Friday, April 9, 2010

MEXICAN

Metro Milwaukee Dining Guide

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3 Magueyes

2423 S. Sixth St.

Mexican seafood is the specialty of this extensive menu. Red snapper Veracruz differs from tradition but is a lovely deep-fried whole fish topped with avocado salad. Most dishes are conservatively seasoned, but there are items that will challenge even the most dedicated chile head. The camarones ala diabla are very fiery, while the beef lomo, with an arbol chile sauce, is positively incendiary. (J.B.) $$. CC: VS, MC, AmEx, DS. FB. 383-5161

Botanas Restaurant

816 S. Fifth St.

Those who like milder Mexican cooking, but still want variety, will enjoy Botanas. Chicken enchiladas and pork tamales are always good, and the tortilla soup is comforting. Camarones a la diabla have an abundance of shrimp, while the chiles espanoles are a delightful vegetarian dish in short supply at most Mexican restaurants. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: All major. RS, FB, OD. 672-3755

Café Corazon

3129 N. Bremen St.

Café Corazon is a cozy little spot on a quiet Riverwest street. The menu is mainly Mexican and the items are simple. Meat fillings for tacos, burrito and enchiladas include chicken, chorizo, carne asada and mechada, a Venezuelan-style pulled beef. Vegetarians can choose soy chorizo, grilled vegetables or true vegan version. The star of the menu has to be the blue mussels in an interesting version incorporating chorizo and jalapenos. Café Corazon also serves a weekend brunch. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC,VS,DS. SB. 810-3941

Cafe El Sol

1028 S. Ninth St.

Located deep inside the United Community Center, El Sol’s visibility is relatively low, even though it has its own plainly marked entrance. But anyone who loves Mexican and Puerto Rican food shouldn’t overlook it. El Sol is notable for its daily Puerto Rican specials, but also serves up a fine selection of enchiladas, tacos, guacamole and tostadas. Try a breakfast of huevos rancheros or good old Yankee eggs, toast and bacon. The Friday fish fry buffet features live Latin music. Open Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and Friday 5-8:30 p.m. (D.L.) $. CC: MC, VS. FF. 384-3100 ext. 275

Cempazuchi Comida Brava

1205 E. Brady St.

This splendid regional Mexican menu features Oaxacan turkey mole, Nayarit shrimp stew and sea scallops with pozole. The traditional soups please, as do the less-authentic lake perch tacos with tangy chipotle mayonnaise. The bar, with its fine tequila inventory, is a fun spot to sample finger food with fresh fruit margaritas. Graze on tostadas del mar or gorditas de tinga. (J.B.) $$-$$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx, DS. OD, FB. Handicap access. 291-5233

Chipotle Mexican Grill

600 E. Ogden Ave. 223-4710

3232 S. 27th St. 389-1380

15375 Bluemound Road, Brookfield, 262-796-0463

A good place for a quick fix of fresh burritos, tacos and salads. Chipotle assembles Mexican favorites right before your eyes, so there’s no secret to their freshness. The salsas may surprise you with their fiery flavor. When in doubt, go mild. (J.D.) $. CC: MC, VS. OD, B. Handicap access.

Cielito Lindo

733 S. Second St.

The dining room is a colorful Mexican fantasy with tropical Mexican murals on orange walls and a ceiling with a vivid blue sky and a giant eagle. Nobody will ever fall asleep in this room! The menu includes reasonably priced Mexican standards with decent chile rellenos. Items with salsa verde and salsa rojo are also worth a try. There are two dining areas, both with bars, and an outdoor patio. Though there are few items that are unique here, the cooking is sound and the prices reasonable. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC, VS, DS. FB. OD. Handicap access. 383-9440

Coa

5750 N. Port Washington Road (Bayshore Town Center)

Coa serves “Mexican street food”—items like grilled sweet corn, tamales wrapped in banana leaf and an assortment of tacos. But Coa also has a sleek contemporary setting with a very cool bar that makes some excellent margaritas. The lime juice is fresh and tart, just like at the beach in Acapulco. The tacos van be traditional or playful. Combinations plates of three different tacos are offered. (J.B.) $$. CC: All major. FB. Handicap access. 967-1451

El Fuego Mexican Restaurant

909 W. Layton Ave.

El Fuego is a jumbo-sized Mexican establishment, but the amenities are nice with an inviting bar plus an outdoor patio complete with palm trees and a cascading waterfall. And the food ranges from above average to actually quite good. Guacamole is made on the spot and the shrimp cocktails large and a bit spicy. The pork tamales are aromatic with cumin, excellent. Do try the chicken with mole poblano. This kitchen has an excellent recipe for this chocolate-based sauce. Prices are affordable, except for the premium tequilas, of course. (J.B.) $$. CC: All major. FB. Handicap access. 455-3534

El Senorial

1901 S. 31st St.

The menu is standard Mexican fare, but the selection is broad and the quality consistent. Try chorizo tacos with a spicy punch or a big platter of shrimp fajitas. The house specialty is parrillada, a tabletop grill with an assortment of meats. Start the meal with a good ceviche and finish with vanilla flan. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC, VS. FB. Handicap access. 385-9506

Fiesta Garibaldi

5108 W. Bluemound Road

The location near Miller Park has little competition for Mexican food, but the menu here is extensive as well as good. Seafood is emphasized, serving fresh oysters, seafood cocktails and grilled red snapper. The carne asada is notable and the lomo de res will challenge the most dedicated hot pepper fan. A children’s menu is available. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. FB. Handicap access. 443-0287

Habanero’s Mexican Kitchen

869 N. Mayfair Road

Habanero’s has far more charm than the typical Mexican restaurant. The menu has the usual standards in every combination possible. A few beef and seafood dishes add some depth to the offerings. Don’t dismiss the guacamole cart as just a gimmick. The servers know what they are doing. (J.B.) $$. CC: MC,VS,AX. FB. OD. Handicap access. 607-9025

Haute Taco

18905 W. Capitol Drive

(Sendik’s Towne Center)

The humble taco has never had it so good. Though the tortillas are smaller than many in Milwaukee, the ingredients make Haute Taco stand out. Pork carnitas is familiar but try the slow-cooked duck or the beef short ribs. Consider starting with a small Caesar salad or elote, flavorful pieces of corn on the cob. The bar is a casual spot for a margarita or two. The quality is high and the prices low—an unbeatable combination. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: All major. FB. Handicap access. (262) 781-1110

Hector’s on Delaware

3040 S. Delaware St.

The fare focuses on fajitas, tacos, burritos as well as a few surprises. This is the home of a dozen different enchiladas, many of them vegetarian. Fillings may include artichoke with anejo cheese or portabella mushroom with asparagus. Entrees include calabacita, a pork and squash stew, and a decent chile relleno. The bar is a destination, serving margaritas and a long Mexican beer list. Prices are moderate and servings large. (J.B.) $$. CC: All major. FB. Handicap access. 755-7870

Jalapeno Loco

5067 S. Howell Ave.

Loco’s menu is filled with regional Mexican specialties. Chilies en Nogadas are from Puebla, while Oaxaca is represented with seven moles. The less adventurous will find tacos, burritos, enchiladas and fajitas. Choose one of the excellent margaritas. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC, VS. OD, FB. 483-8300

La Canoa

1520 W. Lincoln Ave.

Mexican seafood is the specialty; the dining room is a riot of color with chairs carved with images of every sea creature imaginable. The bar resembles the hull of a boat. La Canoa’s menu has everything from oysters to jumbo shrimp, whole red snappers, and even frog legs. The seafood cocktails are huge and there are many soup options. Portions tend to be generous and freebies include fish ceviche plus an empanada. This is a delightful and friendly restaurant, but if you are in the mood for steak tacos, forget it! (J.B.) $-$$. CC: All major. FB. Handicap access. 645-1140

La Fuente

625 S. Fifth St.

Tacos, burritos and enchiladas rule the menu here. Modest prices always draw a crowd. The menu offers a decent shrimp soup and camaron a la diabla for those who like their food very fiery. This is a fun spot for cerveza-swigging groups. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: All major. FB, OD. Handicap access. 271-8595

La Perla

734 S. Fifth St.

With the restaurant’s expansive tequila selection, weekend shuttle bus to and from college campuses, and mechanical bull shaped like a hot pepper, La Perla’s food is sometimes overshadowed by the party. These silly surroundings, however, house some surprisingly authentic Mexican cuisine. Entrees are marked by robust sauces and served on overflowing plates. Of course, if you just want a margarita to wash down your nachos, you can get that, too. (E.R.) $. CC: MC, VS, AmEx, DS. OD, FB. 645-9888

Los Burritos Tapatios

4350 S. 27th St.

South Milwaukee’s own authentic taste of Mexico. Featured items include fajitas for two, seafood cocktails, shrimp soup and whole snapper. Throughout the spring and summer, this casual, sit-down restaurant keeps the grills going until 4 a.m. on weekend nights. (J.D.) $$. CC: All major. FB, RS. Handicap access. 282-7707

Mi Perla Tapatia

2222 S. 13th St.

This casual eatery may be short on atmosphere, but the kitchen knows how to make a good salsa. Meats are grilled with a choice of salsas. Seafood is a specialty, with the red snapper especially good in a chipotle sauce. Tacos al pastor, marinated pork with a hint of chile flavor, is about as good as anywhere locally (just add chopped onion and cilantro). The setting may not be much, but Mi Perla Tapatia is very kind to the wallet. (J.B.) $. CC: MC, VS. Handicap access. 383-3102

Rio West Cantina

2730 N. Humboldt Blvd.

Although the menu is small with the most basic Mexican fare, the quality is good, buttressed by an impressive tequila and Mexican beer list. If you are in the mood for guacamole with chips, steak tacos and perhaps an order of chicken tamales, this place will work. The dining room is light, airy and attractive. Amenities include a children’s playroom and off-street parking. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: All major. FB. OD. Handicap access. 562-5540

Riviera Maya

2258 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Riviera Maya is spacious with a contemporary Mayan-inspired décor. The menu is centered on six different moles served with a choice of four meat and two vegetarian options. Entrees and sandwiches include a cup of the excellent sopa de tortilla, an inspired version of a traditional Mexican soup. (J.B.) $$. CC: All major. FB. Handicap access. 294-4848

Rudy’s Mexican Restaurant

1122 N. Edison St.

Rudy’s remains popular, with a menu focused on tacos, burritos, tostadas and an especially good chile relleno. Some items are grilled, including chuletas rancheras, a pair of pork chops. Quick service and ample seating make this a good pick for families and larger groups. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC, VS, AmEx. FB, OD. 223-1122

Senor Sol

8129 W. Greenfield Ave.,

456-9955

10401 N. Port Washington Road, (262) 478-0141

Though the menu differs little from dozens of other Mexican restaurants, the quality is above the pack. The salsas are more flavorful and everything from tacos to fajitas is reliable. Guacamole is freshly made, and the chile rellenos are the best in Milwaukee. The pleasant interior decor with an outdoor dining patio provides a rarity in West Allis. (J.B.) $-$$. CC: MC, VS. OD. Handicap access.

Taco City

W186 N9539 Bancroft Road, Menomonee Falls

What separates Taco City from similarly named fast-food outlets is freshness. They don’t own a freezer or a heat lamp—even the corn chips are fried on-site each morning. An understandable tendency toward mild flavors can be erased with a dollop of the chain’s homemade hot salsa. It’s not four-star dining, but you can feed an average family for less than $20. (D.L.) $. CC: VS, MC, Discover. OD. Handicap access. (262) 255-9153

Villa’s Restaurant

2522 W. Greenfield Ave.

This small eatery has a big menu and even larger servings, plus some interesting Oaxacan specialties. The only mole is a mole negro, delicious with chicken or pork. The gorditas are delicious with handmade corn cakes and several choices of filling. More unusual is the tlayuda, a folded tortilla the size of a small pizza with abundant filling. While the décor is basic the quantity and quality of the food more than compensate. Simple margaritas are available as are a few Mexican beers. (J.B.) $. CC: MC,VS. Handicap access. 672-1943