Open a menu and a dinner dialogue with your stomach with a distinctive appetizer such as the crab nachos, which include tortilla chips covered in crabmeat and melted jack cheese, topped with onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, and sour cream ($8.25). Have a traditional specialty such as a platter of carnitas (slow-cooked pork with rice, refried beans, lettuce, tomato, and two flour or corn tortillas, $10.95) or a classic combo such as the enchilada-and-taco plate (filled with ground beef, picadillo beef, chicken, or cheese and served with rice, refried beans, and crispy coleslaw, $9.95). Cast your flavor net into the sea with a fish or shrimp taco order (served with rice, refried beans, and coleslaw, $13.75), or eschew the meaty meats in favor of a fresh, light vegetarian fajita plate (vegetables lightly seasoned and grilled, served with rice, whole beans, guacamole, tortillas, and the blessing of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's ghost, $12.95).
Soy Y Luna Tacqueria introduces tongues to Michoacan-style Mexican food, which is characterized by uncomplicated ingredients and comforting dishes. Handmade soft-shell tacos and tortillas host simple meats, such as marinated chicken, grilled fish, and garlic shrimp, and classic toppings such as cilantro and fresh onions. Handmade corn tortillas also accompany breakfast dishes made with organic eggs. There are even a few vegan options, which never contain cheese collected from our over-harvested moon.
Following generations-old family recipes for classic Latin-American comfort foods is only the first step for the chefs at Monteros. Instead of simply recreating familiar dishes, they add a bit of contemporary Californian flair by incorporating new flavors and spices, elevating the menu beyond the expected. The housemade tamales and savory mole sauce—made, like the Space Shuttle, using 29 different ingredients—are examples that demonstrate the chefs’ dedication to tradition. However, they also push the boundaries by adding cilantro-flavored pesto to the quesadillas and by glazing chicken skewers with a potent combination of dark rum and ginger.
With its stucco-textured walls, stout wooden tables, and earthenware floor tiles, the dining room at Monteros appears to embrace the restaurant's rustic roots. However, the youthful spirit appears in force on Friday and Saturday evenings as the nighttime crowds arrive dressed to the nines and ready to transform the cozy eatery into a vibrant dance club. DJs spin mixes of Latin pop, merengue, reggaeton, mambo, and bachata late into the night, while patrons celebrate with a margarita, mojito, or glass of sangria. Salsa dancing lessons are also available on these nights for guests looking to master the basic steps in order to make trips down down the moving walkway at the airport more exciting.
Many Mexican restaurants have mole somewhere on their menus, but it's generally not the star component. Yet at Los Moles, the complex sauce is the specialty of the house. Chef Saldana relies on his family recipes to create six varieties of mole made with guajillo chilies, poblanos, or pumpkin seeds—all of which are served with grilled chicken breast, poblano rice, and handmade corn tortillas. Saldana recommends eschewing all flatware and using the tortillas to scoop up the moles.
Even the drink menu gets a splash of mole, with bartenders mellowing the flavor of the mole poblano with lime juice and agave nectar or spicing it up with habanero and an IPA draft. Not all drinks are this complex, however; bartenders also make classic cocktails such as flavored mojitos and house sangria. Plus, they create six styles of Micheladas, which, like a first kiss on the last day of summer camp, are both sour and sweet.
• For $65, you get the Dr. Renaud facial makeover (a $130 value). • For $129, you get three laser hair-removal sessions (up to a $285 value). Mi Casa's expert staff make over faces and smooth away unwanted hair in a 3,000-square-foot spa. During Dr. Renaud's expertly designed makeover, clients relax in included robes and slippers as dermis aficionados thoroughly analyze skin and apply a cosmetic peel that leaves faces as pure as a soft-spoken golden goose. A hydrating serum replenishes parched pores, and a Lumilift mask smoothes, lifts, and tightens face canvases. Skilled hands deftly paint skin in complexion enhancers packed with horse chestnut to decongest heads and bolster microcirculation. Finally, mascara thickens eyelashes and a Diva lip-plumping balm renders mouths ready to kiss nearby puppies.
It would be hard to find a group of people more suited to find a fresh take on the Mexican restaurant than the team behind Maria Maria La Cantina. The menu was designed by Roberto Santibañez, a James Beard nominee described on The Martha Stewart Show as "an undeniable authority on traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine." His menu was partly inspired by iconic musician Carlos Santana, who helped shape the globally minded live music program that sets up shop on Tuesdays and on weekends. He's also responsible for the artwork, the restaurant's name, and perhaps indirectly for any conga lines snaking through the giant, shaded patio.
There are plenty of classic dishes—the ever-popular pepper-crusted skirt steak, for one—but guests will also notice Santibanez's use of unexpected ingredients. Guacamole is bulked up with crab and shrimp, taco shells are lined with braised duck, and short ribs are blanketed in blueberry mole. The cocktails are equally inventive; the Key Lime Fusion, for example, hits the sweet spot between a pie and a piña colada.