Cooks bustle about the kitchens of Tulio's Mexican Restaurant, stuffing flautas with juicy morsels of skinless white-meat chicken and marinating strips of sirloin steak. The beef soaks in its bath of spices for a full 24 hours before it’s deemed ready for fajitas al carbon and mexican steak-tip dinners, a slow but necessary process that typifies the restaurant’s concern for getting traditional Mexican recipes right.
Though they share certain ingredients in common, there’s no mistaking the difference between a giant burrito—stuffed with up to five pounds of meat or piñata candy—and light entrees such as veggie fajitas with steamed rice and ranchera beans. Whether sautéing peppers or deep-frying chimichangas, the cooks keep an eye on heart health and use only 100% vegetable oil. Fresh produce goes into dishes such as the Cancun chicken, whose sweet bell peppers and guacamole-celery hot sauce make for more green than a bank vault filled with lime jello.
Cha Cha's provides hungry patrons with a bevy of border-straddling dining options ranging from authentic Mexican cuisine to Tex-Mex and Southwestern favorites. The enchilada-centric menu allows diners to launch their feast rockets with an appetizer of enchilada dip—a creamy blend of green-chili queso, chicken, and melted cheese sealed in by a layer of sliced avocados ($7.49)—before tackling a myriad of 'chilada main courses, such as Cha Cha's signature cheese enchilada ($8.99). Or savor the taste of traditional street tacos stuffed with fajita beef, chicken, or blackened shrimp ($9.99) from the modern convenience of tables and chairs. Stubborn thirsts can be tackled with a double-punch-packed Margarona, the liquid lovechild of Jose Cuervo and Senorita Corona.
Like artists adorning an edible canvas, chefs at La Cueva Grill paint fresh salsa onto the sizzling steak at the heart of their signature carne asada tacos. But pico de gallo isn’t their only artistic medium—melted cheese also oozes from quesadillas’ 12-inch flour tortillas and a 100% beef burger’s sizzling slabs of bacon. Other eats include Mexican-style hot dogs—andouille sausage doused in pico de gallo and chipotle mayo—and baskets of fresh tortilla chips ready to be slam dunked into bowls of salsa and cheese. Between bites, patrons can order up Top 40 arias from the wall-mounted digital jukebox, or sidle up to outdoor tables to reenact famous jousts with oversize patio umbrellas.
The chefs at La Salsa Grille infuse dishes with the traditional flavors of Mexico, preparing items fresh daily with local produce whenever possible and customizing spice levels to suit individual tastes. Dinner entrees highlight masterworks such as the carne asada, an 8-ounce thinly sliced chuck served beside rice, beans, avocado, and spicy sauce ($9.25). Instead of looping Chicken Run on Blu-ray, the pollo verde satiates poultry cravings with a grilled chicken breast drizzled in salsa verde and cheese ($8.95). Brimming with tortilla-wrapped confections, the lunch menu satisfies midday meal-goers with fajita platters stocked with 6 ounces of chicken or beef and mounds of grilled bell peppers and onions ($7.49), or the two-hand-necessitating big burrito surging with chicken or ground beef ($6.59). White stucco walls accented by red archways surround the casual dining area, creeping into patrons’ peripheral vision like Roombas weaned from table scraps. Tiles lie beneath yellow seating, imparting La Salsa Grille with the ambiance of a Mexican villa’s sunny patio.
Mamasita’s offers an assortment of tasty platters, delicious Mexican specialties, and a selection of 25 different tacos. Give your mouth a soupy gift with a cup of black-bean chili, whose broth features ground beef, black beans, cheddar, and jalapeños ($4.50), or start your meal traditionally with fried ice cream ($4). To graze in more abundant food pastures, gallop to the queso Mexicano burger, which combines mushrooms, veggies, and jack cheese ($7.50) to lure tongues out of their shells, or the mixed-grill burrito-supreme platter served with rice, beans, and both steak and chicken ($9.50).