The chefs at Paquito’s fill hungry hands with a menu of Mexican fare for patrons to nosh while surrounded by bright, funky décor. To start, waiters drop off complimentary tortilla chips and chunky cilantro salsa at the tables, which are covered in fluorescent ponchos. Devour traditional favorites including chorizo-stuffed chimichangas ($13.50), tamales ($8.95), and enchiladas with your choice of meat ($11.50–$14.95). North of the border specialties such as guacamole burgers ($6.95) add a Mexican spin to standard American fare, especially when swallowed down with a classic margarita ($7.95) or a Negra Modelo ($4.50) and ordered while releasing a flock of bald eagles. Quirky knickknacks and art cover Paquito’s walls, whose bright colors represent all the flavors of the original margarita—strawberry, lime, raspberry, peach, and banana.
Named Best Healthful Fast Food in 2009 by Miami New Times, Pepper’s Burrito Grill crams burritos and tacos full of fresh ingredients, and grills up a sizzling menu of quesadillas, enchiladas, and other traditional Mexican fare. Rice and beans rub shoulders with pico de gallo and cheese within the cozy walls of the fish burrito, waiting to be joined by a cuddly companion of beer-battered tilapia and its beer-battered teddy bear ($8.99). Heath-conscious diners can opt for a whole-wheat tortilla for $0.50 extra, or switch to grilled fish at no additional charge. Dress up a shrimp taco “A La Mex” with a hard or soft corn tortilla topped with onion and cilantro ($3.99). An appetizer of queso fundido primes palates with melted chihuahua cheese, sausage, and peppers ($5.99), and a refreshing margarita is perfect for cleansing the palate in between more margaritas ($4.50).
The cooks in Taco Shop’s kitchen stuff burritos, tacos, and tortas with traditional Mexican meats ranging from carne asada and carnitas to barbacoa and al pastor. They also pile these seasoned proteins onto towering platters of nachos and hide them inside gooey quesadillas. In the dining room, tangerine-colored walls brighten up the space and make guests feel like tiny pieces of pulp.
The flavors of Mexico City get an inventive reboot at Cantina Laredo, which has specialized in modern Mexican cuisine since 1984. Over the decades, Catina Laredo locations have spread to numerous states, countries, and at least two planes of reality. Classic dishes fill the menu, including guacamole prepared tableside and hand-rolled enchiladas stuffed with everything from Angus beef to avocado and artichokes. At the same time, the chefs elevate and refine traditional flavors by creating chicken fajitas with bacon, mushrooms, and chipotle-wine sauce and filling tortas with slow-roasted pork, apricot spread, goat cheese, and fried egg.
As for drink pairings, the Casa Rita?Cantina Laredo's signature margarita?is versatile, its classic version including silver tequila with Cointreau and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice. Diners can customize their drink by adding flavors such as mango or tamarind into the mix.
Alma Mexicana's tasty treasures abound within the crunchy cover of taco shells and the aurally surreptitious soft shield of tortillas depicted on the sizable menu. Wake up sleeping stomachs with huevos con chorizo, two scrambled eggs bulked up with mexican sausage in a heap of beans, pico de gallo, and tortillas ($8.50), a decidedly pleasant alternative to starting the day by digesting a cymbal monkey. Alma's mealmakers build the chile relleno by roasting fresh poblano peppers, packing them with melted cheese, and painting them in egg batter and homemade green sauce ($12). The cuisine engineers also craft tortas ($7.50)—a Mexican version of the layered culinary classic commonly known as the sandwich—stuffed with a choice of four meats, including steak and marinated pork, and accented with the creamy drawl of guacamole and mayonnaise. An arsenal of other south-of-the-border staples, such as more than a dozen different burritos ($4.50–$7.75), a trio of quesadillas ($3–$4.50), and seven substantially savory combination plates ($10–$12), rounds out the menu.