El Mariachi serves up generous portions of tasty, authentic Mexican food at the simple, clean-looking restaurant. Also, colorful sombreros dot the walls, and Corona beer bottles filled with flowers sit on tables throughout the restaurant, which has a relaxed atmosphere.
The menu offers a full lineup with many appetizers, soups, salads, burritos, enchiladas, flautas and combination specials served with rice and beans. A veggie burrito ($8) made from a large flour tortilla came packed with lettuce, rice, green peppers, tomatoes and cheese, and it satisfied a growling tummy.
Appetizers include freshly prepared guacamole, queso and jalapeno peppers breaded and stuffed with cheddar cheese. Salads range from $4 for a house salad to $10 for a grilled chicken salad served over lettuce, tomatoes, onions and green peppers. Meanwhile Mexican favorites run the gamut from tacos ($8) to chimichangas ($9) to fajitas ($11-$17).
Veggie-friendly fare rounds out the menu. Fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, burritos, chimichangas and tamales all can be made to order for vegetarians. Combo plates such as the Azteca Combo (a guacamole taco, chile relleno and cheese enchilada for $10) are also available. And if the large serving portions don't fill you up, there's also fried ice cream, flan and sopapillas for dessert.
In the warmer months, sit on the enormous and inviting back patio. With mariachi music in the background and intimate lantern lighting all around, it's like a little taste of Mexico in the middle of Lakeview.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Mary Susan Littlepage