Everyone loved visiting the Macias household. Antonio and Sara?s hospitality was matched only by their elaborate Mexican dinners. After years of wildly successful dinners and parties, the duo decided to spread the good word and start their own restaurant. In 1974, they opened the first Mi Ranchito in Ontario, California, packing the tiny space with six tables and stocking the kitchen with fresh produce, meat, and seafood.
Decades later, and Antonio and Sara?s small eatery has replicated itself into three locations across California. Their children and grandchildren join them in the kitchens, where they fold fresh ingredients and handcrafted sauces into traditional enchiladas, chili rellenos, and carnitas. Meanwhile, bartenders blend top tequilas into a variety of innovative margaritas and specialty drinks. In the dining rooms, hand-painted murals of tropical birds, colorful Mexican artwork, and the party-hat wearing condors who serve the food create a festive atmosphere. The restaurant's uncompromisingly fresh and delicious cooking, innovative drinks, and welcoming environment have been lauded by a slew of press publications and won the restaurant the award for Best Mexican Food from Inland Empire Magazine.
Owner Ernesto Madrigal founded his restaurant in downtown La Verne because, as he told the University of La Verne's Campus Times in 2010, "I just thought this was a nice little quiet place to start.” However, the vivid hues in the dining room create an atmosphere that's more festive than quiet, with bright orange walls accompanying the cacophonic sputtering of chicken and steak fajitas or diners doing Don Knotts impressions. The menu overflows with familiar Mexican staples from just south of the International Date Line, including carnitas burritos, chipotle-spiced empanadas, and chorizo with scrambled eggs.
Judy and Jim Moore, owners of Cafe Cabo Mexican Restaurant, refer to their customers as "mijo" and "mija"—meaning son and daughter in Spanish. “Once you walk in, you are part of our family. We want you to feel at home,” Judy told Tennille Lindsey-Wright of La Verne Magazine. This family sentiment really shouldn't come as a surprise, considering Judy's main inspiration, and not to mention all of her recipes, come from years of watching her mother prepare decadent Mexican cuisine.
“Of my mother’s five kids, I was the one to maximize her recipes. My family would always call me, asking how to make certain dishes," Judy explained to Tennile. "With four children of my own, I found myself cooking a lot of [her] recipes." By opening Cafe Cabo in 2010, Judy’s dream of sharing her mother’s cuisine became a reality, as she, her husband, and her son today serve a menu of tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, all made to-order to accommodate meat lovers and vegetarians alike. Whether it's golden-fried fish tacos wrapped in a corn tortilla or chicken fajitas that sizzle all the way to the table, every feast at the cafe is enjoyed amid scenic coastal-view paintings and warm, rustic décor modeled after the Moore’s favorite vacation spot, Cabo.
It's been nearly three decades since the first Taco Factory Inc opened its doors, and though the business has expanded to other locations, some things haven't changed. Chefs at all locations still rely on the same family recipes to craft a menu of authentic Mexican cuisine. The guacamole that tops the restaurant's tacos, tostadas, and burritos, for example, is still made fresh in-house, and the salsas and tortilla chips are always handmade. Breakfast, which is served till noon, features hearty eye-openers like egg and bean burritos or huevos rancheros, while a variety of vegetarian options cater to those in search of lighter fare.
Margaritas, beers, and strawberry daiquiris fuel a lively atmosphere inside Taco Hut, where servers transport platters of fajitas, chimichangas, and other Mexican fare in the glow of flat-screen TVs. Besides tortilla-based eats, a selection of piled-high burgers help warm up jaws before attempts to impress dates by reciting the entire phone book.
A family Mexican restaurant by day, Tequila Bar & Grill transforms into a nightclub at night, at which point couples groove to salsa tunes played by live bands and Djs or sing Spanish and English karaoke. Patrons dine on authentic cuisine, such as tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas amid exposed brick walls and south of the border-inspired tiling.