Locals love North Arlington’s Mariano’s Mexican Cuisine (2614 Majesty Dr., 817/640-5118, www.marianosrestaurant.com , $8–19), with its tender brisket tacos, spicy Texas Torpedos (stuffed jalapeños), and charmingly dated ’70s ambience. Even more impressive, however, is the restaurant owner’s claim to fame as inventor of the world’s first frozen margarita machine (inspired by a Slurpee machine at the local 7-Eleven store and now housed at the Smithsonian museum).
The consistently commendable Estella’s Mexican Restaurant (1224 W. Arkansas Ln., 817/276-8226, open daily, $5–10) is a no-frills Tex-Mex treasure in the ’burbs. Locals flock here for breakfast, but the food—particularly the egg dishes—is worth sampling any time of the day. Estella’s signature dish is the King Plate, featuring scrambled eggs mixed with chorizo (Mexican sausage), bacon, grilled onion, and jalapeño.
Closer to the theme parks is Mercado Juarez Restaurant (2222 Miller Rd., 817/649-0307, open daily, $5–15), a local chain that’s earned raves from Dallasites for decades. Known for its distinctive mesquite-fired grill, Mercado Juarez serves up some of the Metroplex’s best carne guisada. Wrap it up in a freshly made tortilla with the restaurant’s signature warm salsa picante for a classic Tex-Mex flavor combo.
The charmingly down-home Arlington Steak House (1724 W. Division St., 817/275-7881, open daily, $11–27) is a great place to go if you’re looking to unwind with a substantial meal after a day full of amusement. They keep things casual here, and the steaks are consistently flavorful. If you’ve never tried a chicken-fried steak this is a good place to start, and if you’re already a CFS connoisseur, you won’t be disappointed. Locals drop in for the hearty yeast biscuits alone.
Far fancier is the Cacharel Restaurant (2221 E. Lamar Blvd., 817/640-9981, closed Sun., $15–34), offering stunning views of the Arlington  area from the ninth floor of Brookhollow Tower Two. This French-inspired elegant restaurant has a reputation for serving some of the finest steaks in the area. The New York strip and bone-in rib eye are reputable favorites, but adventurous diners also have the option of selecting buffalo tenderloin or the grilled fillet of Texas ostrich.