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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cancun Mexican Restaurant - Review #1

Date of Visit: January 17, 2007
Cancun Mexican Restaurant
7011 Warner Ave
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
(714) 842-3436

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Cancun - Exterior

Met up about a week and half ago for lunch with my cousin Sean at Cancun Mexican Restaurant, a place he recommended and which he goes to on frequent lunch breaks from his work. Sean works at Nitro Records and is also one of the key figures in the Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce revolution. Sean also took a couple of the pictures that appear in this review.

Cancun - Interior Shot #1

Cancun is one of those hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop places that pretty much only the locals know about but it deserves some wider recognition, and that's where I step in, spreading knowledge of this county's many great Mexican restaurants.

Cancun - Painting

Sean got a chicken torta and souped it up with some Gringo Bandito hot sauce which was already there on the premises and which, the owner told us, has been a hit with their other customers:

Cancun - Torta and Gringo Bandito

I ordered one chicken and one fish taco, both were grilled and both were surprisingly zesty and full of flavor. The fish taco had just the right amount of fishy flavor to it and the chicken taco had a robust herbal flavor to it. The fish taco was also filled with tomatos and cabbage while the chicken taco was filled with onions and cilantro which shows that the owners here know that different taco fillings work better with different types of meat. The Gringo Bandito sauce worked especially well on the chicken taco.

Cancun - Chicken Taco and Fish Taco


Cancun - Interior Shot #5


Cancun - Salsa Bar

Sean and I discussed what rating to give Cancun and we were both hovering around the 3.5 - 4 Speedy Gonzales range, so Cancun gets the first 3¾ Speedy Gonzales rating awarded at this blog:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Here's some extra shots of the interior:

Cancun - Interior Shot #2


Cancun - Interior Shot #3


Cancun - Interior Shot #4


Cancun - Dessert Painting


Cancun - Parrot Painting

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Original Olamendi's - Review #1

Date of Visit: January 13, 2007
Original Olamendi's
34660 Pacific Coast Hwy
Capistrano Beach, CA 92624
(949) 661-1005

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Olamendi's - Exterior


Olamendi's -

Due to being in the middle of another horrendous backlog again of reviews to write I am just going to post the Olamendi's photos for now and add my remarks on the place as my schedule allows. Not only is Olamendi's a feast for the mouth but for the eyes as well. Managers John and Gloria Olamendi Haney kindly allowed me to take pictures of their family-run restaurant which has been a favorite for 33 years now of both Republican politicians (Richard Nixon being the most famous; his last visit was about a month before he died) and Hollywood celebrities and the Dana Point locals. Many from all three categories are featured in the numerous photos adorning the walls

Olamendi's - Interior

Some of the celebrities spotted at Olamendi's include:

  • Anthony Edwards
  • Kevin Bacon
  • Courteney Cox
  • David Arquette
  • Oscar de la Renta
  • Heather Locklear and Richie Sambora
Olamendi's - Interior

The childrens' part of the menu at Olamendi's is called "Christian's Speedy Gonzalez Menu." Most readers of this blog will recognize how appropriate that is. The dishes on the childrens' menu are named after other Olamendi grandchildren.

Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior

From out front the restaurant looks small but it really opens up as you head towards the back.

Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior

Olamendi's has three other spinoff restaurants run by various family members; all locations are in the South County coastal area and may be covered here later.

Olamendi's - Day of the Dead Decorations
At Olamendi's every day is Day of the Dead


Olamendi's - Chips and Salsa


Olamendi's - Guacamole
"Shark fin" guacamole

I was having a hard time deciding between all the different breakfast entrees that they had that looked so good so at Gloria's suggestion I got a half-and-half plate with Huevos a la Mexicana and the Huevos Olamendi (scrambled eggs with chorizo):

Olamendi's - Breakfast Platter

What I especially liked about the chorizo was that it was perhaps the least greasy chorizo I've ever had and with just the right amount of spiciness. I took some of each entree, stuffed them into my tortillas and made some of my own custom ultimate breakfast burritos.

I also got a bowl of Huevos a la Tia Lucha, a sort of breakfast soup with a poached egg swimming a red sauce with avocados, peppers, sour cream, and pimento olives.

Olamendi's - Huevos a la Tia Lucha

Olamendi's earns a four and a half Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Here are some more shots of the interior:

Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior


Olamendi's - Interior

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Newport Beach Restaurant Week

"Savor the Flavor of the Real OC..."

Before I forget I should mention that Newport Beach Restaurant Week starts on January 21st and continues through to January 25. This is an event (billed on their site as "A Citywide Culinary Celebration") where many Newport Beach restaurants offer Prix-fixe gourmet menus for five days with reservations recommended.

Mexican restaurants that are participating are:

I'm a little surprised that Kantina doesn't appear to be participating. From what I could gather by talking with a manager at one of these participating restaurants the food served as part of this event will not be from their normal menu selection.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Avila's El Ranchito - Review #2 (Photo Super Post)

Date of Visit: January 2, 2007
Avila's El Ranchito
24406 Muirlands Blvd
Lake Forest, CA 92630
(949) 855-4989

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Avila's El Ranchito

After taking numerous clandestine photos of Avila's El Ranchito during my visit last August I was invited back by the owners and given free rein to take photos shortly before they opened for business one day. Like The Chili Pepper in Orange (and the next place to be reviewed here) this restaurant is decorated to the extreme. The decor is obviously Mexican but with heavy doses of Hawaiian, tiki, and surfing motifs thrown into the mix, all of which is fine by me.

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


Avila's El Ranchito

After taking the pictures I tried out their house soup which had been recommended to me by somebody while I was dining at another Mexican restaurant.

Avila's El Ranchito - Avila's Soup

I wanted to finish off with some of their deep-fried ice cream again but the combination of a late breakfast and early lunch nixed that idea. I got the small bowl of the soup and it was still very filling.

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

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales