Don't be put off by the goofy-looking armadillo with a taco in one hand and a margarita in another that adorns the exterior of this restaurant. Owned by Mike Jettner, the man behind Jet's Public House (the "not your typical neighborhood bar" right next door), Rusty Armadillo Grill & Cantina is modern Mexican done right.
Enter through the castle-like door, and you'll notice how the furnishings evoke the Southwest. Tierra tile floors, burnt-orange plush seating and bedrock-brown walls all make for an authentic setting. Join the few regulars at the bar and let the bartender put together the Northwest Sunrise ($7), Rusty's version of the tequila sunrise. Grab a table on the main floor and enjoy community-level dining beside garage-door windows, or head to an elevated booth.
Whatever your spot, you'll never miss a highlight; seven flat-screen televisions encircle the room and there's always a game on. On crowded nights, ditch the downstairs and follow the avocado walls up to the overflow room. This room, ideal for private parties of 38, features an additional bar, hardwood floors and a rooftop patio. As Jettner says, "It's an alternative way of enjoying your evening."
The names of certain dishes like the Soon to be Famous Fish Tacos ($10.95) or the Mexi-Skins ($6.25) are as clever as the restaurant's mascot. Appetizers start at $4.95. If you've got a monstrous appetite, go for the Ginormous Mixed Grill ($15.95): skirt steak, chicken breast and shrimp served with quesadilla wedges. Afterward, let a few friends assist you in slurping down a 60-ounce margarita ($28) in one of seven flavors.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez