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Who's got suggestions for one Mexican meal in OC. I'm bringing my girlfriend down from Vancouver who has never had good Mexican food in her life! We're flying into John Wayne, but are willing to drive anywhere in OC. Maybe as far as Long Beach, but not south to San Diego.

I was thinking you can't get any better than the Carne Asada Burrito from Alberto's, but I don't want fast food to be her first mexican experience.

What are your opinions of Las Brisas (owned by El Torrito.) I loved it in high school, but that was before I knew any better. The view is unbeatable, I know, but we are all about the food.

I'm thinking of an authentic divey hole in the wall (Santa Ana?)

Thanks for any input.

Edited by hhlodesign (log)
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I like The Blue Agave in Yorba Linda (near the 57/91/55 Fwy intersection).

Family, not divey, not scenic. Its in a stripmall.

But, Im hoping for some other folks to pipe in and add to the list. I havent eaten Mex in OC in a while, except at TBA.

Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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If you are adventerous and looking for an authentic "divey" Mexican meal I would recommend El Gallo Giro in Santa Ana.

Its across from Mater Dei high school.

Its on Bristol. Get on the 405 north exit at Bristol. Make a right and drive Bristol from the 405 to the place.

I have no problem eating there but it might be a bit to "authentic" for someone else.

Its rare to see any gringos in there.

You enter in a kind of strip mall type establishment.

There is a steam table counter where you order burritos or tacos and all the meats are displayed before you in spanish with little english subtitles. Lengua, Sesos, Birria, Carnitas, Asada, and Pator with chunks of the piapple it was marinated in.

They have an Agua Fresca and Horchata bar to the left.

Its rare to see any gringos in there.

Another less "authrentic" but divey and popular place I would go is in Costa Mesa.

Its called El Matador.

Its on Newport Blvd. So basically from the airport you take the 55 to Newport and when you hit triangle Square with the big Nike Town its about a 1/4 mile on your left.

Its divey tasty and safe.

The carnitas are really good. They crisp up the top of the carnitas to something akin to bacon.

If you want the real deal, go to Gallo Giro.

http://cityguide.aol.com/orangecounty/dini...adp?sbid=138423

Good Luck.

Shaun

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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Also, About Gallo Giro...

Its sometimes takes a few minutes to get a seat and the seating is al fresco, which amounts to school style cafeteria benches or the always fun old home depot white plastic chairs inside.

However, if you are like meand have a sense of humor and want to dive into some really great authentic mexican food, while rubbing shoulders with the abuelas picking up their masa and watch the with a tortilla factory in the back crank out tortillas? Its worth the trip.

Edited by chuckyoufarley (log)

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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Las Brisas by the way is a very nice place to have a drink and a meal.

Its about as Mexican as The Outback steakhouse is Australian.

Pretty place though.

Edited by chuckyoufarley (log)

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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Agreed on Las Brisas. The patio (reserved for casual dining/cocktails) has a simply amazing view, but you're just as likely to get real Mexican food at Del Taco by ordering deluxe chili cheese fries. My vote is definitely for El Gallo Giro, with Jugos de Acapulco in Costa Mesa coming in second. You'll get the real deal at either. Mexican food served Southern California style in an authentic environment. Try the tacos lenguas, goat leg tortas, or crispy carnitas tacos at either establishment. Wash it all down with a mango agua fresca and you'll be happy happy happy. If you're at El Gallo Giro, then take a pack of tortillas or a giant chicharone home with you for later.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Re: El Gallo Giro

Real lard in the tortillas I'm guessing?

Dunno.

Not a deal breaker when your are chowing down on tacos made with Head and Tounge.

Seriously though the Pastor tacos are really great. They have this Gyro meat contraption that roasts the pork vertically. They put a massive slab of Pineapple on top of the spit to baste the pork as it cooks.

Then they chop up the pork and the pineapple together.

Sweet porky goodness.

Wash that down with a few glasses of Horchata and you are in heaven.

The Chile Verde is great too.

Im salivating right now.

Edited by chuckyoufarley (log)

"You can take my foie gras when you can pry it from my cold dead hands"

Shaun Sedgwick

baxter@pinpointnow.net

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Not that you really need it since so many others have already said it, but I give a thumbs down for food at Las Brisas as well. Go for a drink, people-watching and the view, but I can't recommend the food.

Edited by Maison Rustique (log)

Deb

Liberty, MO

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I am also very fond of the Blue Agave. Their chile verde pork (AKA carnitas) is excellent.

My best friends, with whom I stay during the Christmas holidays as well as several times during the year, live just up the road (on Avocado Avenue) and we go there often.

Their sauces are individually suited to each type of food - they don't depend on an "all-purpose" type of seasoning that goes on everything.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Who's got suggestions for one Mexican meal in OC. I'm bringing my girlfriend down from Vancouver who has never had good Mexican food in her life! We're flying into John Wayne, but are willing to drive anywhere in OC. Maybe as far as Long Beach, but not south to San Diego.

If you would like some Mexican restaurants with romantic setting, I would like to mention:

1. Tortilla Flat, Mission Viejo

Patio setting facing the Lake of Mission Viejo. The view is fantastic. Food is good.

2. El Adobe De Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano

http://www.eladobedecapistrano.com/

Very famous locally, cozy setting. They offer champaign brunch on Sundays and have live Macchiata (sp?) band. (I hope they still do. :smile: )

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Who's got suggestions for one Mexican meal in OC. I'm bringing my girlfriend down from Vancouver who has never had good Mexican food in her life!

With all due respect to Orange County, California, perhaps you can wait until you're in downtown Los Angeles to try one of these tacos, as noted in this post?

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Olimendi's in Capistrano Beach is a classic. It's across the road from the beach. Don't worry about all those Nixon photos on the walls, it's fairly authentic. There is one in Laguna Beach, also, but it doesn't have the same feel.

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Who's got suggestions for one Mexican meal in OC. I'm bringing my girlfriend down from Vancouver who has never had good Mexican food in her life! We're flying into John Wayne, but are willing to drive anywhere in OC. Maybe as far as Long Beach, but not south to San Diego.

If you would like some Mexican restaurants with romantic setting, I would like to mention:

1. Tortilla Flat, Mission Viejo

Patio setting facing the Lake of Mission Viejo. The view is fantastic. Food is good.

2. El Adobe De Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano

http://www.eladobedecapistrano.com/

Very famous locally, cozy setting. They offer champaign brunch on Sundays and have live Macchiata (sp?) band. (I hope they still do. :smile: )

Thanks! Romantic settings are nice, but I care more about how the food tastes, although I'm sure both restaurants you recommended are good! :smile:

(Do the mariachi bands members look anything like Antonio Banderas? heh heh...)

Edited by Ling (log)
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Thanks! Romantic settings are nice, but I care more about how the food tastes, although I'm sure both restaurants you recommended are good!  :smile:

(Thanks for the spelling correction. I couldn't spell Spanish to save my life! :biggrin: )

You know me... I aim to eat well! The food in these 2 restaurants are fine. May not be the die-hard authentic kind (with tongue and all) but are decent nevertheless.

There are some hole-in-the-wall types in SJC. But they might be similar (or less as good?) than those in Santa Ana.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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taco mesa in costa mesa.  is it still there?  really good pork al pastor burritos.  but it is a divey place.

It's still there. They have a few around the country. There is in Mission Viejo that I frequent and is not at all in a divey location. That is my favorite, the al pastor burritos, prepared wet.

http://www.tacomesa.net/

For real, divey, mexican food, the city of Santa Ana is still the epicenter of Mexican food for all Southern California.

Edited by savvysearch (log)
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There is a Taco Mesa near us on 19th Street in Costa Mesa. I actually think it may be the original. It resides in an old Taco Bell building back when Taco Bell actually looked like a Mexican food joint. The patio is small and typically crowded and you'll see stickers slapped pretty much everywhere promoting local surf, skate, beer, and clothing companies to name just a few. They take cash only but there is an ATM inside near the counter. The spicy pickled vegetables are a great condiment and snack but I grew tired of the flavors from there. We used to go there once a week at least but that has really fallen off and I can't even remember the last time we went. The brothers that opened Taco Mesa also opened a more high-end version in Newport Beach called Taco Rosa. They feature a similar menu but in a more sit-down environment with margarita service and higher-end menu items like crab enchiladas and lobster tacos. I'm not sure how that place is doing because it's out of the way for us (way up Newport in the hills) and pricey if I remember correctly.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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If you would like some Mexican restaurants with romantic setting, I would like to mention:

1. Tortilla Flat, Mission Viejo

Patio setting facing the Lake of Mission Viejo.  The view is fantastic.  Food is good.

I grew up going here. :wub: Glad to hear it's still good.

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  • 9 months later...
Agreed on Las Brisas.  The patio (reserved for casual dining/cocktails) has a simply amazing view, but you're just as likely to get real Mexican food at Del Taco by ordering deluxe chili cheese fries.  My vote is definitely for El Gallo Giro, with Jugos de Acapulco in Costa Mesa coming in second.  You'll get the real deal at either.  Mexican food served Southern California style in an authentic environment.  Try the tacos lenguas, goat leg tortas, or crispy carnitas tacos at either establishment.  Wash it all down with a mango agua fresca and you'll be happy happy happy.  If you're at El Gallo Giro, then take a pack of tortillas or a giant chicharone home with you for later.

I used to pass by El Gallo Giro all the time for work, but never stopped by until I heard about it here. But, I was in the area to check out the Sears outlet, and stopped by the place. They didn't have any of the dishes recommended- no taco lengua, no goat leg torta, and no mango aqua fresca.

If you're going to go eat there, I think its better if you just pick up the food and go somewhere else to eat. Inside, there's no tables to eat. Just counters and high stools but those are packed by people waiting for their dishes. But, if its a place to just pick up food, it kinda takes a long time to get your food. Nobody wants the souless efficiency of american fast food, where the food is already prepared when you order it. But, there's gotta be an alternative here. They had the same person taking orders and preparing the tortas, which inevitably slowed the whole process down.

Plus, it didn't help matters that they messed up my order twice. There's a language barrier, but I thought they understood what I was saying when I pointed out the dishes I wanted as well as saying the dishes names. But, only after I went to pick up my dishes, did I find out that they had no more taco lenguas and that they thought I had ordered a different torta.

If you go, some rudimentary spanish skills would definitely help. But, that shouldn't be surprising from a place that serves real, authentic food.

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I've always liked El Gallo Giro, particularly the carnitas, but I've noted that the tastiness factor depends on the pieces of meat you get. Sometimes, one taco will be amazing and the next will just be ok. I don't like the tortas and I definitely don't like the tamales. Agua frescas are great... platano, horchata, sandia, tamarindo, mango... Freshly-made tortillas have a nice, sweet corn flavor. I can eat a whole bag over the course of a few days, heated up in the microwave one-by-one in a damp paper towel and slathered with butter.

I've never had a problem being understood, but I used to get stressed out about the number calling (in Spanish), though I could usually tell it was mine if no one stepped up and claimed it. I took some Pimsleur lessons in anticipation of a trip to Spain, though, so I don't have as many issues anymore. :biggrin:

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I've never had a problem being understood, but I used to get stressed out about the number calling (in Spanish), though I could usually tell it was mine if no one stepped up and claimed it. I took some Pimsleur lessons in anticipation of a trip to Spain, though, so I don't have as many issues anymore.  :biggrin:

I had that same problem too. :biggrin:

Living in SoCal, you have to know some Spanish and end up picking a little bit. Even I know cinco is five, but ninety-seven is more than I can handle. I have to count in my head- uno, dos, tres, quator, etc.. to figure out what nine is. But, by the time, I recognize that they called out a nine for the ninety-seven, I've missed out the second part.

I love that combination of lime and cilantro, but the limes given were too dry to squeeze out any juice. I'm kind of curious how much lime authentic dishes usually need, if that's why this store wasn't too concerned about their limes.

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