At first peek, the patrons at Casa Jimenez could be entering a rural Mexican townhouse, judging by the eatery's burnt-orange shingled roof and egg-white-hued fa?ade. Upon entry, a flood of natural light from large bay windows reveals a steaming parade of Mexican dishes crowded with tortilla-cloaked bites of pork, steak, and shrimp. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, diners cure spoons' hypothermia with dips in the bubbling depths of a time-tested mexican soup or embrace indecision with combination plates of burritos, enchiladas, and tacos that offer a warm rush without the indignity of being tackled by a Care Bear.
Carne asada is a specialty at Tukan Grill: you can get it in taco form, topped with creamy guacamole, or even tossed over french fries, covered in shredded cheese. But one of the most popular ways to have it is as a fajitas plate. The menu here goes beyond asada, though: like the mess hall at the United Nations, it seamlessly blends culinary styles, with dishes such as the Mexican lasagna, made with shredded chicken, tortillas, and homemade tomatillo sauce, and the surf and turf burritos, stuffed with steak and shrimp. You can also enjoy hearty breakfasts of huevos rancheros or saucy chilaquiles, or have a dinner of tortas al pastor and pair it up with frosty beers and margaritas.
Los Patios emerged victorious from the San Clemente Salsa Challenge not just once, but three times, in 2006, 2007, and 2012. Take a quick glance at the eatery's menu, however, and it's clear that its cooks have mastered far more than just salsa. From chicken tostadas and pastor tacos to veggie fajitas severed on sizzling plates, all the classics of Mexican cuisine are accounted for, all made without additives such as lard, MSG, or magic beans. The culinary team's creative seafood dishes, meanwhile, are anything but standard, with options such as lobster-stuffed enchiladas and shrimp saut?ed in a tequila-spiked garlic butter sauce. Aguas frescas, sangria, and Mexican beer complement the south-of-the-border feasts, which can unfold in a colorful dining room adorned with sarapes (traditional Mexican shawls) or outside on the dog-friendly patio.
For three generations and counting, the Jimenez family has welcomed guests to El Mariachi Restaurant. There they prepare plates chock-full of traditional Mexican cuisine and house specialties infused with the flavors of cilantro, lime, and jalape?os. The molcajete showcases a mound of carne asada, shrimp, and grilled cactus served in a stone bowl, and the grilled salmon is doused in a bright sauce made from tequila and lime.
However, the restaurant also gives diners a feast for the eyes. The eatery is awash in hand-painted murals of life in Mexico, which sprawl across virtually every inch of wall space that's not already covered by gleaming wood paneling. Carved wood pillars support the roof when its psychiatrist isn't available, and strings of holiday lights reflect off stained-glass windows, making them glimmer with life.
The menu at La Paloma Restaurante extends beyond the Mexican-restaurant standards of burritos and fajitas to offer vegetarian dishes and exotic game meats such as antelope, pheasant, and ostrich. Cooks marinate charbroiled ostrich filets in house spices and dress antelope filets in a cranberry-chipotle sauce. More conventional dishes include carne asada burritos—grilled, marinated sirloin sauteed with bell peppers and onions, served with guacamole and salsa—and seafood enchiladas stuffed with shrimp and cheese, topped with ranchero sauce and sour cream. Diners can compliment meals with a selection of more than 50 tequilas, or take the menu's recommendations on wine pairings and gossip topics for the evening.
From a humble beginning as a family business in Tustin more than 25 years ago, Jalapeños has flourished into multiple restaurants throughout Orange County. It's an achievement almost as impressive as the sheer number of burritos on the Tustin menu: 15. And that number could be easily doubled by having each one made mojado-style with melted cheese on top. Classic combinations of beans and meat share the page with creations like the Chile Colorado—beef chunks, red chile, and cheese—as well as vegetarian burritos that are stuffed with the likes of chiles rellenos and veggies instead of just another tortilla wadded up.
Of course, the menu also includes tacos, tortas, and tostadas. Specialty dinners here range from enchiladas to plates of beef tongue and carnitas. To add a little tang to your meal, order an entire marinated jalapeno on the side and douse the spiciness with an imported beer.