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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Taco Mesa - Review #2

Date of Visit: August 26, 2006
Taco Mesa
3533 E Chapman Ave
Orange, CA 92869
(714) 633-3922

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Entree: Pescado Acapulco
Drink: Horchata
Dessert: Flan de Queso

Taco Mesa

In my quest to try out every Taco Mesa location I recently made it to their spot in the city of Orange for the first time. If you didn't know that Taco Mesa has been voted as the #1 Mexican restaurant in Orange County you might overlook them in this unassuming locale. One of the people I went with on this visit said she used to work right by it and never realized it was there and now she's kicking herself for having not availed herself of the opportunity to take frequent lunch breaks there when she had the chance. So now I'm calling it to your attention. Begun by the brothers Calderon (Ivan and Marco) in the early Nineties the Taco Mesa chain focused on healthy, authentic, traditionally based Mexican food that would fill you up without weighing you down. Fifteen years later they are still going strong with four locations, a spinoff (Taco Rosa - similar to Taco Mesa but with more elegance), and plans for expansion.

Taco Mesa

Pay attention to the specials board when you enter. You might be able to catch a rare dish.

Taco Mesa

I don't know if it's true at other Taco Mesa locations but this one in Orange serves breakfast all day. If you go for breakfast in the morning and are still groggy when you arrive just looking at this wall will wake you up.

Taco Mesa

I also stumbled upon the site recently for Taco Mesa Ministry, a Christian group that meets at the Orange location on Tuesdays and Fridays (although I don't know if they are still active).

Taco Mesa

I ordered their special of the day, the Pescado Acapulco, a yellowtail tuna fillet resting on a bed of acorn squash with spokes of carrot and asparagus. My friends, Chris and Kristanna, took advantage of Taco Mesa's new lunch combos using one of the coupons from my mailer to get the second combo for only a dollar:

Taco Mesa

Below, a worker is serving up some aguas frescas, fresh fruit juices made each day. They make two or three different flavors each day. I had the horchata on this visit and if I remember correctly the other choices that day were watermelon and jamaica, but they have many different flavors to choose from.

Taco Mesa

The walls have eyes:

Taco Mesa - Cat on the Wall
Meow!

The only dessert they offer is baked cream cheese flan with caramel and strawberries, but it is worth it. I used the other coupon from the mailer I brought with me to get the flan for only a dollar. Pay attention to your "junk mail" as these coupons might circulate again.

Taco Mesa - Baked Cream Cheese Flan

Still looking forward to reviewing their Costa Mesa and Mission Viejo locations. Taco Mesa in Orange earns a four and a half Speedy Gonzales rating:

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Other Taco Mesa entries:

Fun With Search Engines

You can find out interesting things by analyzing your site traffic. For instance, somebody from Yum! Brands, the company that "Operates KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's, and A&W restaurants worldwide," recently checked out the site here. Having a little nostalgic twinge for A&W I went to their site and perused around and tried to sign up for their e-mail club but I was told I couldn't because I wasn't at least 18. So, even websites think I'm younger than I really am.
Also, most of the searches done by people who find this site are on Yahoo or Google, but every once in a while an older, more obscure search engine is used, such as Alta Vista, Netscape Search, or Excite. I was especially surprised yesterday to see that someone had found the blog here by doing a search on the nearly prehistoric Metacrawler, which appears now to be a clone of Dogpile, which simultaneously serves up results from Yahoo, Google, Ask, and MSN Search.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen - Photos

I'm updating this entry and bringing it to the top because I have just called Gabbi's and found out that they are closed on Sundays. Their official site doesn't mention this . . . yet. They are open every other day, Monday through Saturday, from 11am to 10pm. Gabbi's is now open on Sundays.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen

This is not a review per se but just photos from my last visit to Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen. Met up there with my roommate Greg, his friend Meredith, and Chris and Kristanna. Ironically, I haven't yet taken pictures I'm satisfied with at either of my two favorite places: Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen and Taco Rosa, but these should do for now.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
Carnitas Platter

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
Shrimp Enchiladas - Greg's trying to be a Seinfeldian hand model again

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
Mole Oaxaqueña - Ed explained that the recipe for this mole sauce came while him and Gabbi were visiting a family in their house in Oaxaca

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Steak Tacos
Steak Tacos

UPDATE (August 20, 2006):

Stopped by Gabbi's yesterday for a very quick, impromptu lunch. Just ordered a bowl of soup and one of their appetizers. The pozole soup comes with a side plate of fresh onions, cilantro, cabbage, and lime to add to the soup as you desire. Also found out yesterday that in addition to their flan and ice cream brownies for dessert they now have tres leches and deep-fried ice cream.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Steak Tacos
Another interior shot


Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen - Painting


Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Pozole Soup
Pozole Soup


Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Mini Mole Tostaditas
Mini Mole Tostaditas

UPDATE (August 29, 2006):

Went to Gabbi's again for a quick dinner after work and found out some helpful information. They are going to be closed September 1st through the 3rd for the Orange Street Fair and re-open on the 4th. On the last Saturday and Sunday of September they are planning on being open for breakfast then may be open on Sundays from that point on.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen - Albondigas Soup
Albondigas Soup

Gabbi's now makes tortillas fresh on the premises:

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen - Making Tortillas


Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen - Tilapia
Tilapia

This time I tried their new deep-fried ice cream even though it has almonds in it (which generally don't agree with me) and it was perfectly fine. It was the only deep-fried ice cream I've ever seen that was in a cylindrical rather than a spherical shape. They are still going to be developing their dessert menu some more as well as their overall menu and Ed outlined some more ambitious plans they have that will be implemented over time.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen - Deep-fried Ice Cream
Deep-fried Ice Cream

Ed also said he's considering not putting up a sign out front because several people have told him they thought it was kind of cool having to find the place only by clues given to them by other people, as though they were on a scavenger hunt. The other thing I learned is that they are actively developing their restaurant's website.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Since this review we have covered Gabbi's several more times. Click HERE or on the "gabbi's" label below to see our numerous entries and better quality photos:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Coming Events #2

Just wanted to point out two events that are coming up soon that promise to have at least some Mexican food. First up, from September 1st through 3rd, is the Orange International Street Fair which has been held "every Labor Day weekend for the past three decades." I went once and it was crowded crowded crowded and if that's your thing go and check it out and sample all sorts of international foods. One street will be dedicated to all things Mexican including food items such as, "Burritos (Asada, Carnitas, Chicken), Taquitos, Chimichangas, Mexican Corn, Tostados, Ceviches, Mexican Fruit Drinks, Water, Soda, [and] Lemonade." If you've forgotten what American food is you can get some of that at the fair too.


Second up, from September 15th through 17th, is Southern California's premier food festival, Taste of Newport. Chefs from over 30 restaurants are going to be there giving live cooking demonstrations and giving away free samples (if you've paid your admission in to the event, of course). Mexican restaurants sending chefs to this event include La Salsa and El Tarasco.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Avila's El Ranchito - Review #1 (Photo Super Post)

Avila's El Ranchito
24406 Muirlands Blvd
Lake Forest, CA 92630
(949) 855-4989

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Appetizer: Chips and Salsa
Entree: Chingolingas
Drink: Horchata
Dessert: Deep-fried Ice Cream

Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito

Avila's exemplifies one of the reasons I started this blog: to create a photo record of all the Mexican restaurants I'd been going to that are wildly and imaginatively decorated. Loud, flamboyant splashes of color; old Mexican artifacts; plenty of Southwestern foliage; zebra trophies for no apparent reason; plenty of stone, wrought iron, and pottery; bull horns and puffer fish hanging from the ceiling; butterflies and acoustic guitars stuck to the walls, with hints of California surf culture sprinkled throughout. This place has it all. Did I mention they also have food?

This is the first time I've been to any Avila's El Ranchito location. I've been by the ones in Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa a million times each but have never gone in. It's been recommended to me a number of times too and I finally made it, ironically enough I made it to a location I never even knew about until the day before. My best friend said he was walking down Main Street in Huntington Beach one night with a friend of his past the El Ranchito there and saw some guy come flying out the front door and landing on his back on the sidewalk just like an old West saloon fight.

Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito
Ed's enchilada/chile relleno


Avila's El Ranchito
Chingolingas (very similar to flautas)


Their deep-fried ice cream rests in a strawberry puree, which of course meant I had to get it:

Avila's El Ranchito


Avila's El Ranchito

As with Las Brisas, Avila's website is old and outdated. The last time I checked they were still celebrating their 35th anniversary in 2001. The website may also crash your browser so proceed carefully. If you want to just view their menu you can get the whole thing from their Yahoo! Local listing.

Avila's El Ranchito in Lake Forest earns a four Speedy Gonzales rating:

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