At Morelia Mexican Grill, generations of the Arreola Family cook up recipes from their ancestral home in Morelia, Mexico, captivating diners with savory dishes of chicken, seafood, steak, and pork. The restaurants immerse guests in an atmosphere of Mexican art and culture, with stone pillars and friezes decorated in Mesoamrican-style carvings and colorful wall-sized Diego Rivera?style murals. The dishes that sparkle against that backdrop included the shrimp-stuffed avocado, Fajitas Romanas, and mixed grill plates of quail and steak.
A decade is a long time to be in the restaurant, but MasFajitas Mexican Restaurant's three kitchens haven't slowed down in all that time. The owners attribute their success to their signature dishes, including the cadillac fajita, a medley of veggies, tender chicken or beef, and all the bell and whistles from creamy guacamole to handmade pico de gallo. They keep things fresh by working contemporary American ingredients into their menu, such as grilled catfish or a cheese and spinach quesadilla. The kitchen can also export its wares via its catering service, available for parties of any size, from intimate gatherings of friends to huge gatherings of strangers who you will turn into friends with your benevolence and Mexican food.
Campo Azul Bar & Grill's kitchen uses local and seasonal ingredients to recreate Mexican cuisine. As you sip a signature drink such as the blue margarita, El Campotini, Cantaritos, or Micheladas, the staff will bring over plates of fajitas that sizzle directly on your table. The chefs can also grill signature dishes including Molcajete Cielo Mar y Tierra, Que me ves Alambres, La Pina Azul, and street tacos made also from scratch. Before calling it a meal, it's worth it to try one of Campo Azul's decadent dessert inventions, such as the flan and Arroz con Leche.
When he immigrated to America, Jesse Berenji took a job in the kitchen at a family member's Mexican restaurant. By keeping a close eye on all aspects of the business, he was soon able to pioneer his own Mexican place—El Patron Restaurant & Cantina. The cooks here fry hand-breaded boneless-chicken breast drizzled with cilantro sauce, for example, and prepare El Patron fajitas—chicken and beef with sautéed veggies on a heated platter, served with homemade tortillas for creating edible Venn diagrams. The menu even touches on American classics such as burgers and chicken tenders.
At Nopalitos Cantina & Grill, chefs prepare authentic Mexican eats, specializing in seafood. They whip up dishes such as fish tacos, crab chimichangas, and crab chile relleno—a Poblano pepper stuffed with crabmeat and cheese and topped with verde sauce. To augment the authenticity, the interior of the restaurant is designed to look like an outdoor Mexican plaza, with old-fashioned street lamps and brick-lined windows.
What's in a name? When it comes to The Green Mesquite BBQ & More, pretty much everything. As one of its gift-shop T-shirts will tell you, the restaurant has been "horrifying vegetarians since 1988," and that enduring success can largely be attributed to what's inside the barbecue pit: log after log of green mesquite wood.
Owner Tom Davis opts for that particular fresh-cut variety because of its slow-burning property, and because it gives meat a bold and smoky flavor. Davis and his team cook everything from beef and pork to chicken and turkey over the wood. They also make their own barbecue sauce and a signature rub for their baby back ribs, which Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives host Guy Fieri called "awesome."
It's not just the smoked meats that distinguish Green Mesquite's three Austin-area locations. It's also that the restaurants double as venues for live music?specifically of the bluegrass and country variety?and that the restaurants welcome dogs, provided they bring along a well-behaved owner.