Like the ivy plant, Mexican cuisine has spread far and wide across the United States and thrives in many cities. However, the chefs at El Sol de Tala are interested in getting back to the roots of Mexican cuisine, creating authentic Mexican food as they have since 1979. They make fresh guacamole to order, imbuing it with the tropical flavor of mango and nutty flavor of walnut, and braise succulent short ribs in Negra Modelo beer, pairing them with a rustic red salsa. Behind the bar, mixologists complement the kitchen's creations with margaritas crafted from fresh fruits and smooth reposado tequilas.
The decor heightens the experience of the food's flavors and aromas by transporting guests south of the border. A modest yellow brick building on the outside, the restaurant's interior combines lively, colorful fabric art and paintings with hacienda-style stucco archways. A 2-ton limestone fountain dominates the middle of the dining room, soothingly burbling throughout meals. Even the chairs sport artwork, bearing intricate images of the sun, moon, or macaw parrots that occasionally demand crackers dipped in fresh salsa verde.
Los Cabos Mexican Grill is awash in color, from the vibrant paintings that speckle the pink, green, and blue walls to the fruity frozen margaritas that line up on the bar. In the kitchen, chefs shower homemade enchiladas with bright-green salsa and deep-brown mole, topping overstuffed burritos and chimichangas with rainbows of pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. They fold fresh seafood into specialty entrees, such as citrusy fish ceviche and spicy shrimp a la diabla.
Behind the bar, servers whip up a range of specialty cocktails, such as blueberry margaritas and sweet frozen daiquiris. Customers recline in cushy booths and watch chefs prepare guacamole during entertaining tableside performances, marveling as they nimbly slice up fresh avocado, dice onions, and transform napkins into a flock of doves.
The kitchens inside La Bamba Fresh Mexican Food look a bit different than most restaurants. That's because they don't have a freezer or a fryer, and instead focus on fresh food cooked right in front of the customer. The restaurant's chefs start with traditional bolillos?a soft Mexican roll?or tortillas that are made specifically for the restaurant each day. In addition to the as-big-as-your-head La Bamba burrito, they craft tacos and tortas with meat or vegetarian fillings. Chefs can then add a spicy touch and splash dishes with their hot sauce, which is so popular people ask for it in bottles or pepper-spray form.
La Parada presents visitors with an impressive menu chock full of fresh seafood and shrimp cocktails, along with sizzling cuts of grilled beef and tortillas stuffed with slow-cooked meats. The bill of fare spans across the diverse culinary subsections of Mexican cuisine, with Veracruz-style tilapia filets and fresh octopus ceviche, tender morsels of pork carnitas, and towering trompos of succulent al pastor. Guests savor servings of chorizo, goat stew, and rajas con queso with the help of tacos, burritos, sopes, and osmosis. To wash the whole show down, the cantina slings a host of Mexican beers and micheladas.
The menu at El Taco King is printed in English and Spanish, a hint at the culinary roots of the burritos, enchiladas, and tacos therein. In the kitchen, chefs sear steak, pork, and chicken for tacos, along with less common butcher selections such as goat, tripe, and head meat. Bottles of wheat-hued Mexican beers clink together with the sound of a xylophonist’s tears falling, and happy sighs drift over bowls of flan and fried ice cream.
Flavors from the Bajio region of Central Mexico add a savory twist to the south-of-the-border fare served at Bajio Mexican Grill. Traditional spices from this mostly rural lowland region besprinkle proteins such as sweet pork and shrimp sautéed in honey butter, which chefs wrap in tortillas or hide under their toques to prepare for winter. Many plates arrive at tables garnished with Bajio's signature mango salsa for a final splash of sweet.