Skillets of fajitas sizzle on their way to the dining room's deep booths. Chords from a Spanish guitar spill from the bar as laughs roll out from one of three banquet rooms. On the patio, some 40 tables share their brick-paved pen with a mechanical bull that snarls at passersby and inflatable moonwalks filled with playful children.
Such is a typical evening at Las Rosas Mexican Restaurant, where an unmistakable energy charges the entire facility. The current begins in the kitchen, where each day chefs follow family recipes to churn out handmade tamales, tortillas, and red and green sauces. The vibe then pulses through the dining room, where a white stone fireplace anchors an open space flanked by booths and 13 60-inch TVs that broadcast games and events. The patio hosts alfresco dining and amusements for the young and young-at-heart who aren't afraid to tumble off a carnival ride in public.
Sounds of laughter and clinking glasses resound through the colorful walls of Madres Restaurant’s expansive dining room, where families and friends convene over authentic Mexican dishes morning and night. In the kitchen, chefs tend grills that sizzle with fresh steaks, seafood, and vegetables, whipping up specialties such as tender carne asada or creamy chicken poblano. Pots simmer with more than 10 varieties of meat, seafood, and vegetarian enchiladas.
Out in the dining room, dishes are joined by fruity margaritas and imported Mexican beers atop numerous tables and cushy booths. Warm lanterns and lush plants dangle from the ceilings, and ornamental Mexican artwork adorns the walls. Outside, an awning shades a front patio from the sun, rain, and falling anvils.
The portable snack, originally crafted back in 1960 in a 2,000-square-foot building in Houston, is the popular pick among discriminating Texans, including Mayor Annise Parker and Governor Rick Perry. Alamo tamales also make a mouthwatering gift for anyone who enjoys the sensation of brushing his or her teeth but would rather use shredded chicken instead of toothpaste.
Known for its award-winning margaritas, Don Julio’s also wins guests over at several Texas locations with a variety of Mexican specialties, including guacamole made tableside. The chefs take pride in using fresh chicken, housemade chipotle sauce, seafood bought fresh at local Kemah markets, and a hearty amount of beans and avocado to flavor dishes. Entrees take their names from various Mexican cities, such as the Puerto Vallarta—a combination of enchiladas, tacos, tamales, and puffed chili con queso.
Towering palm trees, shady cabanas, and flickering tiki torches help create a distinctively Caribbean ambiance in El Pueblito Patio's outdoor seating area, distinguishing it from the rest of the dining area and earning the restaurant the award for Best Patio from Houston Press in 2007 and 2008. The chefs also look for inspiration beyond the borders, combining Mayan, Aztec, Spanish, and African culinary influences that typically characterize Guatemalan and Mexican cuisine. Fried plantains, fiery salsas, and a closely guarded blend of house spices help to lend iconic Latin flavors to the menu of grilled redfish, sautéed gulf shrimp, and roasted chicken. Large fronds and domesticated clouds shade the patio, which encourages diners to enjoy their meals out in the fresh air while savoring a drink with one of the bar's numerous tequilas.
Chefs at Aztecas Margarita Bar & Grill prepare a full menu of authentic Mexican fare including guacamole made to order, dark mole poblano sauces, and fresh ceviche. The pollo Azteca—marinated and chargrilled chicken breast with Azteca sauce, grilled onions, and chili con queso—ignites palates with more flavor and fewer missing teeth than chewing firecrackers. Meanwhile, mariscos mex-tex enchiladas with sautéed shrimp and crab topped with house-made ancho poblano cream sauce follow up orders of Azteca nachos and twice-fried, cheese-filled jalapeños rellenos. The red, green, and yellow walls adorned with exposed bricks and flat-screen TVs surround diners during the day and dancers twirling to live music or DJs throughout the night. Behind the full bar, bartenders pour signature margaritas, frozen or on the rocks, infused with fruit flavors such as guava or mango. An outdoor patio holds additional seating for dining alfresco or picnicking without bears.