Casa De Nana lives up to the warmth and tradition implied by its name, which translates to grandmother's house. Founded in 1968, the cantina still retains many of the same Mexican recipes designed by its founders. The chefs make their own chips, salsa, and hot sauce and whip up favorites such as spinach enchiladas, blackened-shrimp tacos, and Nana's Diablo, a spicy chimichanga with ranchero sauce, pico de gallo, and jack cheese. At the bar, the staff serves Mexican beers and specialty margaritas crafted from more than 30 types of tequila as televisions practice broadcasting live sports.
What goes well with tableside-mashed guacamole, tilapia baja fish tacos, and fried poblano peppers stuffed with chipotle chicken? Tequila. The northeast's largest selection of tequila, according to staff. Mama Iguana pairs a menu of Spanish-written dishes with more than 200 tequilas, which they use to kick-start their popular house and specialty margaritas. Patrons can sip drinks and bite into tacos while seated in the restaurant's colorful indoor dining area, out on the 100-seat outdoor patio, or standing in the doorway armed with poblano peppers in each hand.
The chefs at Acapulcos Mexican Family Restaurant & Cantina aim to cook authentic Mexican dishes unaltered by any Tex-Mex influence. Their recipes reach back generations within the owners' family and several miles into their underground tortilla vaults. Spanish-speaking servers deliver simple combinations of protein or veggies, topped with vibrant sauces: carne asada steak dressed in green pepper and guacamole, tender pork loin in tomatillo sauce, chicken in chocolate mole. The chefs' adherence to tradition doesn't preclude experimentation. Case in point: the dessert burrito, a lightly fried tortilla wrapped around apple-cinnamon or creamy cheesecake filling.
Both the menu and the decor change slightly from location to location?a painting of Mexico here, a tiled mosaic there. Each one, however, has a full bar where bartenders mix margaritas and flat-screen TVs broadcasting sports overhead.
A smiling statue of a mariachi musician named Pepe keeps watch over Auténtica Mexican Restaurant’s dining room and menu of classic and contemporary Mexican dishes. Red and green chilies sourced from New Mexico add an extra kick to dishes ladled with Auténtica’s housemade sauces, such as extra-large 10-inch burritos filled with grilled vegetables and chicken, soft ground beef tacos, and housemade tamales. The menu also includes vegan and gluten-free iterations of quintessential Mexican flavors and recipes.
At Jalisco Restaurant, the Rodriguez family whips up traditional Mexican dishes enhanced by fresh veggies, natural-aged cheeses, and homemade, preservative-free corn tortillas. Every day, chefs blend sauces and marinades from scratch to match with top sirloin steak, pork loin, and lamb shank, as well as ocean-fresh red snapper, prawns, scallops, and Dungeness crab. Crisp chips emerge from the fryer mere hours before appearing on tables to scoop up salsas or remnants of vegetarian burritos stuffed with cactus and black beans. Against a vibrant backdrop of yellow and adobe-colored walls, bartenders rim margarita glasses with salt and lime wedges or feed tropical cocktails to thirsty piñatas.
Dining at a Mexicali Fresh Mex Grill is a different experience in every city. While every location shares the same Guadalajara based menu—with plates of authentic enchiladas, fajita burgers, and flautas covered in ranchero cheese—the decor of their dining rooms varies from location to location. In Spencer, Massachusetts, diners gaze at warm-toned desert paintings and statues of running horses, whereas the Ware, Massachusetts, location treats the eyes to views of blue-tiled divides and potted plants. In Holden, Massachusetts, a look around the dining area gives customers views of brightly painted walls on which ponchos and hats are hung, simultaneously providing colorful scenery and ideas for repurposing their old swimming trunks at home.