Bienvenidos a Mexican Dining Week on OnMilwaukee.com. 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!
Milwaukee has great Mexican restaurants, and some – like La Perla, La Fuente, Botanas and Conejito's – might be more famous than others that are lesser known, but not necessarily lesser in quality.
Here is a collection of Mexican restaurants that don't always get the recognition they deserve. Of course, there are many more out there, so add your favorite, less-celebrated Mexican eatery via the Talkback feature.
739 S. 2nd St., (414) 649-0401
Cielto Lindo is lively and friendly and features really good food – and large portions – for a very fair price. The bar, which looks like a gazebo, fits in with the rest of the beachy murals and cloud-covered ceiling. Co-owner Rodrigo Lopez opened the business with his brother 15 years ago. They also have a second location at 1300 W. Burham Ave. and two taco trucks, one on 17th and Greenfield and one on 16th and Washington. All of the recipes are created by Rodrigo's family, and he recommends the Molcajete, a dish served for one or two diners. It features shrimp, steak, chicken, tomatoes, onions, peppers, avocado and melted cheese. "We make good food and we give good service," says Rodrigo. There's also a parking lot and a nice patio.
1901 S. 31st St., (414) 385-9538
Miguel and Jose Huerta opened El Señorial in 2001 and since then, have never stopped moving. The family-filled restaurant is usually full, if not packed, with customers. The dining room has a comfortable "rec room" feel to it and the large bar in the back is a great spot to drink and eat if you don't have kids in tow. Miguel recommends his carne asada (a butterfly-cut steak that comes with rice and beans and corn tortillas) or the famly-style parrillada – ribs, Mexican sausage and steak – which can be served in portions for one-to-four people. The tortas and shrimp tacos are excellent, too. El Señorial has a great selection of Mexican beers and margaritas.
901 S. 10th St., (414) 647-2266
Genoveva and Felipe Losada opened the restaurant 25 years ago after they moved from Guadalajara, Mexico, and introduced Milwaukee to their family recipes. Today, their granddaughter, Yesenia Villarreal, works there, too. She says customers return again and again to the cozy, friendly eatery with the massive dark-wood bar to try her abuela's sopes, quesadillas and desserts. "Her flan is the best pastry ever made," she says. Also, the green salsa is some of the most flavorful in the city and the steak tacos have garnered rave reviews. Guadalajara offers angled street parking, which is usually available, and has a liquor license.
2301 S. Howell Ave., (414) 482-2269
Bay View's Guanajuato – referred to as GTO by those in the know – offers chips and salsa with a nice kick, along with really flavorful rice and beans that come with most orders. The steak tacos are a house favorite, and none of the shrimp dishes will disappoint. The veggie burrito is very good, too. Although made from a mix, the margaritas are a mere $2.50 each on weeknights. Sometimes they're served in Ball jars. The atmosphere is very casual, with lots of light and long vines decorating the dropped ceiling.
3470 E. Layton Ave., (414) 744-4417
Longtime Conejito's employee Lala Guerra recently opened her own Mexican eatery, Lala's Place. The staff, including Lala herself, is extremely friendly and the food is made from completely new recipes (not Conejito's recipes) and features high points like the "Lala's Special," a large beef or steak burrito, along with other goodies like the shrimp fajitas and stuffed peppers. The three complimentary salsas that comes with the bottomless basket of chips are a nice touch. Breakfast is also available every morning. During dinner time, however, Lala is quick to pour a pitcher of margaritas, which are good, but be careful. They're potent. Lala's has a parking lot and a children's menu, too.
Taco Loco (Inside El Rey)
916 S. Cesar Chavez Dr. (414) 643-1640
Don't confuse this Taco Loco with the restaurant of the same name inside the Pick 'n' Save on 16th and National. The Taco Loco inside El Rey blows that one away, and it's a great place to stop in for a quick bite of made-from-scratch Mexican food. The restaurant is open until 8 p.m. and serves excellent tamales and enchiladas – as well as quesadillas for under $3. Caldo de cameron – shrimp soup – is offered every Friday. Taco Loco does not have a liquor license, but offers an extremely authentic Mexican restaurant experience. The atmosphere is very casual and a nice mix of Spanish and English speakers. Plus, after the meal, it's fun to shop in the massive, Mexican grocery and liquor store. Take-out is also available at Taco Loco.
Taqueria El Cabrito
1100 S. 1th St., (414) 385-9000
El Cabrito was a favorite of our friend and coworker, Tim Cuprisin, who passed away in 2011. He liked to go there for the goat, which tastes a lot like beef, and is the strong point of the menu. The birria en chivo is a goat stew with onions and cilantro. Tacos and burritos are filled with goat, lengua (tongue), tripa (tripe) or chicarron (pork skin), as well as with all of the more Americanized ingredients. It's also a great place to try cactus, which is soft and sweet. The portions are huge, so consider sharing if you're not super hungry. El Cabrito does not have a liquor license, but it offers a good selection of Mexican sodas, including sangria senorial which is a wine-flavored soda.
1332 W. Lincoln Ave., (414) 384-9050
Tres Hermanos has one of the best lunch deals in the city. For $5 they offer many plate lunch specials. The dinner menu is affordable, too, with stand-out items like the chilaquiles, a corn-chip mix with red salsa and eggs on top. Plus, the seafood is very fresh – try the shrimp and octopus cocktail. Tres Hermanos has an appealing dining room filled with natural light as well as a medium-sized patio and good margaritas. It's cash-only, so hit the ATM on the way.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.