Judging from the outside, you might expect this Pilsen eatery to be a sleepy little neighborhood joint. Step inside, however, and you'll find a festive party waiting to happen, which is perhaps not such a surprise, considering that the restaurant is named after one of Mexico's favorite resort cities.
With its terra cotta tiles, high ceilings, wrought iron grille work, and small jungle of potted plants, the restaurant has an almost patio-like feel. Plaster animal casts and Aztec suns decorate the full bar, and the main dining room sports a cheerful mural of two pinto beans, clad as caballeros, playing guitar and trumpet. But despite these flashy touches, this is not Mexico a la Disney. The multi-colored flair has an authentic feel, even down to the understated shrine to the Virgin Mary, flanked by candles, that stands near the front door.
The menu is just as authentic. Here you'll find familiar Mexican and Tex-Mex favorites, such as tacos, burritos, enchiladas and sopas, as well as some more exotic offerings, all in very hearty portions. Specialties of the house include pollo en mole (chicken in mole sauce), pescado y camarones (fish and shrimp) and, for the adventurous, cabrito en birria (goat stew). Dinners come in combination with rice and beans, and beverages include tropical drinks as well as beer and liquor. The menu sports full-color photos of all offerings, so there are no surprises for the uninitiated.
For those in a festive mood, Cuernavaca offers party perks as well as great food. The full jukebox features Latin music favorites, and the bar screens sports and Latin music videos on two immense projection screens.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Kay Daly