Ornate paper flags and glimmering stars are suspended from Fiesta Ole Mexican Restaurant’s colorful, tiled walls, accenting plates of authentic Mexican dishes that appear from the cocina. Chefs crease tortillas into tacos, fajitas, burritos, and enchiladas while sautéing a variety of meat, seafood, and vegetarian specialties. Bartenders pour cups full of Mexican beers and cocktails as dinner conversations blossom at tables and booths in the cheerful dining room. The restaurant hosts regular salsa nights, offering diners a reprieve from trying to dance with strangers’ great danes at the dog park.
At Mexico Lindo, heaping plates of sizzling meats and authentic Mexican dishes—the recipes for which were gleaned during owner Jose Perez’s time spent training in Mexico—emerge from the kitchen and head toward red-checkered tables. Tantalizing aromas of fresh corn tortillas mingling with the salty fragrance of chorizo and marinated pork fill the air, and glasses overflow with beer and wine brought from each diner’s home or vestigial wine spigot. China poblana, Mexico Lindo’s speciality, submerges two enchiladas under traditional mole, and packs an additional two with marinated pork and Oaxaca cheese.
Since its founding on Cinco de Mayo, 1989, El Taco Loco has sought to transport the flavors of a California taqueria to the East Coast without the help of preservatives, fillers, artificial flavoring, or lard. Along with classic fajitas, enchiladas, and carne-asada burritos, the extensive menu tweaks tradition with offerings such as the Mexican BLT taco and french fries with a piquant house spice blend, all of which can take on extra heat at the complimentary salsa bar. In the summer, sidewalk flower boxes beckon guests into El Taco Loco's storefront, designed to resemble a beach hut complete with grass roof and vacationing starfish.
When the Egoavil and Anguino families emigrated from Peru in 1992, there was an empty Mexican restaurant awaiting them in the United States. They quickly transformed the dining room with a bounty of Mexican and Peruvian art and the menu with a fusion of Mexican and Peruvian dishes, thanks especially to chef Said Anguiano's specialization in the cuisine of Mexico and and chef Carmen Egoavil's knack for Peruvian fare. Their efforts were so successful that they earned the Best of Lambertville Award in 2013.
Today, Anguiano stuffs fish inside tacos and Egoavil marinates the seafood in the ceviche dish’s lime juice and Peruvian peppers. She blankets chicken in a spicy pepper sauce in the aji de gallina dish, while Anguiano folds chicken into enchiladas, burritos, and tamales. The two countries’ traditional meals sit side-by-side on tables in the bright orange dining room or out on the pet-friendly patio.
Tortuga's Cocina keeps belly bearings delectably lubricated with an expansive menu of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and more. Dull appetites can be sharpened to deadly keenness with starters such as the guacamole dip ($9 for lunch, $10 for dinner) or the nachos supreme, layered with refried beans, ground beef, melted cheese, jalapeños, and sour cream ($12). With their bellies properly primed, diners can dig into house specials such as the chipotle shrimp, ($18), or the pollo mole, a boneless chicken breast marinated in chilis and slathered with a cocoa-based mole sauce ($16).
At El Sarape, the Marin family and their chefs eschew southwest and Tex-Mex recipes in favor of traditional and contemporary Mexican cuisine. Housemade corn dough morphs into chicken sopes and tortilla wedges, which diners dip into nachos with chihuahua cheese and pico de gallo. The kitchen also serves chipotle mashed potatoes beside pork tenderloin in tomatillo sauce and prepares skewers of shrimp and scallops Mazatlán style. At the bar, patrons can sample an array of tequilas while admiring the paintings adorning the walls, from a mural of a pastoral countryside to a topographical map of Mexico’s fourth dimension.