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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Matador Cantina

Date of First Visit: June 2, 2009
Matador Cantina
111 N Harbor Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 871-8226

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Winner Best Mexican Restaurant

Matador Cantina Voted Best Mexican Restaurant. Honored at 2013 Golden Foodie Awards

Fullerton, CA (October8, 2013) – Matador Cantina is honored to be the recipient of the 2013 Golden Foodie Award for Best Mexican Restaurant. Held Sunday, September 29th at the Fairmont Newport Beach hotel, the program honored some of Orange County’s most inventive culinary minds.

“This was certainly a team effort, and one I’m very proud of,” said Matador Cantina Executive Chef David Dennis. “It’s such an honor to be able to bring this award back to Fullerton and share it with our guests. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”

Known for its inventive Latin-inspired dishes, Matador Cantina has previously garnered “Best of” honors from a variety of other organizations, including Orange County Register, OC Weekly, and Orange County HotList among others.

About The Golden Foodie Awards
The Golden Foodie Awards were created to honor extraordinary culinary talent. The GFA’s harness the collective power of the entire community to recognize local excellence and celebrates with a lavish red carpet gala. This event embodies the spirit of food and community in a way that has never been done. Food lovers around the county vote in this people’s choice style award during the month of August with winners announced at The Golden Foodie Awards. The event illuminates the local Orange County food scene and celebrates Independent and/or Chef driven Restaurants.

About Matador Cantina
Founded in 2009, Matador Cantina is nestled in the heart of historic downtown Fullerton within the city’s oldest commercial building, built in 1899. The restaurant features modern Mexican cuisine by executive chef David Dennis, available for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Also, known for its libations, Matador Cantina offers a full menu of crafted cocktails, including an assortment of award-winning margaritas, full selection of Mexican and craft beer, as well as over 50 types of premium Tequilas and Mezcals. Lunch is served daily from 11am, dinner from 4pm, and brunch from 9am Saturday and Sunday. Matador Cantina features its award-winning Taco Tuesday every Tuesday from 2pm with fresh-grilled tacos and featured drink specials. Happy Hour is offered 2pm-6pm MondayFriday. Open daily ‘til 2am. Matador Cantina is located at 111 North Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA. For reservations and info on special events and private bookings, call 714.871.8226 or visit


Interview with Chef David Dennis

Q: Best part of being a chef?
A: Creating in the kitchen, and making people happy.
Q: Name a kitchen utensil you couldn't do without.
A: A good knife.


Q: What's more important, food or service?
A: They're equal, and good food and service must go hand in hand.
Q: What Matador menu item is requested most?
A: Our specialty Chile Relleno.
Q: What is Matador known most for?
A: Great food and drinks.
Q: Name something no one knows about you.
A: I lived in Haiti.


Q: What would you be doing if not a chef?
A: I would enjoy being a SCUBA instructor.
Q: You were appointed as Matador GM, in addition to your role as head chef. How does this change your outlook of the business?
A: I've always worked both front and back of house so I would know everything about the business. I like being involved in every aspect.
Q: Favorite restaurant?


A: Changes every month, but now it's Olivia's Bistro.
Q: Favorite chef?
A: Thomas Keller.
Q: Chocolate or berry parfait?
A: Chocolate any day.
Q: Two or four wheels?
A: Two. I enjoy riding my bike every chance I get.
Thanks to Chef Dave for answering the questions and to Rob Hallstrom for facilitating the interview and helping with a couple questions. Read the other half of the interview by going to the OC Menus blog.

Matador Cantina Introduces New Signature Cocktails for the Spring Season

Fullerton, CA. (March 28, 2011) - Matador Cantina is pleased to announce today's launch of its specialty seasonal cocktail menu for spring.

Matador’s penchant for quality, handcrafted cocktails using premium liquors fused with fresh-squeezed fruits, bitters, and house-made mixers makes it a popular destination for uniquely crafted cocktails.

Designed by mixologist Ricky Yarnall, each new drink brings the freshness of spring in taste and presentation. The spring season lineup includes six new drinks such as the Alimony, made with strawberries, cucumber and Right Gin; Señor 75, a mix of Ilegal Joven Mescal, fresh house-made sweet and sour, and Champagne; and Lime & Honey, with Sagatiba Cachaça, raw sugar, limes, and Bärenjäger.

The Mañana Mañana combines Sauza Tequila, fresh grapefruit juice and Orgeat syrup to create a drink that is a unique twist on traditional Mexican Tequila. The Jack of Diamonds is made with fresh green grapes with Hendrick’s Gin and Yellow Chartreuse; and Vic’s Mai Tai is made with Trader Vic's Original Mai Tai recipe, aged rum, Orgeat, lime juice and topped with mint.

New Vegan Selections

Fullerton, CA. (February 15, 2011) - Matador Cantina, Fullerton's premier destination for authentic Mexican food and drinks, now offers vegan and vegetarian menu items.

Acknowledging the popularity in health food trends and a growing number of vegetarians, Executive Chef David Dennis has created specialty dishes with meat alternatives, like Vegetarian Fajitas, Vegan Street Tacos, and Roasted Shallot and Portobello Tacos.

The fajitas, regularly served with a choice of fresh-grilled meats, are now available with Portobello mushrooms, grilled peppers and onions, guacamole, and sour cream, with the option of house-made flour or gluten-free corn tortillas.

Roasted Shallot and Portobello Tacos are made with Pico de Gallo, Cotija Cheese and topped with lettuce with choice of soft or hard shell gluten-free tortillas.

The Vegan Street Tacos are made with seasoned soyrizo, a house-made meat alternative with sautéed Poblano peppers and grilled onions. This offering is also available as a meat substitute for any menu items at no additional cost.

Click to enlarge drink special info

If you remember Fullerton's old Rockin' Taco that was mostly a bar and a little bit of a restaurant, well, now Matador Cantina is in its place and is mostly a restaurant and a little bit of a bar.

I found out about them quite some time ago but didn't get a chance to go until last Tuesday. It is similar to Gabbi's in that it was built into an 1899 brick building then refurnished with elegant handmade decor (even the bar stools were individually handcrafted).


On this strip of Harbor Boulevard in historic Downtown Fullerton there is no parking so park behind the restaurant and enter through the back:


Or enter through the front if arriving by foot:



They still have the Fullerton's original Taco Tuesday carried over from Rockin' Taco's legacy but with their own gourmet twist:


Start with tri-colored chips and salsa:


The tri-colored chips also form the outer crust of their unique spin on the chile relleno, which is also stuffed with creamy, dreamy, steamy Oaxacan cheese:


Chile verde

Dessert platter

Click here to see the complete album (84 photos so far) at .

Here's a press release I was sent about the executive chef at Matador Cantina

The Matador Cantina Announces Appointment of Executive Chef Dave Dennis

Fullerton, CA (March 4, 2009) – The Matador Cantina, today announced the appointment of Executive Chef Dave Dennis. Dennis brings to the position over 10 years of diverse experience having led the culinary teams at such notable restaurants as Ruth's Chris in Phoenix, Arizona, Keegan's in Chandler, Ariz. and most recently King's Fish House in Orange, California, where he served as Executive Chef for five years and helped the restaurant earn "Best of" Orange County honors two years in a row.

A graduate of Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Southern California native expanded his culinary repertoire to include a wide range of Mexican cuisines while living in Mexico near Puerto Vallarta and while working as a private chef on a chartered yacht in Panama.

"Living in Mexico afforded me the pleasure and incredible firsthand experience of authentic Mexican cooking at its best," said Dennis. "What I now apply to my own recipes was initially developed from generations of cooking methods straight out of a Mexican kitchen."

In response to his appointment, Matador managing partner Mario Marovic stated, "Chef Dennis is an extraordinary talent and we are extremely pleased to have him onboard. We believe that with his help, the Matador will raise the bar for great Mexican food in Fullerton and throughout North County."

The cuisine will be a fusion of native and contemporary Mexican favorites with a hint of other cultural flavors. The result: traditional items such as Tres Enchiladas using varied sauces made from robust peppers and garden fresh ingredients to unique and mouth-watering dishes such as Chorizo Ravioli served with a cilantro cream sauce.

The Matador Cantina is located at 111 North Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA. Lunch will be served daily from 11am, 365 days a year. Brunch will be served from 11am Saturday and Sunday. Dinner reservations, as well as private party information prior to opening can be obtained by calling 714.871.8226 or visit for updated info.

Media Contact: Rob Hallstrom, 714.473.7033,

And here's some photos they sent me:








UPDATE: And here's some photos of my own from a subsequent visit I made where I tried the excellent queso fundido and chorizo ravioli:



House salad w/ pepitas & tequila-lime dressing

Carnitas platter w/ sweet potato fries and grilled vegetables


Travis said...

The food at the Matador is amazing. It instantly became my wife's favorite place to eat in downtown Fullerton.

ChristianZ said...

Thanks for the comment. Good to hear from somebody who's been there.

Mudgy said...

I love the Matador! The food rocks!!!

dining table said...

Travis is telling the truth. The food of Matador is very amazing. The place is so relaxing. That place one of the favorite of my family.

Best Places to Eat in Seattle said...

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ISO 22000 Training said...

I haven't been in downtown Fullerton. If I do one of these days, I'll definitely stop by Matador Cantina and meet the chef. :)

ChristianZ said...

Go for it!