Acapulco Mexican Restaurant attracts throngs of pepper-tolerant teethers with its hearty fare, family-friendly atmosphere, and picturesque views of Matanzas Bay. Try a veg-centric or meatavore- friendly burrito supreme ($9.95), or hunker down with its fried cousin, the chimichanga ($9.95). Service is always as friendly as early-period Mr. Rogers, before he got ornery in 1991, and diners can head outdoors for sight-soothing views of Matanzas Bay and Castillo de San Marcos. Peruse the menu before heading in for tortilla-wrapped dining deliverance.
Cabo Taco Mexicali Grill stuffs each taco, burrito, and quesadilla on its menu with fresh ingredients full of south-of-the-border flavor. Nosh on inspired nibbles such as the tequila lime chicken tacos decorated with salsa, cilantro sauce, and cheese composed in crunchy or soft tortilla frames ($3.99 each; two for $7.50). Tackle the cabo burrito, a tortilla-tamed tornado of taste swirling with goodies including blackened mahi, rice, beans, avocado, and mango ($9.99), or sample a lineup of specials that change weekly, just like the public opinion on formal toe socks. Cabo Taco's beach-themed dining room opens at 11 a.m., delivering a breakfast menu of egg-enhanced dishes such as the breakfast dilla—a warm tortilla folded around veggies, cheese, scrambled eggs, and choice of meat ($5.99) —and flaky plantain and brown-sugar stuffed turnovers drizzled with house-made agave sauce, offering a less sticky, but just as sweet, alternative to an early-morning syrup-soak ($3.50 each).
Over the last century, many traditional Mexican dishes have found a comfortable home in American kitchens, from nachos covered in savory toppings to enchiladas and many variations of tacos. Luckily, when visiting El Porto Mexican Restaurant, guests don’t have to choose one of their favorite Mexican dishes over another. Instead they mix and match the shop’s combination dinners. Chefs pair tacos filled with carne asada, marinated pork loin, or fish with enchiladas, chalupas, and chili rellenos.
Chefs even create pairings specially designed for vegetarians, subbing in mushrooms, bell peppers, and spinach for the traditional meats of their dishes. The one thing that doesn’t come with these pairings is desserts, and options range from caramel-kissed flan to deep-fried tortillas filled with bananas, honey, strawberries, and whipped cream like the blimp in a great dream.
New Mexico-grown chilies, Alaskan king crab, and Iowan beef sizzle and pop in the skillets at Campeche Bay Cantina, whose home-style kitchen turns out both traditional dishes and unexpected takes on familiar flavors. Chorizo quesadillas and carne asada tacos compete for diners' affections with chicken or steak fajita sandwiches and the key lime or mud pies.
Cyclones Tex Mex Cantina entwines Mexican cuisine with flavors of the Lone Star state with a menu of traditional burritos, fajitas, and tacos, spiced up with spreads of charbroiled chicken and bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp. Food ferriers walk through brick archways balancing platters of handmade chicken or pork tamales ($9), presenting them to diners lounging in comfy green booths. The Camarones Mazatlan sees six jumbo shrimp marinated in garlic and butter, then skewered on a lance by a miniature knight and brought to the table with tomato slices and avocado ($13). The Tacos Gringos enfold a vegetarian mix of beans, cheese, tomatoes, and guac ($8), while a sweet duet of flan ($4) and Texas Oil mud pie ($5) fill out the menu’s desserts section. Barflies can perch or headstand on stools at a corrugated-tin counter and lick the salt from Cyclones Tex Mex Cantina’s specialty margaritas.
The cooks at El Ranchito cobble together an expansive menu of authentic dishes that draw on Colombian, Cuban, and Mexican culinary traditions. Friends and families can warm up their taste buds beside the spicy fires of six empanadas Columbiana ($4.99), each filled with a special blend of beef and exotic spices ($4.99). Scuba gear and SPF 30 sour cream are not required to enjoy the crispy, Colombian-style tilapia of the mojarra frita ($12.99), though palates may benefit from juggling lessons before they attempt to handle the diverse flavors of sirloin, pork sausage, pork rinds, and plantains in the traditional Colombian bandeja paisa ($12.99). Plates of seasoned carne asada ($9.99) allow diners to relive past visits to Mexico without glancing down at their eagle-and-snake tattoos, while the fresh-roasted pork of the Cuban lechon asado with mojo sauce ($8.99) testifies to the untold treasures of Caribbean cuisine.