The kitchen crew at JJ’s Eatery nurses grumbling gastros with hearty homemade eats for every meal of the day. Morning munching commences with create-your-own omelets ($4.50+), or platters of irish eggs benedict ($9.50) accompanied by a mound of corned-beef hash shaped like James Joyce's head. A velvety cup of chowder ($4.50) highlights a bill of noon noshes, which includes 8-ounce cheeseburgers ($8.95), and piping hot plates of mac 'n' cheese speckled with grilled hot dogs ($6.95). Pintsize feasters can practice reading skills and tip calculations with JJ’s Kids Korner menu stocked with favorites such as grilled cheese ($3.95) and hot dogs ($3.95).
Mesa Verde mirrors its arts-district home with a colorful palette of homemade Mexican favorites adorned with fresh-salsa and sauce bursts. Chefs craft a dinner menu packed with crispy chimichangas, tamales made from a family recipe, and hearty vegetarian and vegan picks, including eggplant rollups and tempeh tacos. A special gluten-free menu boasts fajitas and enchiladas forged from corn tortillas. At the bar, fresh fruits and house-made sour mix marry international tequilas to create margaritas with green cards. The eatery also delivers and accepts take-out orders during lunch.
Warmth from the wood-burning oven just visible in the kitchen mingles with the soft diffused glow of overhanging punched lamps, filling the rustic space with a colonial Mexican ambiance. The chefs draw from modern, Old-World, and australopithecus cooking techniques while simmering dishes such as PEI mussels in chipotle butter, white wine, and mexican tequila. Whenever possible, they base their creations around sustainable seafood, local produce, and meat from grass-fed cows sourced from Pineland Farms. More than 80 tequilas, ranging from newborn blancos to 3-year-old anejos, populate the libations list, and the extensive wine list features vinos from Chile, Argentina, and Italy.
Amigo's daytime dining and lively bar scene by night provide a fiesta for Mexi-connoisseurs, college kids, and piñata lovers alike. Southwestern trailblazers can get going with the fresh-made guacamole and chips ($7), or dive right in for a sizzling order of fajitas with your choice of sautéed protein (from $11) or the deluxe enchiladas platter, made of two beef-, chicken-, or pork-filled corn tortillas topped with sauce, cheese, and sour cream ($11). Billiards and dartboards provide midmeal diversions, and the vivacious neighborhood atmosphere haunt lends buoyancy to postprandial jocularities and celebrations.
Many restaurateurs are groomed for their career path from infancy, growing up in kitchens where they bonded with family over lovingly prepared meals. Not Mario Herrera. He entered into the restaurant industry out of necessity, not nostalgia, tackling dishes by the sink-full as he earned money to put himself through college. And though he took the job for financial reasons, he soon found himself falling in love with it, unexpectedly nourished by the smiles of well-fed patrons. Mario began taking on different positions in the restaurant, serving meals and pouring cocktails until he learned the ins and outs of the entire process. Eventually he opened his own place, The Red Iguana, and he does everything he can to make the place feel like a second home for his staff, guests, and talking cartoon plates.
It's only natural: you'd almost have to live there to get through the menu's extensive selection of hearty Mexican dishes. There's a mix of tacos, burritos, and fajitas, of course, but it's his own creations that set the place apart. Unique appetizers play on traditional favorites, such as mole chicken wings or grilled-veggie nachos. The entrees—which are conveniently categorized by protein or veggie—include pork tenderloin with adobo sauce and grilled chicken topped with chorizo and pineapple. The camaron al mojo de ajo is a perennial favorite, a spread of shrimp sauteed with wine and garlic, all served atop rice and avocado salad.
Warm-hued walls hung with the work of local artists lend Bebe's Burritos & Cantina a cheerfully casual ambience in which to dine on zesty, belly-warming Mexican cuisine. Baja fish tacos, sweet potato burritos with jack cheese and scallions, and chicken enchiladas smothered in mole sauce are just a few specialties. Patrons can sip margaritas and draft beer as they dance to the music of local bands or take advantage of the cantina's complimentary Wi-Fi.
At Fresco Mexican Grill, the kitchen is fully outfitted with appliances, but one is noticeably absent—the microwave. Rather than reheating their Mexican cuisine, the culinary team crafts each dish from fresh ingredients culled from local farmers, whether they are mashing avocados into guacamole tableside, or stuffing quesadillas with cheese, chicken, and green chiles. Their fajitas—assembled with sizzling strips of jerk chicken or morsels of steak marinated in garlic, lime and tequila—complement other classic eats such as tacos, enchiladas, and chimichangas. Rounding out the menu is a smattering of American favorites and reinventions of classic dishes, such as black-bean lasagna, which adds a Mexican flair to an Italian specialty much like the mariachi band featured in every Verdi opera.