Cantina Laredo

A concept that hails from Dallas, Texas, Cantina Laredo has since expanded to a few key cities all over the country, typically finding its way into upscale shopping centers, airports and commercial centers. An open concept busy with decorative earthen pots, hanging lights and a massive bar that serves up refreshing drinks of all kinds. The menu is ‘Modern Mexican,’ a version of Tex-Mex that is cleaned up a bit and served with higher-notch ingredients. The locations often end up being large-size very busy establishments, but they don’t make for a bad place for a happy hour.

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La Michoacana

748 Troy Street Dayton Ohio 45404 937.220.9600 websiteLa Michoacana is a small chain of Latin American grocery stores focused mostly in Columbus, with a Dayton location as well. While the overwhelming majority of each location is mostly devoted to ingredients and cultural trinkets for the Latin populations, there is a small little restaurant inside the … Continue reading

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Don Pablo’s

Founded out of Texas in the mid-1980s, Don Pablos had expanded rapidly into the Midwest before a 2007 bankruptcy slashed the chain’s locations. Now, Don Pablo’s is back with a new menu and a new concept to make each location something of a party. The interior of each restaurant has a wide open, colorful and friendly concept and the menu an expansive bunch of Tex-Mex dishes focusing on great meat dishes and simple flavors. The chain has spots in many cities still, and it’s a overall a good experience.

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El Cazador Mexican Restaurant

A bit off the beaten path in Dayton’s north thoroughfare, El Cazador in Englewood Is a Tex-Mex house set up for large groups of people to enjoy some good Spanish inspired cuisine. The servings are hearty, the food is inexpensive, and the spot really brings a lot simple food to the table with an overall pleasant service. That said I found the food to be pretty uninspiring.

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Abuelos Mexican Food Embassy

It’s a chain of several dozen restaurants throughout the Midwest and central U.S., and Abeulos Mexican Food Embassy aims to be a higher-class restaurant with about one location in most major cities around the country. It focuses not only on the traditional Tex-Mex fare but also Spanish Tapas and plenty of other dishes. While the spot does offer an opportunity for nice surroundings and a pretty creative menu, the food here doesn’t always rise to the price points being asked for it. But still, I found the experience to be decent.

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Chuy’s Tex-Mex

A fun-loving, quirky concept out of Austin, Texas, the fast growing Chuy’s Tex Mex chain sort of explodes at you all at once as soon as you walk in. The mass of colors, hundreds of hand-painted fish on the ceilings, a shrine to Elvis, all of it greets you as you find your way to the bar or to a table. The flavors that greet you there are equally bold and loud. All told, I’m a huge fan of this concept and what it has to offer.

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Los Reyes

There are a lot of small, independent Tex-mex chains around the Dayton area, and Los Reyes is nestles in a strip mall just off Dorothy Lane in Kettering. It’s got a basic layout familiar to so many like it – a little bar in the back serves margaritas as a big dining room has space for groups big and small, and a sizable menu for various favorites in the Tex-mex repertoire. The food is a good basic iteration of tis genre but other than that I struggle to find anything about it worth a return trip.

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Puerto Vallarta

A little tex-mex setup serving the city of New Albany near Louisville, Puerto Vallarta is a little corner shop serving Mexican food to River City’s northern suburbs, with several locations around the city. The interior look is pretty typical of a tex-mex place in the Midwest; looks like a pinata vomited all over the place with a mess of colors and images. The food though, is pretty simple. Made to be cheap and quickly eaten, Puerto Vallarta is exactly the meal you’re picturing in your mind when you think of all discount tex-mex food; no more, no less.

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El Toro

El Toro is a pretty well-regarded Dayton chain, with nine locations up and running right now. It serves good stuff aplenty, offering fast and economical tex-mex cuisine for people all over town. It’s a convenient choice and one is always nearby in this city, but for one reason or another I never managed to try it before now. I’m never one to turn down Hispanic cooking of any flavor — in fact it might be my favorite food to write about. It’s high time I gave the place a try, and it was really very good.

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Taqueria Mixteca

Just east of downtown Dayton, Taqueria Mixteca is a hole-in-the-wall that you’d hardly notice if you drove past it. It’s far from the nicest parts of town where the gourmet chefs dream of $100 wine bottles and Michelin stars, but Taqueria Mixteca is the epitome of the service of online reviews: everybody seems to love this place. The glowing reviews are many. Having read them after the fact, I’ve found a lot of the strengths and weaknesses that so many others have acclaimed all have merit. This place makes some seriously good ethnic food.

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