A colorful mural of a lakeside beach stretches across Casita del Lago's dining room—a nod to the restaurant's name, which translates to "little house by the lake." Soft hanging lanterns and a crackling fireplace bathe the room in light, illuminating the colorful glazed pottery that lines the walls. In the kitchen, chefs chop fresh ingredients for the homemade salsa that glazes over traditional dishes, as saucepans simmer with their signature mole sauce. Behind a sprawling bar, bartenders dole out pitchers of fruity margaritas and bottles of imported Mexican beer. Outside, tabletops speckle their outdoor patio and bar, where guests can bask beneath the sunlight.
Si Señor fills estómagos with a menu of authentic Mexican fare served amid mosaic-topped tables and brightly colored walls. Skilled chip-chopping cooks compile their fresh and never-frozen ingredients to concoct steak, chicken, and seafood fajitas served in sizzling skillets ($13.50–$16.99) and savory vegetarian options such as a plate piled with a chili relleno, a cheese enchilada, rice, and refried beans ($8.50). Grilled chicken or steak, melted cheese, and pico de gallo flow down the sides of a nacho mountain in the la bamba nachos plate ($10.50), and the eatery's Popeye's pollo blends grilled chicken breast, spinach, melted cheese, and Olive Oyl ($11.99). Mexican-fare munchers can seal the meal's deal with a creamy cheesecake encased in a fried tortilla ($3.99) or a scoop of fried ice cream ($4.99).
Seasoned staffers wheel a small cart directly up to dining room tables, where they smash avocados into a palatable paste of fresh guacamole right before guests' eyes. This appetizer fuels treks through Cinco de Mayo Amigos Cantina's lengthy menu, which spotlights Mexican favorites infused with authentic ingredients such as pork carnitas, carne asada, and spicy mole sauce. The restaurant's exposed brick walls house weeknight karaoke, as well as other weekly events including Salsa Night on Saturday, Ladies' Night on Thursday, and Day Planner Appreciation Night on Tuesday. On the outdoor patio, guests can get their fill of fresh air and sunshine as they sample 20 varieties of margaritas.
Jesus Angel became a restaurateur by happenstance. Working for nearly 30 years in the auto industry, Jesus drew crowds of coworkers at lunchtime that clamored to sample the Guadalajara native's Mexican dishes. Intrigued, he hit the streets and toted his food to local festivals, steadily building a following that would propel him into a second career. Today, El Camino Real spans three locations across Northwest Ohio. In addition to the menu of dishes from his homeland, Jesus's restaurants draw patrons with citrusy margaritas, live mariachi bands on weekends, and patios and dining rooms decked out with Spanish tile work and atomic clocks set to the Mayan calendar. These features have earned El Camino Real a place on Toledo City Paper's Best of 2011 list.
El Tipico is a 42-year-old family-run establishment that prepares handmade Mexican cuisine fresh daily using pure vegetable oil, real Mexican spices, and family recipes (entrees are $6.95 to $19.95). To lick a Mexican-cuisine rainbow, try a combination platter such as the #1 Mexican Dinner, which includes a beef-tip burrito, cheese enchilada, taco, tostado, rice, and beans. The El Tipico nachos––composed of nacho chips topped with cheese, onions, jalapeños, beans, guacamole, ground beef, chicken, sour cream, and tomatoes––could be a hearty starter or a disguised main course. For dessert, the Sweet Chimi, a deep-fried, strawberry-filled flour tortilla rolled in cinnamon and sugar and topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry, will satisfy the ravenous cravings of your mouth's most ambitious sweet tooth.
Mexican dishes both classic and newly invented sizzle on the signature plates at OK Patron Fajita Bar. The name OK Patron, which translates to "OK, boss," belies the restaurant's dedication to customer service. American specialties accompany the Mexican dishes featured on the lunch buffet each afternoon, along with chicken, steak, vegetable, shrimp, and scallop fajitas. Family recipes serve as the blueprint for dishes such as tortilla soup, which pairs crispy tortillas with garden vegetables, cheese, and a cure for the fear of soup.