560 W 19th St Unit D
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
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Listing on AOL City Guide
No known official website.
Here's Shelly Borrell with her take on Costa Mesa's El Chinaco.
El Chinaco has served up authentic Mexican and Salvadorean food since 1988. My friend and I had not previously eaten there so we wanted to try a sampling of several items To Go -- The pictures will show all. It started with wanting to try a Papusa, a Salvadorean specialty which consists of a homemade corn tortilla stuffed with a filling of your choice. We simply opted for the bean and cheese Papusa. You can’t go wrong with that. But please note, if taking your Papusa to go, be sure to carry it upright so the filling doesn’t leak out, as did with ours. For the record, they did package it correctly, but it shifted in the transition. All are served with Coleslaw, which is the tradition.
In addition, we had a Chile Relleno, Chicken Taquitos, a Chicken Enchilada, and a Carnitas Taco. I really liked the generous servings of sour cream with the enchilada and relleno, plus the large size of the Taquitos, also described as crispy rolled tacos. The menu offers many more dishes further to those we tried. The prices aren’t bad either. A few other items to mention are the Breakfast Burritos, Tortas, Huevos Rancheros, Menudo on the weekends, Fried Bananas, Salvadorean Tamales, and their two different types of Tacos and Burritos, regular or Chinaco style, which is generally the addition of cheese, guacamole and sour cream.
The fresh salsa bar presents a variety of very good and somewhat unique salsas, plus spicy marinated carrots and jalapenos. The salsa lids are dispensed by the cashier to detour some from going too crazy. They told me once a guy made himself thirty to go containers, which resulted in the current rationing to the rest of us. They’ll give you what you want within reason -- I asked for three lids and they gave me five. I was glad to have it.
Locals appear to be in and out of the place all the time. The menu states that everything is cooked in their facility to achieve a homemade taste. It’s worth going back to. Next time I want to try the Empanadas de Platano.
Note: I learned that Salvadorean, Salvadorian and Salvadoran are used interchangeably. El Chinaco uses the spelling above, thus it was applied to the review.
Thanks again, Shelly!
UPDATE (May 15, 2008)Shelly has written in with an update and a couple new photos from El Chinaco:
I've been going to El Chinaco a fair amount lately. They print coupons in Clipper Magazine and it's right across the street from me. I've come to realize that they have some really great things. Their Carnitas Plate is excellent. I've had it my last three visits. This time I used a buy-one get-one free coupon and tried their Carne Asada Plate (both are pictured) -- But I prefer their Carnitas. The Salsas are outstanding too. I'm not sure how much I emphasized that in my first review, but they're very good, especially the second one from the left in the Salsa Bar. One other discovery is their Beans. I usually don't eat much Rice or Beans on any dish, but their Beans are so tasty. I would order a side of them. I was just there a couple days ago and will probably have it for dinner again this week. Well, it is close, and I do get on food kicks…right now its Carnitas. I'm just getting it out of my system and enjoying it. I'll move on soon, but you should try it.
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