Since 1974, Viva Zapata’s interior has cloaked diners in rustic comfort, complete with brick walls and wooden beams from a 200-year-old barn. A suit of armor stands guard at the eatery’s entrance, scaring away door-to-door jousters but allowing all others to enter the softly lit dining area bedecked with Mexican tapestries and antiques. Candlelight flickers across wooden tables that support homemade enchiladas, burritos, and marinated steak flanked by grilled peppers and onions. Baskets of complimentary peanuts beckon guests to throw spent shells on the ground as they did in the days before legumes grew naturally in prepackaged canisters, and barrel lamps at the bar illuminate a selection of domestic and imported beers and freshly concocted margaritas.
Helmed by Prasad Chirnomoula—accomplished owner and executive chef of multiple area restaurants—Oaxaca Kitchen infuses palates with the flavors of Mexico. Guests can dig into hanger steak one of two ways--marinated and grilled with jalapeno pan juices or cooked with avocado and maguey leaves—before tippling tequilas from the sizable drink menu. Huevos rancheros and bloody marias make appearances at brunch while live music, like the desire to shout “TGIF!” unironically, crops up on Friday nights.
Fresco's chefs strive to recreate the flavors of Mexico City using fresh ingredients. Diners can bite into fajitas, pork chops with an orange chili sauce, or opt for an entrée such as chicken marinated in coconut rum and baked inside a coconut shell. Rich, red mole sauce simmers with gulf shrimp, and roasted peppers and onions compliment chorizo sausage that's made on-site. House-made drinks made with fresh ingredients are poured at the bar, mixing margaritas from a tequila bar with over 50 different tequilas to choose from.
No Name Tortilla Grill's menu lassos in passersby with traditional south-of-the-border fare. Bite into a burly burrito packed with flavorful fillings, such as veggies, steak, ground beef, pulled turkey, or grilled chicken ($6.49–$8.99), or nosh on a leafy salad served in a homemade tortilla bowl and topped with a choice of prime proteins ($6.79–$7.99). Eager eaters can quell hunger with the chicken torta, an 8-inch flatbread pizza with grilled chicken, rice, beans, sauteed veggies, and pico de gallo, covered in melted cheese ($6.79). Strengthen the stomach’s relationship with tortillas by gnawing on a quesadilla ($7.49–$7.99), fajita ($9.49–$9.99), and taco ($3.89), or by partnering up in a three-legged race. Keep lonely meals company with a side of tortilla chips, which arrive with most entrees, and nimbly scoop complimentary homemade salsa or judgmental guacamole ($0.99).
A stone’s throw from the shore, Ortega’s Mexican Restaurant greets visitors with warm wood and terra-cotta tones throughout its interior. The kitchen churns out sizzling shrimp fajitas, taquitos, and chicken enchiladas topped with melted cheese, and the bar serves mojitos and margaritas in freshly grown cactus glasses.
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.