The chefs at Acapulcos Mexican Family Restaurant & Cantina aim to cook authentic Mexican dishes unaltered by any Tex-Mex influence. Their recipes reach back generations within the owners' family and several miles into their underground tortilla vaults. Spanish-speaking servers deliver simple combinations of protein or veggies, topped with vibrant sauces: carne asada steak dressed in green pepper and guacamole, tender pork loin in tomatillo sauce, chicken in chocolate mole. The chefs' adherence to tradition doesn't preclude experimentation. Case in point: the dessert burrito, a lightly fried tortilla wrapped around apple-cinnamon or creamy cheesecake filling.
Both the menu and the decor change slightly from location to location?a painting of Mexico here, a tiled mosaic there. Each one, however, has a full bar where bartenders mix margaritas and flat-screen TVs broadcasting sports overhead.
Jalapeños Grill's open kitchen and terra-cotta-colored walls please patrons' scanners, and authentic south-of-the-border dishes treat tongues to sweet and spicy flavors. Diners polish taste buds with appetizers such as shrimp vallarta, sautéed jumbo shrimp hot tubbing in chipotle-honey-mustard sauce and melted cheese ($10.99).
Banners of colorful papel picado decorations flutter above Cafe Sol Azteca's seasonal patio, where a tile mosaic wall echoes the folk art hanging in the main dining room. Inside, chefs whip up guacamole—ranked among the best in the city by Boston Magazine—and simmer chicken in rich chocolate-infused mole sauce, or tuck tender cactus into salads. These specialties match with more than 15 varieties of margaritas, such as the blue frozen margarita and the Three Generation Margarita with a glass rim that the kitchen staff rolls in salt uphill both ways.
Classic Oaxacan cuisine receives a contemporary update at Zocalo Mexican Bistro. Crispy flautas and grilled chicken topped with house-made mole sauce showcase the restaurant's traditional roots. However, chefs exercise a bit more creativity when making dishes such as beer-battered, fried avocado sticks or a Cuban-inspired torta—a slow-cooked pulled pork sandwich with smoked applewood bacon, a black bean purée, pickled jalapeño, and chipotle mustard.
These bold flavors complement the dining room's vibrant decor, which features sunset-hued walls, colorful tiles, and hand-painted ceramics. During the warmer months, the outdoor patio opens, providing guests with a cozy place to enjoy a bottle of Mexican beer, a glass of sangria, or a balloon animal filled with sparkling water.
Perhaps the only thing as impressive as Dorado’s cemita sandwich (a stack of black beans, chipotles, avocado, Oaxaca cheese, and meat or veggies on a toasted sesame-seed egg roll) is its unflappable dedication to the environment. Napkins, plates, and utensils are biodegradable, wooden floors are recycled, and tables are reclaimed.
Every month, a new celebrity mans the counter at Anna’s Taqueria; the burritos they roll raise money for a chosen charity. On an average day, Anna’s burritos are local celebrities in their own right. They’re made to-order with fillings ranging from grilled chicken to lengua (beef tongue).