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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen - Review #1

(This is only our initial review on Gabbi's. Since this first visit I have covered them many more times . . . and with better photographs. You can choose to read only this review but, if so, you will only be getting a small amount of the information we have on this great restaurant, the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.)

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
(They don't have an official sign out front yet but they're working on it . . . or they may never have one.)

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Interior

I've been e-mailed several recommendations lately of Mexican restaurants to try out. I intend to get to every one of them in whatever order time and circumstance will allow. Of the most recent batch of recommendations Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen was the restaurant I was able to make it to first. Thank you to "El Serracho" for the recommendation.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior

Gabbi's is brand-spankin' new, meaning it opened just over a week ago on July 11. Gabbi is the owner and this is her first restaurant after having managed two of her parents' restaurants before and starting up her own catering service. Her new restaurant's menu was influenced by her upbringing and extensive travels throughout Mexico searching out culinary inspiration from the various states.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
Open Air Seating

The building the restaurant is in is part of Historic Old Towne Orange and features some wonderful open air seating. If you happen to come up on it while walking down the street you'll feel pulled in by the warm and inviting atmosphere. There are a couple tables right out on the sidewalk. The menu can be described as "nuevo Mex" with plenty of soups, salads, appetizers, and entrees to choose from. Our party shared a tropical quesadilla as an appetizer; it was filled with cheese, pineapple, mango, and plantains, and was well liked by everyone. For entrees we ordered a chile relleno, a zucchini enchilada, a Tacos Dorado plate, and the carnitas platter. My friend and his wife took advantage of the childrens menu when ordering for their son. They also have horchata and tamarind aguas frescas.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Quesadilla Tropicale
Quesadilla Tropicale

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Enchilada Flor de Calabaza
Enchilada Flor de Calabaza

Their chile rellenos have different stuffings each day. My friend's mother ordered one stuffed with chicken and cheese:

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
Chile relleno

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
Carnitas platter

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
Tacos Dorado

Desserts for now include an ice cream-topped brownie that I believe they call a "Chilly Brownie" (I could be wrong on that though) and flan topped with raspberry puree. They are working on developing a more complete dessert menu which will also include the chocolate flan currently only available through Gabbi's catering service. Looking forward to trying that. When you go you are likely to see Gabbi and her husband Ed out and about mingling amongst the customers making sure that everyone's needs and wants are tended to. Let them know you found out about them from the OC Mexican Restaurant blog.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Brownie
Ice Cream Brownie

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Flan

I'm definitely going back to sample some more menu items and take some more photos but I think Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen will be only the second restaurant reviewed here to earn a five Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

This is only our initial review on Gabbi's. Since this first visit I have covered them many more times . . . and with better photographs. You can choose to read only this review but, if so, you will only be getting a small amount of the information we have on this great restaurant.


omar c said...

Wow, a 5 speedy-g rating ey? High praise. Looks pretty good from the photos, especially the quesadilla and the ice cream brownie :D

Anonymous said...

Definitely a 5 Speedy G rating; the cerviche is outstanding!

Michael. 8 Aug 06

Gutierrez, D said...

!Delicioso! I tried the chicken mole enchilada and it was wonderful. My date tried the carne asada burrito (he doesn't stray too far from the norm0 he absolutely loved the flavor of the Top Sirloin unlike anything we have ever tasted. The entire dining experience was outstanding and I highly recommend the margaritas too. They are homemade and worth savoring.

ChristianZ said...

Thanks for all the comments. I'm hoping to make it back in the next week or so.

Anonymous said...

My wife loves the place. Try the churros after your meal. Awesome.

Anonymous said...

what's the deal? did nobody try the salsa? it tasted like watery marinara sauce. i can't eat at a mexican restaurant that has bad salsa. i eat at a lot of mexican restaurants and i love salsa. the salsa at gabbi's is without a doubt the worst salsa i have ever tasted in my life. unbelievable. the rest of the food was very mediocre. it was forgettable. i have better food at el torito. sad, but true.

Anonymous said...

Well, if the other commenter thinks he has had better Mexican food at El Torrito, he better go see a Doctor about his taste buds! We have eaten there several times and it has always been great! Even the salsa. We have recommended it to friends and they have loved it. In fact that is how we found the place, it came highly recommended from some friends of ours. Bob L. Ana Hills.

Anonymous said...

I have never been treated so horrible at a restauarant before...especially by the owner.

ChristianZ said...

To anonymous, can you e-mail what happened to me at Maybe I can help to resolve your concern.

Anonymous said... could of been an awesome neighborhood restaurant if the owners had some common sense to appreciate their patrons not to mention taking some business courses....our last time there was terrible. gabbi's husband was rude and pushy. he didn't want to accomadate our friends and family. he was worried that we would hold up a table too long and he would lose money. we spent more money in drinks than some people would order in food? get to know who you serve and who spends money in your place it's quality not quantity...the best advertising is word of mouth. since you left a bad taste in ours, your done!

ChristianZ said...

It sounds like you had a fluke experience that is completely different from what I have experienced there and what anyone else has said about them. Give it another chance. I always go by the rule of Auric Goldfinger:

"Once is happenstance
Twice is coincidence
Thrice is enemy action"

Anonymous said...

well...I wrote the short comment about never being treated so horrible by the owner and someone else wrote the other comment after me. Looks like one more strike and they're out. They wont be getting that chance by me. I have already found another place close by to spend my money at. Great food, awesome margarita's and mariachis!!!! El Zocalo!! Oh, I forgot to mention friendly!

ChristianZ said...

The two complaints might be real but they are a drop in the bucket to all the positive compliments I have heard about them. I'll still be trying El Zocalo sometime.

Anonymous said...

Good Food, Terrible service and someone always driving by honking a very loud train horn. Brett

Anonymous said...

I agree, terrible set up in terms of a "waiting space" to eat. They need a bigger bar area for sure. Service is good (watiers/cooks) managers/owners are poor and learn from the people that they pay. I've eaten there 4 or 5 times, can't complain about the food. It's mainly the handling of the place and the attitude of the higher-ups.

Mary said...

While the space may not be abundant for the quickly growing clientel, the food and service are well worth the wait. The entire staff was friendly, fast and helpful in finding good seating, suggesting good foods to try and giving prompt service. I highly recommend taking a walk away from the common and trying the enchilada de camerone. Finish the meal with the Mayan chocolate tart or the new banana rum cheesecake. To die for!!!! Mary

ChristianZ said...

Thank you for the comment. I don't think they had the banana rum cheesecake when I was there about two weeks ago so maybe they've updated their dessert menu since then.

Nate said...

I would say the complainers, well, just like to complain. This is our favorite restraunt. We go very often and you should expect to wait. The place is small, and the bar is crowded. We usually put our names in and then take a walk and window shop the great antique stores. The service is the other reason we love the place. But the food is worth brining your friends and family to. I agree with the rating and we are going there tonight!!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, i also had a bad experience. The food was good, there is no doubt about that. However, everyone from teh waiter to the manager seemed to look at our party as if we were in the way and did not want to accommodate us at one table. We had 7 and it was not crowded when we went in. we started out at split table and after 20 minutes asked if some vacant ones could be moved together and they did it - but not pleasantly. I had to ask 3 times to get a water refill.

Tony said...

Gabbi's restaurant would be a pleasant experience if their prices were lower. Not worth the big bucks for the selection on the menu. Prices for the margarita's are ridiculously high. Imagine two guys sharing a dinner and they split charge cost $4.50....give me a break! Two rounds of drinks and dropping almost $90.00 with tip! This is not Newport Beach so they lost my business!!! I won't refer my friends or clients ever again. Try another Mexican restaurant that doesn't rip you off!

ChristianZ said...

I wouldn't know. I never get margaritas there. And the food is a little on the pricey side but even that doesn't matter much to me, not because I'm rich (because I'm actually poor), but because nothing's making me go all there all the time. I can go after a month or two of having eaten at cheap places and it's no big deal.

Anonymous said...

Gabbi's is pretty decent. El Zocalo is a joke. Zocalo is doomed to fail in my opinion. First of all, the location is the kiss of death, nothing has made it in that building since the Ancient Mariner, many years ago. Since then at least 4 or 5 restaurants have tried and failed in that location. The food is mediocre at best, the service is slow/almost lousy, and they actually RAN OUT of margarita mix once when I was there!

Gabbi's is much better than Zocalo, but still not spectacular. Frankly, when I want really good, authentic mex food, I don't find it in the fancier places like these, I find it at the local hole-in-the-wall places. Super Antojitos, and Bajia Ostoneria both have more authentic, better food than Gabbi's or Zocalo, but neither has a bar, unfortunately.

ChristianZ said...

What establishes authenticity for you? Gabbi and her husband are constantly making trips down to Mexico and bringing recipes back to their restaurant.

Anonymous said...

I live in Old Town Orange and I LOVE Gabbi's. I have always had wonderful service from everybody and the food is awesome! My favorite drink is the pomegranate Mojito. Yes, its a bit pricey and I am not rich but the atmospehere is nice and the food is awesome, so its a treat for me to be able to go and enjoy a nice dinner with cocktails every now and then. I am SO happy this establishment opened so close to home!

ChristianZ said...

Thanks for the comment. Have you seen our other entries in Gabbi's?

matt said...

I would not recommend this place to any-one. The service SUCKS. The management SUCKS. I've had 2 bad experiences at this place. Too bad too cause the food is good. I live in Old Town Orange and I will never go to this place again!

ChristianZ said...

Hmm, what happened?

Anonymous said...

Been there 3 times and everytime it was just wonderful! I want to go back soon. It really is a special place with great food.

ChristianZ said...

Good to hear you've had consistently good experiences. Are you getting different menu items each time?

Patti Carol said...

Are you kidding me? Gabbi's has great atmosphere and good food but the meanest hostess in Orange County. We no longer go to this restaurant because we have been treated so rudely several times by this young woman.

ChristianZ said...

I've never encountered this hostess in all my many visits. Have you brought the matter up to the management?