Maria’s Cantina cultivates a comfortable, homey feel from its implementation of Old-World recipes to its use of fresh, organic ingredients from nearby farms. The accommodating staff treats its customers like extended family, inviting them to lounge at sleek wooden tables as they sup on painstakingly prepared tacos, sip top-shelf margaritas, or leaf through the chef’s grandparents’ wedding album.
When food expediters erupt from Poco Loco Mexican Restaurant's kitchen, their arms are hidden beneath stacks of fajitas, enchiladas, and accents of sweet mole. The cozy eatery has welcomed guests into the aromatic embrace of its exposed-brick walls and Mexican tapestries for 20 years and keeps the party going with flat-screen TVs and whirring margarita blenders. After patrons cool palates with a traditional, lime-marinated ceviche, they can retreat to the outdoor patio for some sun or question servers about the philosophical ramifications of being one who is consistently waiting.
A stunning woman stands offering a basket of guavas, mangoes, and prickly pineapples in her outstretched arms. Behind her, a roaring waterfall spills into a crystal-blue lagoon, on the outskirts of which sky-high trees shelter sprouting vegetables. Hand-painted murals such as these span the walls of Sante Fe Tequila's elegant dining room, where Mexican and Latin plates line tables like colorful brushstrokes on a canvas.
Rife with modern creative touches, the menu bristles with dishes such as whole deboned fresh-caught fish and shrimp and mussels sautéed in white wine. Quality takes precedent over haste as traditional ceviche slow-cooks in lime and skirt steak marinates for a full day in Patrón tequila—all to complement amply stuffed chilies, burritos, fajitas, and enchiladas available with seafood or chicken. After a martini or margarita made with premium liquor, patrons can end the meal by grabbing one of the eatery's bright red tablecloths to distract any stray bulls they encounter on the way to the car.
Like many New Yorkers, Bruce Beck arrived in the city after studying theater; like many more still, he stayed for the food. Since joining the industry in 1979, Bruce has opened his own chocolate shop, written two cookbooks, taught chefs at The New School in Manhattan, and opened two restaurants—including the Mexican-inspired eatery Taco Sueño and its successor, Yucatán.
At the latter restaurant, chefs complement their familiar tacos and burritos with specialties such as pollo dorado a la Yucatán—a crispy half-chicken with chile habanero dipping sauce, pineapple slaw, and fries. At the full bar, mixologists prepare classic cocktails such as the margarita, a drink made to taste like the Caribbean's fruity, salt-rimmed waters.
From the outside, the combination of Don Juan Mexican Restaurant's Mission-style structure and neon-purple signs hints at both a family restaurant that showcases Mexican, Southwestern, and Spanish cuisine as well as popular spot for nighttime lounging. Warm candlelight flickers atop clothed tables as the wait staff drops off plates of chillies rellenos, paella, or cilantro-lime salmon, culinary traditions that garnered notoriety from Massapequa Patch. After the sun sets and they turn back into humans, visitors arrive to celebrate nights on the town by sipping margaritas made from freshly squeezed fruit juice on an open-air patio. Vintage Mexican posters and colorful artwork line the earthy, clay-colored walls, which creates a homey yet elegant backdrop for feasts of cheesy enchiladas suizas or creamy custard flan.
At La Flor, chef Viko Ortega has created a balance of Mexican, French, and Italian flavors, preparing Oaxaca-cheese pizzas alongside quesadillas with marinated pork. Entrees rotate seasonally, but have included braised lamb shank in Mexican spices and jumbo shrimp with corn-scampi sauce.