The burrito sits steaming on its plate at Casita Linda Mexican Restaurant. Like a bomb-squad technician, the curious diner wants to know how this thing ticks, and cuts an intricate window in the fresh tortilla casing. Tender beans, rice, and pico de gallo nestle in tangles of shredded chicken. It could have been carnitas, asada, or tender al pastor. The staccato snap of fajitas against the scalding onyx surface of the skillet interrupts the quiet and draws eyes to the menu. In minutes, the kitchen erupts with individual tacos and chipotle-infused enchiladas crowded with fistfuls of pork and beef. Plates clatter onto tables, and the comfortable silence of a meal in full swing fills the eatery as the sun beats down outside upon the red-clay tiled roof.
At Mondo Burrito, cooks prepare every menu item in front of your eyes. They squash avocados to make guacamole, deep-try tortillas to create chips, and hand-trim each cut of meat to minimize fat. Although they take pride in their simmered pork tacos and mahi-mahi burritos, they also prepare several vegetarian dishes, such as grilled veggie burritos and cheese quesadillas. To elevate the dining experience, the restaurant’s hosts seat guests in an air-conditioned dining room or at an enclosed outdoor patio.
Dona Maria Mexican Restaurant's menu depicts authentic Mexican cuisine constructed from fresh vegetables and hearty meats. Groups of two or four commence chow downs with a basket of tortilla chips and fresh guacamole, made in-house by skydiving avocados. Chefs line plates with traditional Mexican dinner platters such as enchiladas, chili rellenos, and chimichangas, as well as sautéed seafood platters that tout fresh tilapia fillets and shrimp. In addition to hearty meals, servers adorn tables with breakfast plates comprised of scrambled eggs sprinkled with chorizo or vegetables. Instead of bringing a hose nozzle from home, patrons can wash down spicy bites with a margarita or substitute the colorful concoction for another thirst quencher.
Mexicali Grill whips up authentic, fresh Mexican fare alongside specialty margaritas in a vibrant, open-kitchen setting. The menu kicks off with hunger-slaking appetizers such as quesadillas smothered in monterey jack and crammed with sizzling steak and smooth guacamole ($9.95). Fill gustatory voids with the doublewide enchiladas sulzas—two enchiladas stuffed with tomatillo sauce and chicken breast and coupled with rice and refrito beans ($11.50). Snuggled inside a tortilla sleeping bag, the burrito de camarones brims with rock shrimp sautéed in fresh roasted garlic ($11.75).
Though it first opened its doors way back in 1977, La Paloma still garners plenty of praise. Metro active, for instance, named it one of Silicon Valley's best Mexican eateries for 2013.
Now run by third-generation restaurateurs, La Paloma continues showcasing the classic Mexican flavors that made it popular, from shrimp fajitas served on sizzling skillets to tortas filled with steak, avocado, and grilled onions. Cooks cater to vegetarian diners as well with such dishes as enchiladas stuffed with mushrooms, spinach, and almonds. To help wash down each bite, bartenders craft plentiful libations, including a French take on margaritas made with tequila and Cointreau liqueur.
Since 1994, the chefs at Chacho's have been guarding the secrets of their time-honored family recipes for tacos, enchiladas, and burritos. They craft fresh ceviche, spicy salsas, and tamales from scratch as al pastor, chorizo, carne asada, and even soy substitutes sizzle on the grill. Outside the kitchen, bartenders concoct tangy margaritas, micheladas, and their signature chavelas upon a gleaming wooden bar, which reflects the star-shaped pendant lamps and thirsty ghosts that hang above.
The food and drinks aren’t the only thing that gives guests a taste of Mexican culture; Chacho's crimson-walled, loft-style dining room is at once both modern and rustic, breathing new life into old traditions through contemporary Day of the Dead–themed paintings, wall-mounted sculptures, and colorful sombreros.