The beats of lean cuts of meat sizzling on the grill and ladles clanking against trays of zesty vegetables fill Qdoba Mexican Grill during construction of made-to-order Mexican fare. As healthy-eating devotees, Qdoba's staff stocks its kitchen with nutritious ingredients, seasonal flavors, and 100% cotton candy–free tortillas.
Meals can go in any number of directions at La Quinta De Los Reyes. From specialty margaritas in tropical flavors such as guava, pomegranate, and kiwi to table-side guacamole made according to each table's preferred spiciness, the menu offers myriad ways for personalizing the dining experience. Traditional entrees such as tacos and burritos share menu space with house specialties, including the parrilladas, a heaping plateful of meats, cheeses, peppers, and grilled onions. Fish, shrimp, veggie dishes, and traditional desserts round out the menu. Diners can chow down to the sweet overtures of mariachi bands on Fridays and Sundays, lend their own voices to the chorus on karaoke Thursdays, or head upstairs to cut rugs at the dance club on weekend nights.
At Sergio’s Cantina, family recipes from Mexico envelop pork, steak, chicken, and tilapia joined by an array of margaritas and mojitos. Blue-backed booths support diners, and crispy deep-fried quesadillas fill stomachs. The fresh flavors of pico de gallo, poblano peppers, and mango salsa sit atop platters of tacos, tamales, and enchiladas. Colorful umbrellas sprout to shade outdoor patio seating, and waiters emerge from the dining room’s ocean murals and potted palms with mixed drinks in hand.
The chefs at Bien Trucha look south of the border for their inspirations, finding enough spicy meats and sauces to make their lunch and dinner menus stand out. Rather than rely on a simple spread of burritos and tacos, they stack skirt steak and breaded chicken breast on telera bread, brew soups with roasted poblano peppers, and stuff piñatas with queso fresco. Bright mixed greens and peaches enliven cottage cheese, and various salsas lend a kick to shredded swordfish, slow-roasted pork belly, and sautéed shrimp tacos.
Fat Rosie's Taco & Tequila Bar’s executive chef Raoul Arreola draws on culinary experience including 12 years working with celebrated chef Rick Bayless to whip up dinner and weekend brunch menus featuring inventive Mexican fare with an emphasis on Oaxacan recipes. Eating ensembles can gear up for spirited conversation as they plunge homemade tortilla chips into the guacamole’s verdant avocado and serrano-chili depths. Taste buds escape on border-traversing sojourns with entrees such as fajitas that snuggle charred poblano peppers, queso fresco, and a choice of veggies, chicken, steak, or shrimp into a warm corn-tortilla sleeping bag. A quartet of Ensenada tacos packed with buttered tilapia and avocado mayonnaise torpedo growling tummy trolls, and the enchiladas con salsa Del Dia Tango bellies up to tables filled with cheese, picadillo, chicken, or steak. To quench mouths parched from reciting Pancho Villa's memoir, a Fat Rosie’s margarita floods tongue caves with a mélange of tequila, triple sec, and a house lime mix. On Thursday and Friday nights, mariachi music entertains diners and enables mouths to show off their choreographed chewing routines.
The lengua burritos, Jarritos, and red and green sauces that smother enchiladas aren't the only authentic south-of-the-border touches at Changarro Cocina. Its drink list also brings some traditional flavor. The granite bar area, part of the new owner's renovations, hosts more than 70 different tequilas and margaritas made fresh without any mixers. Patrons sip these beverages while nibbling ceviche, huaraches, and tortas and cheering on soccer matches, baseball games, and ice-fishing tournaments broadcast on TVs throughout the restaurant.