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).
For Anthony and Denise Sierra, California-style burritos aren't just a fast and healthy meal. They're a tribute to Mark Tryhubczak, the chef and friend who brought them together. After teaching Anthony to cook and Denise to tend bar, Mark introduced the couple at his own burrito shop, Block Island Burrito Company. Together, the trio turned the fledgling business into a local gem in the early 1990s. Though Mark has sadly passed away, his legacy lives on through Anthony and Denise's joyful eatery, which helps patrons to build their own memories around plates of nachos and steaming bowls of chili. Anthony handcrafts the entire lineup of edibles each day, making every bite more refreshing than a mentholated dunk tank. Flour tortillas encase seven types of burritos, which teem with seasoned meats and colorful veggies such as bell peppers, sweet corn, and ripe red tomatoes. Instead of gift-wrapping microwaves and trimming sun rays with frosting, guests can celebrate heat waves on the patio while sipping festive margaritas and three types of sangria.
Tortilla Flats tempts tasters with an alluring melting pot of classic Mexican eats, peppered with hints of Cajun and southwestern cuisine. Lunch and dinner patrons can sup on an eclectic array of quesadillas, sandwiches, salads, classic Mexican combination plates, and entrees. Debate the anatomical impossibilities of an order of wild boar wings (plain, buffalo, or barbecue style, $8.99) before moving on to heartier fare such as the cowboy steak tips ($14.99) or the habanero mac 'n' cheese ($13.99). Combinations of tacos, burritos, tamales, and enchiladas tantalize statisticians with a bevy of possibilities ($7.95–$9.95), and blackened catfish Naw Leens ($13.95) and Bayou Crawdad cakes ($9.50) transport taste buds to the murky environs of Cajun country, replete with Zydeco-blasting tooth accordions.
In true Mexican culinary tradition, the tortilla plays a major role at Cancun Family Mexican Restaurant, encasing an extensive selection of enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and chimichangas. But the menu also includes plenty of specialty entrees without corn or flour shells, such as pescado veracruz, a halibut fillet grilled with garlic and lemon and paired with rice and beans. There's also steak picado, strips of sirloin sautéed with onions and peppers, and chile verde, morsels of marinated pork loin colored with green tomatillo sauce and the rosiness of forks inflamed by the dish's spiciness.
As their name implies, the staff at Blue Agave mix up margaritas using blue agave tequila and a dash of French orange liquor. Their bar also brims with Mexican sodas, sangria, and imported beer. While cooks craft dishes such sizzling fajitas and enchiladas topped with mole, servers make guacamole table-side after opening avocados with a search warrant. The restaurant also features a private salon where guests can host parties and enjoy a buffet of savory and sweet items.
Owner and head chef of Viva Mexican Grill and Tequileria, Carlos Mendez grew up in Mexico watching his mother and aunts as they concocted labor-intensive food without batting an eye. He would even venture off to the countryside to collect any wild mushrooms they might need. Now at his restaurant, he keeps his culinary traditions alive with his menu of Central Mexican cuisine. Fresh guacamole made table-side prepare palates for forthcoming entrees. Handmade masa pancakes topped with queso fresco join slow-cooked pork carnitas and tricolor plates of chilis en nogada with creamy walnut sauce. Thirteen types of margaritas and chilled coladas and daiquiris cool tongues coated in hot spices.
The festive decor of earthy deep blues, red clay tiles and adobe-colored walls also pays tribute to his homeland, as does a mariachi band. These musicians rove between tables, serenading diners with romantic string and vocal harmonies and the occasional rap battle.
If your diet of boiled cauliflower and dry-curd cottage cheese has left you hungry for habanero-inspired anything, plunge a warm tortilla chip into the depths of the seven-layer dip ($8.99), or try the spicy shrimp "snake bite" poppers ($8.99), crisp fried jalapeño poppers stuffed with shrimp and cheese. Cactus Grille's extensive entree selection includes bejazzled burgers and other hand-held delights, such as the chipotle bacon cheeseburger ($8.49), smothered with chipotle mayo sauce, or the salmon chimichanga ($14.99) with poblano molé sauce. Other enticing options include Cactus's house-specialty barbecue ribs ($13.99 for a half rack), slow-cooked and doused with the house Mayan barbecue sauce, or the DIY filet dinner ($18.99), wherein sliced portions of filet pre-cooked rare arrives at your table along with a sizzling cast-iron platter that allows you to sear the meat to your desired degree of doneness. Mexican-dining traditionalists will enjoy the selection of burritos, enchiladas, tacos, and fajitas, while dessert-inclined diners will find solace from the fiery fare in the southern plantation key lime pie ($4.95) or cheesecake chimichanga ($4.95).