The chefs at Larry Arroyo's Mexican Cafe have followed family recipes for the entirety of the restaurant’s 27-year history, relying on cross-generational wisdom to craft Guanajuato-inspired dishes such as deep-fried potato tacos and chili rellenos smothered in red sauce. Stuffed with your choice of seasoned meat, Rancho Grande burritos celebrate the colors of Mexico’s flag with their juicy red tomatoes and sides of guacamole and sour cream. A selection of beer and wine complements the cavalcade of menu items. On Saturday and Sunday, steaming bowls of menudo soup rekindle warm memories of family dinners and youthful pranks of dumping chili powder into the local rec pool.
Running a Mexican restaurant was in Octavio Cruces’ blood. After all, his family had owned Mexican restaurants throughout Stockton for more than 17 years, and growing up, Octavio had learned the business from the ground up—washing dishes, cooking food, serving customers, and even tending bar.
Guided by those experiences, he founded his own now-thriving business, Casa Flores Marina, which has been lauded by local diners and reporters from The Record alike. Octavio oversees kitchen staffers who fold fresh, homemade ingredients into authentic Mexican dishes as bartenders blend premium silver, reposado, and anejo tequilas into margaritas. Colorful flags and Mexican artwork adorn the dining-room walls, while numerous tabletops speckle the sunny outdoor courtyard. On Wednesdays, the restaurant hosts live performances ranging from local bands to lone mariachis delivering lengthy Shakespearean monologues.
At Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant, chefs craft authentic dishes from the highest quality ingredients they can find, and they prepare every meal to order to ensure its freshness. They sizzle up sirloin beef, Pacific seafood, traditional cactus, and animal-fat-free beans, and they gladly customize meals to each customer's preferred level of spiciness. Their combination plates encourage guests to sample a little bit of everything, unlike their commitment plates, which legally marry diners to lifetime supplies of tamales. On Sunday mornings, they get to the kitchen early to sling up Mexican-style breakfasts such as huevos rancheros and menudo, a hearty soup simmered with tripe. Diners can temper the heat of any of Miguel's morsels with imported Mexican beer, wine, or creamy horchata.
Lupe's crafts fresh tastes of cuisine from America's next-door neighbor. Meals begin with nachos ($5) or guacamole dip, perfect pools to legally skinny-dip with chips ($5). Meanwhile, adults and adults-at-heart alike can indulge in grown-up sized portions of chicken enchiladas ($7.75), beef burritos ($7.75), or quesadillas ($7.75), while smaller appetites can greet the child's plate ($5.25). Leave no hunger pang behind with a meal-topping slice of cheesecake or flan ($3 each).
The inspiration behind Alebrijes Mexican Bistro is the stuff of nightmares—Pedro Linares’ nightmares, to be specific. At the age of 30, the Mexican artist fell deathly ill. As he lay in bed, unconscious, he dreamt of a strange world filled with brightly colored monsters—a donkey with butterfly wings and a rooster with the head of an eagle among others—all shouting “alebrijes, alebrijes, alebrijes!” When he awoke, he wanted to show his family and friends all that he had seen, so he replicated his first alebrije from brightly painted papier-mâché. To this day, his family still crafts these strange creatures to serve as unusual home accents.
Pedro Linares' monsters inspired Alebrijes Mexican Bistro's name, as well as its decor, which showcases brightly colored paintings of his nightmarish beasts. In 2012, the bistro also won the Lodi News Reader’s Choice award for Best Mexican Restaurant, thanks to its gourmet burritos and regionally inspired dishes such as oaxaca mole, guanajuato bacon-wrapped prawns, and guacamole prepared in the style of Mexico City. The restaurant also infuses their own tequilas.