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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gammy's Cafe - Review #1

Date of Visits: August 14, 15, and 20, 2008
Gammy's Cafe
415 N Grand Ave
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 835-8328

Listing on Yelp

Review at Monster Munching

No known official website.
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In my day job as a web developer I recently worked a little stint at The Orange County Register. On one of those days I asked a guy in my department where he likes to go for lunch. He mentioned that there was a place within walking distance called Gammy's that had great tacos. Well, of course I'd heard of Gammy's before; it's that place I've driven past a million times on the way to another place with a surprisingly similar name. I just hadn't stopped there yet and for some reason I hadn't connected that it was so darn close to the Register building.


So I made a hop, skip, and jump over there and instead of trying the tacos I ordered a chile relleno and an enchilada:



This is where it gets to the hard part: the food just wasn't very good. Anybody who's been reading this blog for a while knows I try to give every place a fair shake even places that I find out later on didn't deserve it at all (note Rasta Taco) but I had a hard time getting through this meal and felt sick afterwards. I'm not even sure what it was that caused it but the ill feeling was definitely for real. It didn't help that the chile relleno was sitting in a lot of watery sauce that just made everything on the plate kind of soppy.

I barely stumbled back to my desk and my co-worker asked me how it went and I replied, "You said their tacos were good and I didn't try the tacos but maybe I should have." He said, "Yep, get the tacos."

So, in an attempt to give them a second chance I went back the next day intent on just ordering tacos. This time a different cook was on duty. From the menu board I ordered an al pastor taco and a lengua taco then asked if they had any tacos not mentioned on the board. I basically said, "Give me something unusual but not gross." The teenager taking my order told me they had tripas tacos and said I should give them a try. Okay, I'll add that to my other two tacos (if I remember correctly the tacos are in the $1.25 - 1.75 range).


I get my plate of tacos and some salsa and lime wedges and radishes and I start eating and everything's a different experience. The tortillas these tacos are in are amazing. I'm not sure if they're handmade or not; they seem like really professionally made handmade corn tortillas with a wonderful, slightly buttery flavor to them and just the right thickness. All the meats were excellent and my innards just kept wanting more. The tripas (intestine) were like thin bubbles of fat with meat all around. I looked at them and was afraid they might be too chewy but my fears were allayed upon the first bite. And the lengua taco didn't have that nasty taste you get in your mouth when you bite your tongue, as I've experienced in other lengua tacos before.

When I finished this meal there was no trace of sickness, just a well-satisfied stomach. I marched back to my desk at The Register and reported that everything went better when I ordered the tacos.

A few days later I met up with Jit Fong Chin, high school sports writer for The Register and sometimes contributor to the Gluttonista blog on The Register's website (and photographer for all the remaining photos in this entry). We met up knowing we were going to go to a Mexican restaurant for lunch but not having settled on which one. Jit suggested Gammy's, paused, and then said, "But I want to make sure the good cook is on duty first . . . "

So we walked over there and looked in the kitchen and I said, "I think it's the good cook on duty." So we both enjoyed some more wonderful tacos from there such as the chicken taco and the al pastor taco:



Somehow my meals also cost less each time . . . and I always got a drink (be sure to try their aguas frescas). The first visit cost me $10.71, the second $7.20, and the third was $4.87.

I think I will give them a 3.5 Speedy Gonzales rating for now. From my limited experience I can't say that you should only get tacos from there or that there really is a good cook and a bad cook that work there but I did notice a difference in my different visits there but even the Yelp listing (linked to above) mentions inconsistency in the cooking here. So my intention in bringing up the negative is more in hoping that they can smooth over this inconsistency, not to kick them down. Everyone that worked there was very nice including the guy who I think is Gammy Sr. He was very helpful and accommodating. If you've been here before or are planning on going please leave a comment to report on your experience.

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

UPDATE: Went back on June 5, 2009, and got a two taco plate with a carnitas taco and a buche taco:


Very good. I think they may have their cooking inconsistencies smoothed over now.

Click here to see the unedited album (14 photos) at .


Diamond Dog said...

When good Mexican restaurants grow on trees in S. Cal., no need to ever go to mediocre places like this. Especially when Carnitas Los Reyes is only about 1.5 miles away!

ChristianZ said...

Well, 2 out of 3 times it was really good.

Captain said...

Welcome to the tripas club, Mr. Z.

ChristianZ said...

Oh, I've had it a time or two before.

fong said...

Hey Christian, good to meet you for lunch that day. We should do lunch again sometime when you're in the area. BTW, at the sports department, I helped to maintain the high school Web site, but I didn't report and write. (And I wrote that previous sentence in the past tense because I've moved on to other online projects at the Register.)

Diamond Dog: True, if I was already in my car, I might drive a little farther away for more consistent fare. But I'm happy Gammy's is within 5 minutes walking distance of my cubicle.

ChristianZ said...

Thanks for the correction. I thought I might not be getting the info entirely correct. Did you ever get the e-mail I sent when this review went up? Just trying to make sure my e-mails are getting through to people.