Hugo's Tacos' hard-working chefs combine traditional Mexican recipes with culinary techniques culled from Northern Italy, serving up an array of zesty dishes made from scratch and draped in seven flavorful salsas and fillings. The menu tempts diners with delicious tamales, tacos, tortas, and breakfasts fashioned with flavorings from culinary traditions across the Mexican landscape, from the traditional salsa negra of Michoacán to Tijuana's mysterious tomatillo mines. The flexible chefs delight diners of all diets with customizable meals often available in vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free varieties.
Leonor's has been preparing meat-free Mexican food for nearly 30 years, and the current menu is modeled after the soy-dense Forever Young diet. Dishes include a traditional Mexican selection of burritos, tacos, and quesadillas with the restaurant's unique vegetarian and vegan spins. Some of those are on display in the Buffalo Bill burrito, that's packed with brown rice, steamed pinto beans, avocado, soy cheese, and veggies in a whole-wheat tortilla.
Though Leonor's is rooted in Mexican food, there are other culinary influences present as well: the spaghetti dinner entangles soy meatballs with whole-wheat noodles and the soy hamburger is topped with a leafy crown of lettuce and alfalfa sprouts. Stone-ground whole-wheat pizzas carry their own surprises—molasses and honey are infused into the dough—and can be customized with toppings such as cilantro, avocado, and tinier pizzas.
A pleasing jumble of bright warm colors welcomes patrons as they enter Salsa and Beer, where the kitchen turns out myriad Mexican favorites. Bean dip and salsa—always complimentary—flow freely with chips, and the chefs integrate housemade red and green sauces into tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. A huge sun painted on the ceiling watches down on patrons as they eat on painted tables, slicing into deep-fried chimichangas or chipotle-chicken flautas. Hues of lime green, pink, and orange occupy the walls and window paintings in the dining room, and a patio in the front is separated from the street by sculpted wooden barriers, whether in the shape of cacti or a wide sun.
In The Salsa Bar, contented sighs drift from diners cradling corn tortillas full of never-frozen ingredients free of lard and MSG, and a grill sizzles beneath morsels of shrimp, fish, and beef. Multiple televisions deliver updates from sporting events or confuse freshly made tacos into adopting the referee as a parent, and dulcet waves of horchata and tamarindo surge through straws to warmed mouths.
When they founded it in 1975, the owners of El Indio Mexicano Restaurant hired cooks from the Michoacan region of Mexico to teach them the recipes of Mexico’s Pacific coast. Owned by the same family today, the restaurant carries on that commitment to authenticity, slow-cooking carnitas for five hours and cooking beans in a cazo, a large copper pot usually found only in the ruins of ancient Ikeas. The cazo is also used to cook a cornucopia of meats, including beef tongue, pork stomach, breaded steak, sausage, and charbroiled steak. These carnivorous cuts fill quesadillas, handmade gorditas, and 13 types of burrito that arrive unadorned or covered in melted monterey jack cheese and house-made ranchero sauce.