There’s nothing like feeling the vibe of an area through what its street vendors thrust on a stick or stash in carb-friendly vessels. But sometimes it takes some convincing to get others to eat curbside. It’s a good thing Frijoles & Frescas opted to keep the charm of these culinary vestiges when opening its first brick-and-mortar restaurant last year.
“Our family loves discovering different food on every corner in Mexico, so the idea was to bring that authentic base but put it in an approachable atmosphere,” says general manager Greg Carlson. His father-in-law and F&F owner Alberto De La Paz tapped friend and veteran chef Francisco Salas from Guanajuato, Mexico, to craft fresh flavors. There’s no passport required to experience their authentic cuisine.
Agua frescas. Add these brightly hued drinks to your liquid repertoire, made from fruit, water and sugar. Choose from strawberry, mango, pineapple and more, and feel free to mix juices for your own version or swirl in some horchata, chia seeds or spinach leaves for texture. ($2.50)
Mexican street corn. Known as elote, this popular snack heads to the grill for patches of char and coats of butter before getting an all-around smear of crema—rather than getting bogged down with mayo—and dusting of salty cotija cheese and chili powder. Check out Carlson’s playful video about this skewered snack on the restaurant’s website (frijolesandfrescas.com). ($2.25)
Shrimp cocktail. Forgo visions of Vegas past with this bright rendition, which has all the players mingling in the pool. Mobs of shrimp swim in a stock made from shrimp shells, pico de gallo, ketchup and avocado in a glass mug. Squeeze in some lime, grab a Saltine cracker and take the plunge. ($11.99)
Al pastor mini taco. Salas breaks down and douses pork butt pieces in a fiery adobo-esque marinade and stacks onion, meat and pineapple on the vertical trompo broiler. Shaves of fire-tinged pig meet diced pineapple, onion and cilantro in two corn tortillas for a taste of Mexico City. ($1.99)
Frijoles & Frescas 7000 W. Charleston Blvd., 702-240-2750; 4811 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-483-5399. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.