Manager Julio Miramontes said two things bring customers back to Guadalajara in Springettsbury Township: the food and the handmade chairs.
Images of birds, women picking flowers and men extracting sap from agave for tequila are carved into the brightly painted chairs, exports from Mexico.
"They just feel in love with the chairs," he said. "They want to take home the chairs."
(For the record, they're not for sale.)
Paintings of villages, churches and artist Frida Kahlo hang on the walls, and Mexican folk music plays lightly in the background.
Miramontes, 22, said walking into the restaurant is like traveling to Mexico, where he lived until he was 17. He said both the food and design are authentic.
I stopped by for a late weekday lunch recently. A host immediately greeted me, and a server promptly followed with complementary chips and salsa. I try not to fill up on chips when I go out for Mexican, but they were homemade and extra delicious. I gave in and had a few.
Guadalajara offers lunch specials less than $10 from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but I just missed them. The restaurant also holds happy hour 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, $3.95 margaritas on Mondays and $8.99 beef or chicken fajitas on Wednesdays.
I decided on the fish tacos, served with pico de gallo and Spanish rice. The grilled tilapia was tucked inside flour tortillas and topped with lettuce and tomatoes. The meal tasted fresh, carefully prepared and full of flavor.
Miramontes said it's spices - such as garlic, chili powder and cumin - that make Mexican meals authentic. But the cooks are cautious not to make the food too spicy. He said the menu includes dishes that everyone can enjoy.
"You can do Mexican, but you have to mix it up, too," Miramontes said. "The point is making great food so people can enjoy it."
The restaurant opened about five weeks ago, and he said the menu has been popular among customers and that the restaurant already has regulars.
"Everything has been selling," Miramontes said. "We have no complaints, yet."
If you go
LOCATION: Guadalajara, 2600 E. Market St. in Springettsbury Township
LEIGH'S PICK: Fish tacos, served with pico de gallo and Spanish rice ($9.50)
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday; 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
PRICE RANGE: 35 cents to $15.50
ACCEPTS: Cash and credit cards
KID'S MENU: Yes
DETAILS: Call 717-801-1238