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Hector's: A Tosa institution since 1989

Mexican fare at Hector's Mexican Restaurant is prepared by Arcadio Morales (left), Juan Carlos Zetina and Pablo Uelaslo (back).

Mexican fare at Hector's Mexican Restaurant is prepared by Arcadio Morales (left), Juan Carlos Zetina and Pablo Uelaslo (back). Photo By C.T. Kruger

Dec. 27, 2011

Mexican restaurants can be found in virtually every community around Milwaukee, but Wauwatosa's Hector's can pride itself on being a bit of a groundbreaker. Opened in 1989 by owner Rob Messinger, Hector's Mexican Restaurant offered south-of-the-border food back when the only other options were chains like Chi Chi's. That it has long outlived that corporate giant is a testament to good food at affordable prices in a fun atmosphere.

Manager Jill Tews says the real secret is in the food.

"We were doing Mexican before anyone was doing Mexican," she explains. "Our food is very authentic. The recipes were passed down from grandmas or families of the cooks, most of whom are from Mexico themselves."

Open every day for lunch and dinner, Hector's is an institution on State Street in Tosa. (They also have a location in Bay View.) It has a casual atmosphere and a menu to please anyone from kids to foodies. As Tews explains, "This is a really fun place, so much so that the people that work here never leave."

Along with their ever-popular margaritas, which Tews describes as "a very good pour," some of Hector's signature dishes are Puerco en Adobo - ancho and guajillo peppers, garlic, tomato and red onion blended together, combined with pork and simmered in red wine and beer, topped with anejo cheese - ($12.95), Tacos al Pastor, also known as "shepherd's style tacos" - tacos filled with pork that has been marinated, topped with cilantro, onions and anejo cheese - ($11.95), and a variety of enchiladas featuring Hector's special sauce ($11.50 to $14.50.)

"We offer only the best, authentic Mexican food," Tews says. "Everything is prepared fresh - nothing out of a can. Rob has quite a flair with food, and it shows in his creative specials."

The Basics

NAME: Hector's - A Mexican Restaurant

ADDRESS:7118 W. State St.

PHONE: (414) 258-5600

WEBSITE: Hectors.com

FARE: Mexican

HOURS: A lunch menu is served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays; the dinner menu is served 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

PRICE RANGE:Lunch, $5 to $10; dinner, $9 to $15 (approximate)

RESERVATIONS: For parties of six or more

HANDICAP ACCESS: Not inside, but the patio is accessible and open April through October.

LOOK TO 'GRAB A BITE'

"Grab a Bite" is an informal look at the food scene in the Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Elm Grove area by freelance writer Karen Waldkirch. Whether you're looking for a place for a date night or a casual spot for lunch, Waldkirch will be out and about scouting eateries for you. If you have a suggestion for a column, email her at kmwaldkirch@yahoo.com.

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