Started in 1964 in Yermo, California, the Del Taco quick-serve restaurant chain now spans 17 states with over 530 stores, speedily serving south-of-the-border fare along with hearty American burgers. All menu items are made-to-order using fresh ingredients, such as freshly-grated cheddar cheese, homemade salsa, slow-cooked beans, and marinated grilled chicken. Several variations of tacos cradle meats such as chicken, steak, and crispy fish between corn tortillas, and burritos range from the small, intimate half-pound bean and cheese to the meaty Macho style, which refuses to ask for directions on road trips. Signature sauces, such as Del Inferno, Del Scorcho, or Mild sauce may be smothered onto any menu item for added zest. A drive-through hands out cheesy quesadillas throughout the late-night hours, passing the time until the sunrise's yellow, orange, and red hues announce its hunger for breakfast, which is served all day, including biscuit and muffin sandwiches, and breakfast burritos filled with eggs, cheese, sausage, or bacon.
El Tipico is a 42-year-old family-run establishment that prepares handmade Mexican cuisine fresh daily using pure vegetable oil, real Mexican spices, and family recipes (entrees are $6.95 to $19.95). To lick a Mexican-cuisine rainbow, try a combination platter such as the #1 Mexican Dinner, which includes a beef-tip burrito, cheese enchilada, taco, tostado, rice, and beans. The El Tipico nachos––composed of nacho chips topped with cheese, onions, jalapeños, beans, guacamole, ground beef, chicken, sour cream, and tomatoes––could be a hearty starter or a disguised main course. For dessert, the Sweet Chimi, a deep-fried, strawberry-filled flour tortilla rolled in cinnamon and sugar and topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry, will satisfy the ravenous cravings of your mouth's most ambitious sweet tooth.
Jesus Angel became a restaurateur by happenstance. Working for nearly 30 years in the auto industry, Jesus drew crowds of coworkers at lunchtime that clamored to sample the Guadalajara native's Mexican dishes. Intrigued, he hit the streets and toted his food to local festivals, steadily building a following that would propel him into a second career. Today, El Camino Real spans three locations across Northwest Ohio. In addition to the menu of dishes from his homeland, Jesus's restaurants draw patrons with citrusy margaritas, live mariachi bands on weekends, and patios and dining rooms decked out with Spanish tile work and atomic clocks set to the Mayan calendar. These features have earned El Camino Real a place on Toledo City Paper's Best of 2011 list.
A stone bowl cradles the molcajete at Los Dos Gallos, which includes not just grilled steak, but also chicken and shrimp. Pico de gallo lends zest to this dish as well as other specialties, such as carnitas simmered in a tomatillo sauce, or classics such as tacos and burritos. House margaritas and ice-cold horchata ameliorate any heat from the food and act as salves in case of sunburn.
Seasoned staffers wheel a small cart directly up to dining room tables, where they smash avocados into a palatable paste of fresh guacamole right before guests' eyes. This appetizer fuels treks through Cinco de Mayo Amigos Cantina's lengthy menu, which spotlights Mexican favorites infused with authentic ingredients such as pork carnitas, carne asada, and spicy mole sauce. The restaurant's exposed brick walls house weeknight karaoke, as well as other weekly events including Salsa Night on Saturday, Ladies' Night on Thursday, and Day Planner Appreciation Night on Tuesday. On the outdoor patio, guests can get their fill of fresh air and sunshine as they sample 20 varieties of margaritas.
After 20 years in the restaurant business, the owners of the family-owned Tijuana's Mexican Kitchen embrace tortillas as a highly versatile food. The flour wraps form the foundation of diverse dishes, including chimichangas, tamales, fajitas, enchiladas, and a fresh-prepared Mexican sandwich built on three flour tortillas slathered with gravy-drenched layers of rice, beans, and beef. After washing their entrees down with their choice of margaritas, desserts such as churros bring meals to a decadent conclusion.