By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published May 03, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Bienvenidos a Mexican Dining Week on This week, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, we're spicing things up with daily articles about Mexican restaurants, foods, drinks, sweets and more. Enjoy a week of sizzling stories that will leave you craving Milwaukee's Latin offerings. Olé!

A little over two years ago, Marco Estrada was called up to the Milwaukee Brewers from Class AAA Nashville, appearing in just seven games. A "cup of coffee," if you will. A taste of Milwaukee, and a bit of flavoring on the four games he pitched for the Washington Nationals the year before.

Last year, Estrada spent the entire season with the Brewers, becoming more familiar not only with Major League Baseball, but with the Milwaukee dining scene.

Coffee may be a nice pick-me-up, but sometimes you want to experience a full menu.

Fortunately for Estrada, he joined Yovani Gallardo as the only two players of Mexican descent on the Brewers, and the pair has made an effort to get out and about to experience what kind of native fare Milwaukee has to offer.

The breadth of options has been a refreshing discovery for the pair.

If Gallardo had to pick one place he frequents more than others, it's Botanas, while Estrada is fond of the enchiladas at Conejito's Place and enjoyed Mi Cocina in Brookfield.

Both players also cited the atmosphere at the Mexican restaurants they visit, noting how if they are recognized, patrons and employees are respectful of their space and personal time.

"I was very surprised," said Estrada, who was born in Sonora, Mexico. "Honestly, I never expected to find a Mexican restaurant up here. And if I were to find one, I was expecting ground beef and hard shell tacos, like Taco Bell. So when we went to those places I was like man, this is pretty good. There is some good food out here."

To that end, they keep an ear out for new places and make an effort to try them all. Neither could pinpoint a favorite, instead deferring to their appetites on a given day.

"I'm still finding new places," said Gallardo, a native of Michoacan, Mexico. "It seems like they're all pretty good and it's just a matter of choosing where you want to go. All of those places have pretty good food. It's just a matter of where you're at and how hungry you are."

Added Estrada: "I'm in the same boat. I like to try everything and I'll make a decision after that. Every place is different. If I like a certain food and some place has it, I'm going to go there. I like to try it all. Some places will have good tortilla, some places have a good carne asada. It's different. It's whatever I'm in the mood for, I guess."

Despite having a wide array of options to choose from, however, Gallardo couldn't quite put a finger on what he would recommend.

"I'd say ... tacos," he said with a smile. "To be honest, you can never go wrong with that. That, or enchiladas. It's one of those things that those places are pretty good (at)."

Estrada on the other hand, knows what he hasn't found – yet.

"I like everything, but I think if I wanted one thing that I had to eat for the rest of my life, I'd probably go with tortas," he said. "Big fan of tortas, especially the one my grandma makes. I miss those. It's hard to find. Grandma's cooking – there's only one."

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.