Amid the vibrant décor of Vega Mexican Cuisine, chefs treat patrons to a menu suffused with gooey quesadillas, piping-hot soups, house-made tortillas and salsas, and a host of organic ingredients. Diners can warm belly motors with a bowl of creamy poblano chili soup—corn kernels, potatoes, and mushrooms drenched in cheese—beneath the watchful eyes of a Frida Kahlo portrait or anchor fork tines in a salmon salad drizzled in a honey-chipotle creamy dressing. An eclectic assortment of chandeliers bathes colorful booths in warm lighting as dinnertime eaters sup on shrimp fajitas, which conceal adobo spices and Carmen Sandiego beneath a medley of onions, bell peppers, and cilantro.
Carne asada, chiles rellenos, quesadillas—these dishes have become familiar sights on a Mexican restaurants menu. Gusano Loco's bill of cuisine lists these, as well as carefully crafted house specialties. For the carne arrachera, the kitchen crew marinates steak in a zesty house barbecue sauce, while for the seafood chiles, poblano peppers burst with sautéed shrimp and garlic. Meanwhile, waitstaff pours pitchers of the house sangria, made with wine and fresh fruit, which can make for a well-round meal that hits all levels of the food pyramid—meat, fruit, and stuff that tastes like candy.
At Que Chula es Peubla, a parade of friendly servers carts out plates laden with torta de milanesas, burritos, tacos, grilled pork chops, and steaks. Live musicians and a sunny surrounding of murals, red tile accents, and adobe-colored walls make for a charming atmosphere, perfect for sipping frosty margaritas and chowing down on fajitas and chicken mole.
Like many New Yorkers, Bruce Beck arrived in the city after studying theater; like many more still, he stayed for the food. Since joining the industry in 1979, Bruce has opened his own chocolate shop, written two cookbooks, taught chefs at The New School in Manhattan, and opened two restaurants—including the Mexican-inspired eatery Taco Sueño and its successor, Yucatán.
At the latter restaurant, chefs complement their familiar tacos and burritos with specialties such as pollo dorado a la Yucatán—a crispy half-chicken with chile habanero dipping sauce, pineapple slaw, and fries. At the full bar, mixologists prepare classic cocktails such as the margarita, a drink made to taste like the Caribbean's fruity, salt-rimmed waters.
At Badlands Tacos, diners are transported to the titular locale upon gazing at the eatery's southwestern decor. Cow skulls adorned with feathers and bright ceramic art festoon the umber-colored walls. From behind a walk-up counter, a chalkboard menu displays an array of Mexican tacos, chimichangas, and 11 kinds of enormous burritos filled with fixings such as flank steak, cilantro, and guacamole. Badlands Tacos offers numerous ways to celebrate Cinco De Mayo: from booths and tables at their BYOB restaurant, outdoor seating, catering for special occasions, or take-out to feed pet llamas hidden under the porch.
A bar of house-made sauces and salsas offers flavorful blends crafted from fresh ingredients that add surprise and spice to tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. The roster of fresh veggies, spiced meat, and organic house-made refried beans that form the base of all Picante! feasts are delivered daily, with unusual touches such as shredded cabbage and pickled onions providing unexpected twists in tacos more safely than hiding a brick under a tortilla. Soy cheese and whole-wheat tortillas add additional healthy touches to the lineup of vegetarian, low-carb, and low-fat options, and house-made tortilla chips deftly dip in and out of fresh guacamole and queso.