Pepper’s Mexican Grill & Cantina in Shalimar, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Pepper’s Mexican Grill & Cantina in Shalimar, Florida! Sipping on a salt or sugar-rimmed margarita, with a grand marnier floater, is the only way to peruse the menu of a Mexican restaurant. The orange-flavored cognac not only adds a zing of citrus, its deep amber color elevates an ordinary cocktail to a vacation status offering perfect relaxation. A basket of homemade chips act as a modifier while you make up your mind for the main course. Tacos de Carnitas or the Taco Salad Fajitas will tickle your taste buds with marinated grilled meats that become the star attraction, enhanced by sautéed onions, chopped cilantro, and restaurant-style salsas. Seriously, this is the best way to pass the time before checking into the cottage rental on the beach.

Tacos & Tequila Cantina in Fort Myers, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Tacos & Tequila Cantina in Fort Myers, Florida! If going South of the border gives you illusions of adventurous Tex Mex meals filled with bold ingredients and health benefits, this is the place to try. Keep in mind the focus is on tacos. After all, it’s their specialty. With over two dozen ways to fill a taco with meat and seafood, vine-ripened tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sautéed onions, Mexican cheeses, grilled tortillas, pico de gallos, and more, there’s something for every funky craving you can think of. The decor is fun and quirky. Look up to see hanging chandeliers made of empty tequila bottles. The walls are covered with vibrant sugar skulls as well as fiesta “Day of the Dead” custom pieces, making every visit a celebration. Be daring. Try something new. And for goodness sake, be brave enough to try the spicy margarita. That’s kinda the point.

Dos Caminos in Times Square, New York, New York

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Caminos in Times Square, New York! Perhaps Cinco de Mayo isn’t the best time to try out an authentic Mexican restaurant. But then again, maybe it is. The vibrant cantina was hopping like a fiesta celebration. Shot glasses were slung back and refilled on demand. Traditional guacamole was served in natural molcajete stones with warm tortilla chips. The salsa trio was a bonus. Queso Fundido, piping hot in a black iron skillet, was spot on. Thick with melted cheese, poblano peppers, dark beer, and roasted tomatoes made it a meal. Keep the Cadillac Margaritas coming for an amazing culmination.

The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dining Outside the Home: The Three Amigos in Downtown Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! Authentic Mexican food is as festive as Mexican blankets, wide-rimmed sombreros, and multicolored piñatas. The “Daily Special” boasted Fajitas Al Pastor—crispy chunks of marinated pork cooked with onions and green pepper strips served on a sizzling skillet. Homemade corn tortillas accompanied sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. We ordered a side of refried beans to use as a binding agent once the shells were filled. The finishing touch of habanero sauce sealed the deal with a nice kick of spice. An agave nectar margarita cocktail culminated the entire meal. Bueno!

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaigne, Illinois 

Dining Outside the Home: Dos Reales Mexican Restaurant in Champaigne, Illinois! Everyone loves a rustic cantina where the salsa is spicy and the margaritas are chilled. Add a platter of sizzling marinated meats and sautéed veggies to stuff into a steamed corn tortilla for combination fajitas. Don’t forget the crispy tortilla bowl of lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, and Pico de Gallo. Now this is authentic Mexican cuisine. Indulge your taste buds with scrumptious offerings from south of the border without the cost of airfare. An outdoor patio is favorable among locals. Try it. As you sit under the shade of an umbrella, enjoy the company you’re in. Well done, Pedro! 

Dining Outside the Home: Mariachi’s Restaurant-Authentic Mexican Cuisine in Lihue, Kauai 

Dining Outside the Home: Mariachi’s Restaurant-Authentic Mexican Cuisine in Lihue, Kauai!  Step inside this shaded cantina setting to discover a place that has been serving south-of-the-border favorites in the Hawaiian Islands for just barely over ten years. But don’t let that stop you. The tried and true family recipes make up signature dishes that survived the test of time in Guerrero Mexico. Experience the bold flavors, the icy cold lime margaritas, the tender meats, spicy rice, and an entire menu of outstanding choices. Go crazy. Don a sombrero, celebrate the day, and check out the Happy Hour specials. Olé!

Dining Outside the Home: Native Tongues Taqueria in Calgary, Canada

Dining Outside the Home: Native Tongues Taqueria in Calgary, Canada! If you’re looking for traditional street foods of Mexico mixed with a desire to socialize, you may wish to experience the cantina atmosphere of Native Tongues Taqueria. A quick glance will have you wondering if the soft patina of adobe walls peppered with festive Mexican tiles are for real. They are. Communal wooden tables and solid benches promote casual conversations. Fresh ingredients make up for the pricey miniature tacos, which disappeared in three bites. Other patrons seemed to gravitate to the authentic guacamole and house made chips washed down with a signature Mezcal margarita. Sharing platters is the way to go. The chef-driven labor-intensive attention to detail keeps this restaurant from falling into the category of “Mexican fast food”.