Within the colorfully decorated walls and adobe tile floors that comprise Los Machados Mexican Restaurant, smells of hearty bistecs and sizzling fajitas fill the air. The appetizing aromas drift from the kitchen, where chefs whip up authentic eats such as carne asada, mole poblano, and an array of fajitas, tacos, and burritos. Margaritas, daiquiris, and tequila sunrises lubricate guests' dining experience, and fried ice cream and flan bring meals to a decadent conclusion.
El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant's neon-green and bright-red sign is merely an appetizer for the feast of colors within. Red- and orange-striped booths, sky-blue chairs, textured sunflower walls, and tabletops painted with smiling suns, blossoming tulips, and fruit dominate the space. This festive atmosphere sets an ideal scene for enjoying carne asada, chicken enchiladas, tacos filled with pork and beans, and churros. El Tapatio?whose name refers to a Guadalajara native?also mixes up delicious margaritas, which were dubbed the Best Margaritas by Delaware Today in 2008.
Más Mexicali Cantina's authentic south-of-the-border menu blazes with spicy morsels tucked into classic fare, including fajitas, enchiladas, and chimichangas. Endless chips and salsa offer a fitting introduction to the questionably finite Kitchen Sink burrito stuffed with a long list of fillings including chorizo, salsa roja, fire roasted chilis, and your choice of meats ($9.99+). Rival meat- and veggie-lovers can compromise with a table stocked with both pasilla braised short ribs ($12.99) and well-seasoned tofu tacos ($5.99–$8.49). Más Mexicali completes its collection of authentic eats with the unexpected flavorings of its house specialties, such as char-grilled honey chipotle salmon accompanied by grilled-pineapple pico de gallo ($14.99).
At Xilantro, El Sarape's Luis Marin wanted to create "authentic old-world Mexican cuisine with a contemporary flair." With the help of his team of chefs, Marin did just that: the camarones en adobo, Puerco en mole verde, and pan-seared mahi-mahi with béchamel and huitlacoche elevates this eatery past standard Mexican food. Guests can also choose more traditional meals, including zesty pastor tacos, cochinita burritos, and burgers topped with award-winning guacamole. All dishes made with corn products are also gluten-free. In the words of one [Thrillist_(http://www.thrillist.com/food/philadelphia/pa/19087/main-line/xilantro_brunch_date-spots_great-cocktails_lunch_mexican_outdoors_tequila_wine#slide=7) writer, the restaurant, "forgoes the sombreros, maracas, and combo plates to offer progressive yet still authentic Mexi dishes." At the bar, bartenders whip up inventive cocktails with more than 100 premium tequilas between popping open Mexican beers and pouring global wines.
The restaurant's interior also reflects Marin's initial goal. Designed by Morrissey Design, the space evokes the laid-back feel of a traditional cantina with the upscale twist of such modern attributes as a modular bar, lime-green accents, and translucent, almost eerie vintage Mexican portraits.
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.