Rattlesnake Cantina operates under the idea that going out to eat should be like a mini vacation. The restaurant backs up that belief by leading its visitors on a colorful trip through the Southwest of the United States, complete with a vibrant wall mural of a Southwestern desert?s golden sand hills and pink and purple skies. Seated next to that mural, or in one of Rattlesnake?s other brightly lit nooks, you can tackle traditional Mexican specialties while sipping on a margarita or tipping an invisible cowboy hat in approval between bites. You can also try out the restaurant?s southwestern spin on American classics, including an avocado and chorizo burger and pork chops served with hot cherry peppers.
When Baja Fresh opened its doors in 1990, freshness wasn’t on the menu at many fast-food restaurants. Disappointed with soggy burgers and floppy fries, the founders built a casual Mexican eatery around fresh, colorful produce and a commitment to healthy living. Cooks prepare meals by hand, using ingredients that hail from real-world farms rather than freeze-dried packages. Tacos and burritos brim with a choice of meats, including pork carnitas and charbroiled steak. Filled with shrimp tacos, tortilla soups, and grilled-chicken salads, a Healthy Choices menu guides diners toward meals that are low in fat, calories, carbs, and smog.
El Norte Restaurant’s owners use their more than 35 years of experience working at restaurants in Texas and Northern Mexico to create authentic Mexican dishes to their exact specifications. Surrounded by Aztec-inspired paintings and sombreros hung on the walls, diners dig into pork carnitas, enchiladas suizas, and bowls of chopino. Whether bellied up to one of the restaurant’s two bars or seated at a table blanketed by a colorful tablecloth, guests enjoy the serenades of a mariachi band or the sound of a live harp player politely ordering a burrito. On weekends, karaoke and DJ-fueled dance sessions take over the restaurant’s spare room.
Trumpet blasts sail though Hacienda Mexicali Mexican Restaurant?s terracotta archways and soar beneath exposed beams before bounding off walls festooned with colorful mosaics. It?s the weekend, and the mariachi band has just begun to play, the sounds of their instruments mingling with the sounds of laughter and clinking cocktail glasses. Amid the merriment, diners devour plates of fresh guacamole, ranchero steak, and mussels in streams of herbed white-wine sauce. Meals conclude with Mexican coffee and flambe fried ice cream finalized at the table.
Chef and global restaurateur Richard Sandoval's innovative culinary style melds the precision of classically trained technique with the homestyle appeal of traditional Latin American flavors. Growing up in Mexico City, Sandoval first learned to cook alongside his grandmother as she prepared massive family feasts. He nurtured this passion at the Culinary Institute of America, which taught him the skills needed to forge contemporary French cuisine. However, in 1997, Sandoval decided to return to his roots and use those skills to prepare contemporary interpretations of the Mexican staples he remembered from childhood. Maya embraces this mélange of influences, and the menu "showcases some of the best Mexican food in the city," according to Fodor's. Although the chefs experiment from time to time, they mainly commit to faithful recreations of unmistakably classic dishes. The tableside guacamole can include inventive additions of smoky bacon or spicy crab, and the tequila-flambéed shrimp arrives with chipotle sauce as well as a black-bean purée. Dark, rich mole sauce adds flavorful complexity to a time-tested dish of roasted chicken, which the New York Times hailed as "the most impressive main course" in its 1997 restaurant review. The drink menu also embraces Mexican tradition, and it tempts diners with a selection of mezcal, sotol, and more than 125 tequilas. The bartenders even create their own flavored tequilas in-house by infusing the spirits with everything from jalapeño to roses and chamomile. Maya's terra-cotta-red and lemon-yellow walls add lively splashes of color amid the earthenware tiles and hardwood flooring. Crisp white tablecloths adorn a number of the stout wooden tables, although they don't distract from the collection of framed artwork that was custom-made in Mexico according to New York magazine and some guy who tried to touch them.
Mexican favorites meet Salvadoran specialties at Ranchito Victoria Restaurant and Bakery, which slings up both cuisines with equal aplomb for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A traditional Salvadoran breakfast, or desayuno tipico, starts the day off right with heaps of refried beans, cheese, and cream crowned with two eggs. Later in the day, savory entrees of cheese-stuffed peppers, salted beef, shrimp in garlic sauce, and pork in adobo sauce steal back the spotlight. Traditional sweets round out the meal and include plantain empanadas and tres leches cake, which contains three different types of milk—just like Gladys, the cow responsible for all the world's Neapolitan ice cream.