Named for a Spanish legend about the romance between a sailor and a mermaid, Salty Senorita encourages guests to fall in love with their over 50 hand crafted margaritas instead. Waiters carry deep bowls of guacamole with handmade tortilla chips, plates of shrimp and mango quesadillas, and 11 kinds of tacos, which can be accompanied by 130 kinds of tequila and various mixed drinks. Waitresses' tank tops and short-shorts continue the beachside vibe created by shark frescos and blue-mosaic columns that sometimes fling seaweed at passersby.
On a roadside in the Verde Valley, a restaurant beckons to passersby with the scents of hearty, home-cooked Southern and Southwestern cuisine. Nate's Cowboy Cafe relishes in its charming frontier aesthetic, a place where guests can sink their teeth into a well-marbled, charbroiled ribeye, sip margaritas from mason jars, or say "consarn it" without attracting any funny looks. Friendly, cowboy-hat clad servers roll out pints of frosty beer and plates laden with country-fried steaks, smoked-salmon tacos, and succulent, slow-cooked baby back ribs.
Successfully polishing off one of Blu Burger's signature creations isn't always an easy feat. Described as "delightfully messy" by Metromix Phoenix, the meaty towers and onion buns teeter under the weight of generous portions of applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, and melted cheeses dripping with housemade sauces. Though some diners try to tackle the five signature selections, others extend their culinary creativity to design their own burgers, choosing from an eclectic variety of bases—including Black Angus or Kobe beef, bison, and portobello mushrooms. Customers further customize patties with their choices of buns, cheeses, specialty toppings, and more than 10 types of sauces, which join the selection of 12 craft beers on tap.
In the bustling dining room, tinted windows cast a blue hue on funky artwork and colorful hanging lights. Outside, blue umbrellas speckle the courtyard, protecting diners from both the elements and the notice of paragliding Hamburglars.
Crazy Earl's perfectly safe restaurant seduces patrons with the occasional nylon timbres of mariachi bands and a globally inspired menu. The Chimichanga Special piques and sates hearty hankerings with beef or chicken enchiladas joined by sour cream and guacamole ($10.49), while 9'' hand-tossed pizzas feature the Greek Combo with feta, gyro, and black olives in a sea of marinara and mozzarella cheese ($9.29). Breakfast-minded eaters are privy to the home-style flavors of biscuits and gravy ($3.29), and bread stuffers can follow a trail of bread crumbs to the 100%-Angus-beef South of the Border Burger with bacon, cheese, and guacamole ($8.99), as well as fried fish filet sandwiches ($8.99).
Though you can walk or drive up to the window for food at Brushfire Tacos y Tapas, this is no classic drive-thru restaurant. That's because Executive Chef John Simmons and Chef Gregg Piazzi have worked to create a menu that is both quick yet cultured, like a Formula One race through a museum. They specialize in Latin and Spanish cuisine, with half the menu dedicated to their house-marinated tacos and burritos and half dedicated to Spanish tapas.
The expert chefs roll together carne asada, al pastor pork with pineapple, and shrimp adobado style in flour tortillas to make both tacos or burritos. They can even swap out tortillas for a bed of greens to create taco bowl salads. But guests don't always have to choose between tacos and tapas. The kitchen also offers combos that pair a chosen Mexican dish with a soda, chips and salsa, and one tapa of choice. These come in varieties such as battered shrimp with a sweet and spicy sauce, or ham and cheese croquetas. Five styles of salsa add spice to dishes, from the mild version made with only a hint of jalapeno to the inferno salsa made with super-hot habaneros and a brimstone reduction.