For an inauspicious, gated storefront eatery off the blue line, Dona Naty's Tacos is full of surprises. Where else in the city can you eat a $4 burrito under a crucifix while listening to a Spanish jukebox? At first glance, the place looks like little more than a clean hole-in-the-wall, but inside you'll find a lively scene of families speaking mile-a-minute Spanish and walls splashed with bright colors, crosses, water jugs and Mexican paintings. The relatively spartan restaurant (think the opposite of flair-filled places like TGI Friday's) still offers plenty to stare at, from the open kitchen to the display case of candy and active slushy machines.
Dona Naty's slow and relaxed service seems to emulate the donkey mascot on its menu, a welcome contrast to the "go-go-go" mentality of modern chains like Chipotle. Things do get pretty busy, though, especially around lunchtime, when the restaurant makes many deliveries to local workplaces. Whether you come early or late, you can grab one of the half-dozen mauve booths and dip into some complimentary chips and salsa. There aren't really waiters, so just go up to the brick counter to place your order; a cook will help you to personalize your dish.
The bilingual menu ranges from rib-eye steak to fajitas, tortillas and quesadillas. A single taco costs $1.49, while a complete taco dinner is $5.99. Sangria flows at Dona Naty's, and dessert offerings include cheesecake and flan (both $2.50).
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Katy Nelson