Miamians in the mood for Mexican in other corners of the county might consider these solid south-of-the-border joints:
Burritos Grill Café
899 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-891-1041; $15 or less per person, excluding tip and alcohol
This quaint and immaculate 30-seat café has obligatory sombreros and ponchos hanging on the walls; Mexican music serenading in the background; five tall, tiled tables; and a counter behind which you can watch Karina Manzanero craft various tortilla-based dishes. She and husband Mario own and operate this restaurant, and do so as if it were their home in the Yucatán — and you the guest. The food is a simple blend of fresh ingredients, savory seasonings, and unfussy flavors. Highlights on the short list of taquerialike selections are the burrito Maya and tacos de cochinita pibil, both containing pork cooked in the Yucatecán "pibil" style. Other offerings are more generically Mexican, such as quesadillas, tostadas, and tamales, all under $7. The single special served each day, whether it be enchiladas salsa verde, or whole fried fish, or the Mayan tikinchi specialty of red snapper prepared pibil style, is often the most noteworthy meal. Take the chips without the guac (too limey), and sip a cold Negra Modelo. Burritos Grill ain't the Yucatán, but close enough.
Orale Taqueria Mexicana
SW 28th Street and 37th Avenue, Miami; $15 or less per person, excluding tip and alcohol
Orale is a red, white, and green-striped taqueria on wheels, parked on the SW 28th Street side of Douglas Park every Saturday and Sunday. The menu is tacos, tacos, and more tacos in their simplest, most authentic form: corn tortillas folded over meat. Some of the best include juicy barbecue lamb (barbacoa); slowly roasted pork (carnitas de cerdo); pork grilled with pineapple (al pastor); spicy chorizo sausage; and morsels of dark chicken that are smoky from the grill and imbued with well-marinated flavors. Orale also proffers popular Mexican parts of beef that are less familiar in the States, such as lengua (tongue), suadereo (the fatty riblike beef belly), and cachete (cheek meat, currently a cut with cachet in fine-dining places). Tacos are slender, so you can eat a whole bunch of them (they are just $2.50 apiece). The only other option is a chicken-and-cheese quesadilla with sour cream, pico de gallo, and guacamole ($4). Traditional toppings include essential chopped onion and cilantro; pico de gallo; thin radish slices; and small lime wedges. If you're not convinced this is the real deal, try one of the three salsas in squeeze bottles — hot, hotter, and ay Chihuahua! Homemade horchata (a refreshing rice, almond, and cinnamon beverage) and bottles of jarritos (Mexican sodas) help quell the fire. Cash only, and very well spent.
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