At El Sarape, the Marin family and their chefs eschew southwest and Tex-Mex recipes in favor of traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine. Housemade corn dough morphs into chicken sopes and tortilla wedges, which diners dip into nachos with chihuahua cheese and pico de gallo. The kitchen also serves chipotle mashed potatoes beside pork tenderloin in tomatillo sauce and prepares skewers of shrimp and scallops Mazatlán style. At the bar, patrons can sample an array of tequilas while admiring the paintings adorning the walls, from a mural of a pastoral countryside to a topographical map of Mexico’s fourth dimension.
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.
Skeletons dance and songbirds tweet at Cantina Feliz—on its beautiful painted wall murals, that is. If the artists were more literally minded, they probably would have depicted an aquatic scene, too. Chef Tim Spinner’s modern Mexican dishes brim with seafood, from guacamole with crab to a crab and bass entree.
Coyote Crossing Resort nestles into the bordering Manistee National Forest, dusting the landscape with rustic timber dwellings armed with modern amenities. Each two-bedroom unit houses contemporary accouterments such as satellite TV, a full bathroom, and WiFi access, allowing curious kids to learn about nature before dipping their toes into it. Triplicate cooking options keep growling bellies from upsetting the surrounding wildlife, including a fully equipped kitchen, a charcoal grill, and fire rings that yield flame-licked fare. Drawing inspiration from 50 acres of surrounding woodlands, rich wood lines the walls and floors of each cabin. Upon stepping outside, guests will find themselves minutes away from attractions such as the Pine River, Lake Cadillac, and various public beaches.
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.