Authentic Mexican cuisine in the portside city
Step into Arroyo’s Café, the place where everyone just might know your name. Serving up classic Mexican dishes at its Quail Lakes location (where the restaurant has been since 1999), the menu is focused on authentic, homemade Mexican cooking, much of which is inspired by the dishes owner Mario Arroyo grew up on as a kid. Daily, regulars frequent both the restaurant and the attached cantina—where guests can sip margaritas for happy hour or enjoy a before-the-meal cocktail—giving the family-owned Arroyo’s a very homey feel.
“If it’s not broke don’t fix it,” Mario says of the Stockton staple that opened in 1946. There are a lot of long-time customers who don’t want to see the café change, which inspires Arroyo’s to keep things just as they’ve been, aside from adding some inspiration from Mario’s parents—Jesus and Guadalupe’s—home recipes to the menu when he took over in 1980. And Guero Carlos is still there to guide Mario. “He’s been the backbone of Arroyo’s for over 60 years.”
“We have clientele with families that have been coming to us for 20, 30, 40, even 50 years, if not more,” he says. “The patrons make Arroyo’s Café what it is.”
The décor, the atmosphere, and the food are all nostalgic of a different time, without being outdated. And guests enjoy grabbing tables by the window, where views of the water capitalize on the beauty of the portside city.
Everything on the menu stays true to its roots, perfected for those who want the real deal done well. At all times, servers are seen bustling around with overflowing plates of marinated meats, warm flour tortillas, oozing quesadillas, and perfectly cooked Mexican fried rice and beans. Mario’s favorite dishes include the chicken tacos served on house-made tortillas and the camarones verdes (shrimp cooked in a spicy green tomatillo sauce, served with rice, beans, and a corn quesadilla).
Looking for an appetizer? Start your meal with the Nachos Machos, a creative name play for the oversized nacho plate. This version is a step-up from the standard nachos, finished with sour cream, guacamole, and jalapenos, plus your choice of beef, chicken, or asada.
No meal is complete without an ice-cold beer or lime margarita, both of which pair perfectly with authentic Mexican cuisine. For dessert, settle on homemade flan or pineapple cheesecake and pair it with the strawberry margarita (which is sweet enough to be dessert on its own for the 21 and over crowd).
Don’t shy away from alcohol at breakfast either. At Arroyo’s, there is no judgment for having a michelada with your eggs. In fact, Mario encourages it. The breakfast menu blends Mexican favorites with a sampling of simpler dishes. Guests can dive into something as easy as a cheese omelet, or as festive as the huevos rancheros, machaca, or chicharrones.
Get your fill by adding a la carte extras to your meal. Tostadas, tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas, and more can be ordered by the item not the plate. This is also a great option for making fare lighter, and skipping on the sides of fried rice and beans.
“Our food is made fresh and we put pride in all our dishes,” Mario says.
The cantina, now proudly run by Mario’s son, Mario 2, is a full wooden bar with overhead, hanging lights and televisions playing sports games 24/7 (or at least when the establishment is open, 11 AM-9 PM daily, with extended hours until 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays).
Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, everything on the menu—minus those margaritas—are available to-go. Call ahead to have your meal prepped, and pick it up to enjoy at home.
And whatever you do, don’t forget to take tortillas to go. The fresh, flour tortillas guests swoon over are a staple at Arroyo’s. “Our flour tortillas are made in house on a conveyor belt system. It has been working for us since the 50s!” Mario says.
2381 W. March Ln., Stockton