Aqueous hues of neon blue and purple wash over visitors to Agave Grill as they take a seat beneath a larger-than-life strip of sinuous camera film. This cinematic environ hosts cuisine blending traditional Mexican dishes with Spanish influence, mimicking the confluence of cultures in Latin America. In addition to steaming enchiladas and burritos, chefs create entrees of tender marinated carnitas or steak picado covered in cayenne-pepper sauce. Schools of seafood populate the kitchen's specialty roster, from fresh-fish tacos to paella—in which simmering saffron rice is surrounded by sausage, scallops, prawns, and other morsels. Beneath bas-reliefs of Aztec and Mayan-style masks, the staff serves libations from a lengthy library of tequila and mescal, neat or spun into margaritas.
Agave also boasts an attached nightclub, where spiraling lights surround the revelers within. DJs spin tunes in two different rooms, one devoted to salsa and Latin rock and the other thrumming with R&B and house music—which is not when furnace and faucet sounds sync up to the tune of “Born in the U.S.A.”
For generations, Ivalina and Adelio’s family have jotted down guidelines for crafting dishes in the tradition of Zacatecas, a north-central region of Mexico. Today, the father-daughter duo reap the rewards of their ancestors’ ingenuity and excellent penmanship at Memo's Mexican Cuisine, an eatery spotlighted by Check, Please! for its exceptional eats. Its chefs intertwine fresh ingredients, many hailing from local farmers' markets, and house-made sauces into dishes made fresh every day. Nicknamed The Royal Dish, chicken pipian is a signature dish and a traditional wedding-day entree, which showcases a chicken breast coated with an original sauce containing pumpkin seed, nine chilies, and 12 different herbs. At the bar, a wide selection of quality tequilas tempt shot glasses or find their way into margaritas. Catering services offer the same libations and fare without the restaurant's saffron and blue walls, which are partially obscured behind Mexican artwork.
Salsa Verde's culinary researchers memorize a library of Mexican recipes to give diners a menu laden with traditional Central American dishes. An array of tortilla-swathed favorites warm up empty hands with burritos built around fillings such as steak, chile rellenos, or shrimp ($5.49–$7.25) and meat-filled Mexico City–style tacos ($1.25) outfitted with an exotic ensemble of cilantro, onions, mild salsa, and a poster from the 1968 Summer Olympics. Selfish diners chomp away on the carnitas chipotle-barbecue torta, doused with coleslaw and sweet barbecue sauce ($5.75), and pairs divvy up the molcajete mixture of grilled chicken, steak, and chorizo cooked in salsa and oaxaca cheese ($16.99). The bistec ranchero coats a tender grilled steak with lime and olive oil before topping it with grilled onions, tomatoes, and mild serrano peppers ($9.25), and enchiladas filled with shredded chicken or seasoned beef swim in a choice of savory red sauce or the restaurant's signature salsa verde ($7.95). Pair south-of-the-border fare with a choice of fountain drinks or icy Corona beers to extinguish mouths set on fire by spicy foods or spiteful wisdom teeth still mad about being kicked out of the jaw.
• 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.
Los Panchos crafts delicious Mexican cuisine from fresh ingredients and traditional recipes, filling its menu with more than 75 south-of-the-border standouts. Rather than calming grumbling tummies by taking a nap in a life raft as it gently sways away from the shore, guests may stuff them with burritos brimming with refried beans, guacamole, and a choice of chicken, beef, or pork ($8.50). Juicy pork carnitas can fill soft tacos ($3.25 each), enchiladas ($3.50 each), or deep-fried chimichangas ($5.75), or erupt from cheesy mountains of nachos ($8.50). Like a traffic light, chili verde’s sauce comes in a choice of green or red ($9.25), letting diners barrel into spiciness or pause to savor a mild chili flavor with each meaty bite.