Salsa Salsa's cooks prepare sumptuous specialties such as BLT tacos, 3 way sizzling fajitas, and specialty quesadillas. Diners can also choose healthy options such as vegetarian eggplant chili or whole-wheat burritos filled with garlicky spinach. Over 60 types of tequila are offered as well as mixed margaritas and sangria muddled with premium spirits and fresh fruits.
A stunning woman stands offering a basket of guavas, mangoes, and prickly pineapples in her outstretched arms. Behind her, a roaring waterfall spills into a crystal-blue lagoon, on the outskirts of which sky-high trees shelter sprouting vegetables. Hand-painted murals such as these span the walls of Sante Fe Tequila's elegant dining room, where Mexican and Latin plates line tables like colorful brushstrokes on a canvas.
Rife with modern creative touches, the menu bristles with dishes such as whole deboned fresh-caught fish and shrimp and mussels sautéed in white wine. Quality takes precedent over haste as traditional ceviche slow-cooks in lime and skirt steak marinates for a full day in Patrón tequila—all to complement amply stuffed chilies, burritos, fajitas, and enchiladas available with seafood or chicken. After a martini or margarita made with premium liquor, patrons can end the meal by grabbing one of the eatery's bright red tablecloths to distract any stray bulls they encounter on the way to the car.
From the outside, the combination of Don Juan Mexican Restaurant's Mission-style structure and neon-purple signs hints at both a family restaurant that showcases Mexican, Southwestern, and Spanish cuisine as well as popular spot for nighttime lounging. Warm candlelight flickers atop clothed tables as the wait staff drops off plates of chillies rellenos, paella, or cilantro-lime salmon, culinary traditions that garnered notoriety from Massapequa Patch. After the sun sets and they turn back into humans, visitors arrive to celebrate nights on the town by sipping margaritas made from freshly squeezed fruit juice on an open-air patio. Vintage Mexican posters and colorful artwork line the earthy, clay-colored walls, which creates a homey yet elegant backdrop for feasts of cheesy enchiladas suizas or creamy custard flan.
As Lou Solis—owner of Don Carmelo's Mexican Grill—sees it, going out to a Mexican restaurant is a two-part experience. The first part is the food, which he bases on authentic Mexican family recipes and whispers from aging cacti. The second component is the air of festivity. “I loved the Mexican atmosphere,” Solis says. “It’s a party. It’s a destination. It’s not just to get something to eat quickly.” And the food is easy to savor––Solis sources his ingredients from Mexican distributors and fresh deliveries of local produce and meat every day.
Avocados, jalapeños, and tomatillos. These staples of traditional Mexican cuisine take center stage at Tacos Mexico, where the dishes’ rustic simplicity lets their flavors shine through. Chefs nestle tender morsels of steak, carnitas, or chorizo into corn tortillas to create their signature tacos, and they also turn out more complex entrees, such as cubes of pork loin blanketed in a rich mole sauce or vegetarian options that spotlight portabella mushrooms and cacti.
As guest conclude their meals with sweet nibbles of tres leches cake or coconut flan, they can listen to the ebb and flow of a soccer match broadcast on the flat-screen television hanging over the bar. Nearby, a belt of cornflower blue wraps around the dining room’s bright, yellow walls, which bear paintings of traditional Mexican pueblos rather than Mexico’s newest moon colonies.
Taco Loco complements its dinner and lunch menus with more than 50 premium tequilas, earning the title of Best Mexican Restaurant from readers of the Fairfield County Weekly and a 2007 feature in the New York Times. In the traditional spanish paella ($22.95 for dinner; $17.95 for lunch), bites of chicken and chorizo don miniature snorkels to mix with lobster, mussels, and scallops in a sea of spanish saffron rice. Chefs deep-fry grilled chicken and cheese inside blankets of tortillas, resulting in golden-brown chimichangas ($13.50 for dinner; $8.95 for lunch), and fill shrimp, steak, or mahi-mahi tacos ($12.95+ for dinner; $8.95+ for lunch) with fresh tomatoes and avocado. Thirsty patrons can toss back one of Taco Loco's more than 50 premium tequilas or share glasses of margaritas made with fresh fruit and garnished with blue agave's naturally salty seeds.