BEST PLACE TO HEAR LIVE MARIACHI MUSIC - 2005
La Casa del Mariachi
The takeout menu for this great place announces in Spanish that it's "the place where you will find good ambiance, good music and good food." And the restaurant's proud claim is no lie, especially on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. On those nights, beginning at about 6:30, mas o menos, La Casa del Mariachi serves up bueno grub (its specialty is authentic Mexican seafood) and a free mini-floor show featuring live singing, often with live mariachi musicos such as Mariachi Tierra del Sol (who performed last May with the Phoenix Symphony at the Dodge Theatre). The night we went, we were regaled by a good-looking norteño cowboy dude in suit and hat who looked a little like a svelte Garth Brooks doing Mexican karaoke. Garthcito ended up doing a singing lap dance for a gaggle of señoritas, and later in the evening, as they so often do, the folks at La Casa broke out with live mariachi music in the spacious Salon Guadalajara. It'll cost you a cover charge to get in, but it's worth it to enjoy the raucous sights and sounds of a real-deal, full-liveried mariachi ensemble -- not to mention the enthusiastic patrons who play and dance until they shut the place down at 2 a.m.