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Saturday, December 29, 2007

El Fortin - Review #2

El Fortin
700 E Commonwealth Ave
Fullerton, CA 92831
(714) 773-4290

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Appetizer: Chips and Salsa and Mole Sauce
Entree: Estofado con Puerco
Drink: Horchata
Dessert: Flan

El Fortin - Exterior

Whenever I tell people about this little blog here that I run one of the first things they tend to think is that is that I'm on a mission to find and eat the weirdest, most exotic foods out there, as though my life is a never-ending Fear Factor. Well, I don't actively seek out bizarre foods but in my quest to provide complete coverage of Mexican food in Orange County it's hard to not encounter some out-of-the-ordinary food from time to time.

El Fortin - Interior

Now, El Fortin is a mini-chain with two locations, one in Stanton and the other in Fullerton, with the Fullerton one being much more well-known. Both locations specialize in Oaxacan food and are known for serving chapulines (grasshoppers). However, I actually covered the Stanton location first. In that review I talked about eating one grasshopper when the waiter "encouraged" me to.

El Fortin - Chips and Salsa

When I finally got to the Fullerton location two days ago I met up with frequent guest reviewer Johnny Automatic and his friend Luis, a Mexican who has travelled extensively throughout Mexico. Like me they weren't aiming incontrovertibly to eat chapulines but we still knew we had to at least try some.

El Fortin - Quesadilla con Chapulines (Grasshoppers)

We decided the best way to do this would be to share a Quesadilla con Chapulines. As you can see above they stuffed quite a few whole grasshoppers into the quesadilla. Oddly enough, Luis had the hardest time stomaching it while Johnny gobbled his right up. I was somewhere in the middle. There's nothing off-putting about the taste but you can definitely tell you are eating grasshoppers and discern every distinct part of their bodies. Still, I can think of worse things to eat.

El Fortin - T-Shirt

You can even buy a t-shirt here that proudly proclaims that you ate grasshoppers at El Fortin Oaxacan Restaurant. But be honest, don't buy one if you didn't actually eat some.

El Fortin - Horchata

Like at the Stanton location El Fortin's horchata comes with a shot of watermelon syrup, diced cantaloupe, and a sprinkling of walnuts on the top. They very nicely made me a non-walnut variety.

El Fortin - Enjoying the Food
James and Thomas stopped by too


El Fortin - Estofado con Puerco
Estofado con Puerco

For an entree I got the Estofado con Puerco, sort of a Mexican curry: "Chicken or Pork covered with Oaxaca's mole made from sesame, tomatillos, chiles, raisins, olives and spices. Served with rice."

El Fortin - Coloradito con Pollo
Enchiladas de Coloradito con Cecina

John and Luis both got the Enchiladas de Mole Negro o Coloradito con Chorizo, Quesillo, Tasajo o Cecina for $5.99: "Three tortillas rolled around chicken dipped in either red or black mole and sprinkled with cabbage and cheese. Served with choice of tasajo, chorizo, Cecina Enchilada or quesillo on the top with rice and beans on the side." The listed price is for one ingredient. Each additional ingredient is 80 cents extra. Johnny got the enchiladas with the coloradito and cecina enchilada (the spicy coated fried pork strips). The enchiladas were filled with chicken.

El Fortin - Mole Negro con Pollo
Negro mole con quesillo

Luis got the Negro mole con quesillo. Look at the cheese on that, like very thick string cheese. I remarked that it looked more like rope.

Here's Johnny's input on the visit:

It was fun to try the chapulines and I really didn't have the squeamish factor. But between the heavy spices on them, all the frying and the rich cheese it was pretty heavy fare.

The smoky quality of the mole negro was very nice. I found their negro mole to be less sweet and with less chocolate flavor than others.

I actually liked my mole coloradito better and I know Luis also agreed. It was a really excellent balance of sweet, hot, spicy, chocolate and chiles.

I finished my own meal up with a flan (surprise, surprise) and found it to be very soft and melt-in-your-mouth:

El Fortin - Flan
Flan

El Fortin earns a four Speedy Gonzales rating:

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Just wanted to add that today is the two year anniversary of this blog and, believe me, we have plenty of more content coming.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

El Maguey - Review #2

Date of Visit: December 26, 2007
El Maguey Express
31952 Del Obispo St
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 248-2457

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Appetizer: Chips and Salsa
Entree: Combo #10 (Chile Relleno and Beef Taco)
Drink: Guava Jarritos
Dessert: Michoacan Strawberries and Cream Popsicle
Cost: $9.62

Plaza Sign


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I've got a week off at the end of the year so I'm trying to take advantage of the opportunity to go to Mexican restaurants that are hard for me to get to under normal circumstances. I tried going yesterday to a place way down south, almost to San Diego, but the traffic on the 5 Freeway was so heavy that I pulled off at Camino Capistrano to see what San Juan Capistrano had to offer. I ended up stopping at El Maguey Express, a place I had seen before while tracking down another restaurant.

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Now El Maguey Express is, as the name implies, a smaller version of El Maguey, which Matt M. has already reviewed for us.

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El Maguey Express - Aguas Frescas

I ordered the #10 combo: a chile relleno and a beef taco. The girl who made my food didn't realize I ordered it to eat in so it all got packed up as a to go order:

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The salsa was bold and robust with a citrusy kick, the rice and beans were standard (fortunately the rice wasn't dried out), but the chile relleno was a bit on the soupy side. I don't know if that's normal at El Maguey and it was okay once but not exactly my preference. The taco had a hard shell that, like the chips, was a little greasy, and filled with shredded beef and lettuce. Topped with the salsa it made a better impression than the chile relleno.

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They have a couple different dessert items, including flan and some bakery goods, but I wanted to take advantage of their supply of Mexican popsicles. I went for the strawberries and cream variety:

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As I left and headed to my vehicle I saw this character strutting through the parking lot:

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I should add that I notice that people often search for information on "potato tacos." Well, El Maguey Express had them on special when I was there yesterday but I didn't notice the sign until after I had placed and paid for my order. But if you're after potato tacos keep in mind that El Maguey Express might have them when you go.

El Maguey Express earns a 3.75 Speedy Gonzales rating:

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Dave & Buster's

Dave & Buster's
71 Fortune Dr
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 727-0555

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No, Dave & Buster's isn't a Mexican restaurant, it's more like an adult version of Chuck E. Cheese, but they do have a few Mexican items on their menu. Here's two of them:

Dave & Buster's - Chicken Tortilla Soup
Chicken Tortilla Soup

"Spicy seasoned chicken, tomatoes, corn and potatoes, topped with crispy tortilla strips and cheese."

Pro: Spicier than I thought it was going to be.

Con: no tortilla strips. I got crackers instead. Still good, but think I will ask them to include tortilla strips the next time, but maybe they should just make it a regular thing.

Dave & Buster's - Grilled Chicken Quesadillas
Grilled Chicken Quesadillas

"Grilled chicken, poblano & jalapeño peppers with cilantro, and a blend of melted Mexican and cheddar cheeses, folded & grilled in a cheddar jalapeno flour tortilla. Served with sour cream and salsa."

Pro: The quesadilla wedges aren't soaking in grease.

Con: No guacamole.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Rodrigo's - The UnReview

Date of Visit: December 8, 2007
Rodrigo's
15101 Goldenwest St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
(714) 839-4950

Review at SqueezeOC

Rodrigo's Mexican Grill in Huntington Beach

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Whenever I get ready to go to a Mexican restaurant as part of a big group event I always get revved up thinking I'll be able to get tons of pictures of different dishes and everybody's opinion on the dishes they each got but at the end of each such occasion I realize that the focus of the event was more on socializing than on food.

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My recent visit to Rodrigo's was just such an event seeing as how it was for two different birthdays in the family. Rodrigo's is in the spot at Goldenwest and Bolsa that used to be a Don Jose's Ricardo, then was torn down and a completely new building arose in its place that is now Ricardo's. Oddly enough, during my first visit to Rodrigo's I ordered the exact same dish, the Arroz con Camarones y Pollo, that I ordered during my last visit to Don Jose's Ricardo.

The food at Rodrigo's is not a lot different than the food from the place that used to be there but the decor is definitely a little snazzier. Here are some pictures from my family's dual birthday party visit to Rodrigo's:

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The Botana Platter: "Rodrigo’s finest combination of Nachos, a grilled Quesadilla, Taquitos, Mexi-Wings, and Potato Skins stuffed with Chunky Chicken and melted cheese, garnished with guacamole, jalapenos, and sour cream. $9.99":

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My Arroz con Camarones y Pollo, "Marinated tender shrimp and grilled chicken breast sautéed with peppers and chiles in a mild Jalapeno garlic butter. Served on a bed of Mexican rice and topped with our Red Chile sauce and olives. $12.49":

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Carnitas


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Deep-fried Ice Cream


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Flan


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Got this great rainbow shot before heading in. If you look close you can see that it's actually a double rainbow:

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