All ages

Illustration by Mark Stivers

Chimi-no-no: Mexican food is so much more than tacos and burritos. Ulises Ponce proves it at Margarita’s Village (524 12th Street), his restaurant that opened in Alkali Flat in late June.

“That’s the beautiful thing about Mexico,” he says, dabbing sweat from his forehead after cleaning out a trash bin in a button-down shirt. “We don’t have just one culture—it’s many different things.”

Ponce showcases the cuisine of his native central Mexico on the menu: There are the fried, cheesy wedges of tlacoyos and tacos dorados with a hard shell. “It’s crunchy, but it’s not crunchy like Taco Bell,” he explains. The tortilla is carefully warmed, dried and held together with a toothpick before going into the frier to give it a pliant crispiness.

In addition, there are meals from coastal areas like Yucatan and its fish and cochinita pibil (pork)—both cooked in the earthy sauce of achiote. And, yes, even those familiar Chicano dishes like burritos.

Ponce and his business partner Francisco Peña hope to create a different kind of Mexican restaurant from the norm in Sacramento: One that isn’t a cantina.

“My concept is more a family place … not the big, loud stuff,” he says. “I have kids, and it’s difficult to find a place to go with your family.”

Still, you’ll find beer, wine and, with a name like that, you bet there are several margaritas. Ponce draws the line—or the Tex-Mex border—at chimichangas, which you won’t find on the menu.

“If you ask for chimichangas in Mexico City … the best thing to do is run,” Ponce jokes. “In Mexico it has a double sense. I don’t want to tell you. It’s part of the body, so …”

This is a family establishment, after all.

Noodling around: Regulars of Shoki Ramen House, take a deep breath: The menu has changed. But really, the 10-year-old eatery (1201 R Street and 2530 21st Street) has returned to its roots. Instead of offering your choice of noodles, broths and bowl sizes, the kitchen now serves seven standard ramen dishes, including two new options. The good news is that they’ve reverted back to their original prices, an average of $1 less for a regular-sized bowl, including the sought-after Tan Tan Men that’s now $7.90. Exhale and slurp on.

Creamy coffee: Philz Coffee, popular in the Bay Area for its made-to-order, hand-poured coffee, opened its first Sacramento location at 1725 R Street on Friday. In this heat, its iced mint mojito coffee is worth a try.