresh, novel ingredients. Diablita serves burritos with rice and beans, pico de gallo, and cilantro sour cream; burritos come in mushroom ($11), chicken ($10), and shrimp ($14.50) varieties, each flavor hailing from an alternate reality in the tortilla time continuum. Fajitas such as the tequila-lime chicken ($16) and the adobe-marinated pork ($15.50) flank their protein-rich centerpieces with masterfully sautéed onions. House-made churros ($6.50) conclude the comestible parade with sugar-ignited fireworks.
Zen West lassos together an assortment of Tex-Mex fare and American Western décor in a laid-back environment primed for dinner and drinks. Cowhands can tether their horses to a bike rack before sauntering inside to peruse the menu and fill up on tacos ($6.95+) and burritos ($7.95+) stuffed with steak, chicken, vegetables, and other tasty morsels. After an exhausting afternoon of throwing hay bales into an obnoxious neighbor’s pool, refuel with sandwiches such as the fried chicken sandwich ($8.95) and the grilled portobello sandwich ($7.95). Additionally, thirsty patrons can stock up on drinks at the bar.
The best thing about visiting the "little" versions of other regions is the food. The second-best thing is that the little versions of grown-up animals still look like baby animals. Today’s Groupon muddles the experience with tropical tastes, splashes it with Latin locomotion, and garnishes it with extended metaphors. For $10, you get $25 worth of scrumptious Cuban cuisine and drinks at Little Havana Restaurant y Cantina Cubana, a casual Federal Hill eatery that's been serving authentic cuisine for more than a decade. Little Havana's is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.), Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at 11 p.m.), and Sundays for brunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.).
Inside the Lexington Market, Mexican Delight’s chef draws on more than 20 years of experience to build a simple menu of fresh entrees, including halal options. Steamed tortillas fold around three kinds of burritos, including a breakfast version with spicy eggs and a queso option with two kinds of cheese. Fajita plates sizzle with hand-cut meat, and diners can bookend their meals with an appetizer of chicken-stuffed jalapeños and deep-fried ice cream sweetened with honey and whipping cream. On Fridays and Saturdays, live musicians play blues, motown, and jazz tunes to entertain guests and help couples chew their meals in perfect rhythm.