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.
Custom Mexican feasts bursting with fresh ingredients populate Salsa Fiesta’s lengthy menu, which teams up with seven house-made salsas to swathe palates in authentic south-of-the-border flavors. After selecting a protein-packed filling such as spice-spiked carnitas and seasoned fish, diners can top their burritos or tacos with fixings that include hot-tamale salsa and roasted corn. Pico de gallo and guacamole flank sizzling chicken and roasted peppers in the fiesta-fajita specialty, and the tostones fiesta bowl wakes taste buds from siesta naps by tossing them into a thick pool filled with crispy tostones, beans, pico de gallo, and sour cream. Swollen with velvety chocolate, whipped cream, and swirls of dulce de leche, a crunchy mayan roll prophesies an imminent doomsday for dessert cravings.
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.
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.
Back in the kitchen, the chefs at El Vato Tequila and Taco Bar grill up only antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken and angus beef for their tacos, fajitas, and piñatas, all part of their commitment to humanely raised food. They also give vegans a chance to taste their Mexican street tacos and gooey quesadillas by offering the option of Smart Ground veggie protein and Daiya non-dairy cheese for any of their dishes. Liquid sustenance is just as important as the food here, and bartenders can be found pouring blanco, reposado, and anejo tequilas or mixing margaritas with ingredients such as lime juice, fresh cucumber, or chipotle spices. The Miami New Times described the eatery’s decor as a “Tijuana dive re-imagined as a backdrop for a music video,” thanks to the graffiti-like artwork behind the bar and the Buick Riveria-turned-banquette in the dining room.