Tex-Mex incorporates waves of warm cheese and a chipotle spiciness not found in Baja Mexican cuisine, which has also become popular in the United States. The chefs at La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant tap into the former’s tradition of piquant decadence when crafting fajitas, hot skillets filled with gooey jack cheese and chorizo, and steaks cooked to order. Inside the colorful dining room, frozen mango margaritas complement the bright hues of nachos rancheros crowned with grilled steak and loaded with toppings, or puerco con salsa roja, tender pork marinated in a red sauce and served with rice, beans, and tortillas. A range of imported Mexican beers the color of filtered sunshine or a gold sarcophagus that you didn’t read the washing instructions on cut the spice from the rest of the dishes.
It’s been a long time since Jack Kerouac or Ken Kesey’s band of merry pranksters made their way down Route 66, but at small, cozy points along the way, driver’s can get a glimpse into the past. Fat Charlie’s Grill is one of those spots. Old-fashioned diner fare and friendly service welcome visitors each morning as line cooks scramble up three-egg omelets and assemble their signature crashes—hash browns topped with eggs, veggies, meats, and AAA cards. Their artful arranging of toppings continues into the lunch and dinner hours, with a host of quarter- and third-pound burgers hoisting traditional bacon, mushrooms, and homemade chili or unconventional fried eggs, peanut butter, and country gravy. For the young at heart, or the sweet at tooth, they blend handmade ice-cream shakes with any ingredient you choose.
Arnold's Old Fashioned Hamburgers has been frying up mouth-dousing patties for 25 years in a retro diner, drowning out tummy grumbles with fast-food staples and tunes from its Wurlitzer jukebox. Patrons amble up to the blue-and-pink, glass-block counter to grab a classic hamburger, served in traditional burger-joint wax paper, along with a side of fries and a hefty soda. Padded purple and white booths cushion guests during dine-in feasts, and a drive-thru window serves on-the-go spreads to motorists and honking cars full of migrating geese.