Casa Mariachi serves up a menu of traditional Mexican fare to a soundtrack of stomach-pleasing melodies. Enter the lively environment and graze on the house guacamole, which is prepared tableside and served with freshly fried tortilla chips ($8.50), or find a traditionally garbed waiter and ask for a cup of hearty tortilla soup ($4.95) to distract your appetite until the main meal makes a debut. Like an oil tycoon, all fajitas arrive at the table engulfed in flames, and sizzling options such as fresh fish fillet ($14.45), chipotle-marinated chicken ($12.95), and steak ($13.95) remain tastily intact on the piping-hot skillet. Created by former Mexico-based tamale vendors, Casa Mariachi’s homemade tamales are filled with stone-ground corn and packed with seasoned chicken or perfectly spiced pork (five for $13.95). Pair your fare with a beverage from the long libations list, which describes drinks such as the chili pepper–infused signature mariachi margarita ($9) and Juanito’s organic margarita, which is made with organic lime, lemon, and orange ($12). On the weekends, guests can enjoy live mariachi entertainment and ballet folklorico dancing.
Surrounded by bright shades of lime green and rose, La Fogata serves savory Mexican recipes that embody authentic Mayan and Oaxacan flavors as much as Tex-Mex standards. The chefs use made-from-scratch ingredients as much as possible, from the guacamole made regularly in small batches to their library of salsas sorted according to the Dewey decimal system. Patrons can customize massive burritos to their heart’s content or let La Fogata’s cooks pack them with chili rellenos, seafood medleys, or fajitas with vegetables and meats. A combination of mild anchiote sauce, orange juice, lime juice, and spices marinates the Mayan-style grilled pork steak to give it a sweet and spicy touch. In a lounge-esque bar area, visitors toast goblets filled with frosty margaritas and sip pours from a selection of more than two dozen types of tequila. Check La Fogata's Facebook page for menu and specials updates.
Family owned for a little more than two decades, El Palenque treats guests to a range of regional fare, all handmade in accordance with time-tested generational recipes. Fresh ingredients populate a dinner menu crammed with savory Central American fare, such as the traditional chicharron pupusa (spiced pork, $10) and the hearty tamal (a corn dish with olives, potato, bell peppers, carrots, garbanzos, and feta cheese, $10), as well as Mexican mandible pleasures such as the palenque salad (meat, rice, beans, lettuce, avocado, and pico de gallo, $10). Many dinner items make guest appearances on El Palenque's lunch menu, mingling with creative co-stars such as the cheese and loroco pupusa (corn tortilla stuffed heartily with cheese and Loroco, El Salvador's most beloved and devoured tropical flower, $7) and the crispy chimichanga (accented with ranchera salsa, avocado, and sour cream, $10). Pair any plate with a cold glass of horchata ($3), a crisp glass of chardonnay ($7), or a well-fermented mug of imported cerveza ($4), the Spanish word for fiesta.