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SPECIAL TOPICS: Taco TuesdayDisneylandMenudoMexican Flavors on the High Seas

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jack in the Box Free Tacos

Okay, since everyone's searching for it I will mention that Jack in the Box is doing a free taco thing today.


The coupon is good until one minute before midnight tonight. More info at the Fast Food Maven blog.

Monday, February 23, 2009

El Gallo Giro - Review #2

El Gallo Giro
1442 S Bristol St, #A
Santa Ana, CA 92704
(714) 549-2011

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When it was time for me to get lunch earlier today I decided to drive down a stretch of Edinger that has quite a few Mexican restaurants and see which one I ended up at. This stretch is roughly between Jamboree and Bristol. On the way I saw six or seven restaurants I've been to before but I realized the one I've been away from the longest is El Gallo Giro.

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Part bakery/panaderia, part restaurant, part butcher shop/carniceria, and part juice bar, El Gallo Giro (Spanish for "The Blond Cock," or "The Blond Rooster"; UPDATE: Gustavo has left a comment saying it actually translates as "The Fighting Cock.") attracts a lot of local business. While I'm a big believer that it's hard to define exactly what "authentic" means when it comes to Mexican food I still think it'd be hard to see this place as being anything other than 100% authentic.

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I'm only going to scratch the surface in this review and cover more about them later but for this visit I saw a sticker on their carniceria sneeze guard advertising Sopa de Fideo con Pollo. To order, I placed my order in one spot, paid for it at their aguas frescas bar, and picked it up at another spot. I only figured out how it worked with help from the one English-speaking employee there and am not sure how I would've figured out the process otherwise. When I related this to somebody who called me on my cell on the way back they said, "It sounds like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld."


Maybe it is like that but not because any employee there acts like a Nazi, but just because you're not likely to know how the line mechanism works without somebody explaining it to you.

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When you order your food they don't ask if you want it "for here or to go;" they just bag it up and if you want to you can open it up there and eat it at their very minimal counter space. I wanted to eat there but due to the crowd I took it back home with me. My soup had the little noodles in it that characterize Mexican fideo soup, a whole leg of chicken, and plenty of cubes of zucchini in a hearty tomato based broth. It also came with three potato taquitos and lime wedges and avocado slices. Made a perfect light lunch for a day that I already had an early dinner planned. Expect more El Gallo Giro coverage later...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

La Salsa Enchilada Combos


Got to try one of La Salsa's new Enchilada Grande combos yesterday. They come with two cheese enchiladas and you can pick a taco or taquitos or a mini burrito to go with them. I went for the taco and loaded up at their salsa bar, which I still think is the best fast food/fast casual Mexican salsa bar there is.

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Official Site

UPDATE: Somebody just informed me you can become a fan of La Salsa on Facebook. There's a number of things on this page including better photos of their enchilada combos and a video of their Executive Chef Jeff Clark making some salsa verde. I took my own video of Jeff making salsa verde back in June but a technical glitch kept me from being able to add it to the blog here so I'm glad there's another version out there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Orange County Restaurant Week 2009

Find more videos like this on Orange County Restaurant Network - by OC Restaurant Association

The first Orange County Restaurant Week will be February 22nd through the 28th. So far at least three different Mexican restaurants have signed up to participate.

UPDATE (March 2, 2009):

According to the Food Frenzy blog at The Orange County Register's website the restaurant week has been extended at some of the participating restaurants. From the list given it appears that Rockin' Baja is the only Mexican one to extend.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Baja Fresh Fire-grilled Chicken Torta

Baja Fresh Fire-grilled Chicken Torta Sandwich

Went to Baja Fresh to try their new Fire-grilled Chicken Torta Sandwich. The one thing I have to say about it is that it had the best torta roll I've ever had. Wasn't expecting that. It also had a really good sauce on it that their website doesn't mention and there was no information about it on the signage at the location I went to. And what is the secret ingredient in their Salsa Molcajete?

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UPDATE (February 17, 2009):

A coupon sheet just came in the mail to get one of these for $1.50 off what I paid yesterday. Looks like I went a day to soon, but keep your eyes out for the coupon. The mailer describes this new item as, "Stacked with our famous fire-grilled chicken breast, juicy tomato, farm-fresh avocado, and crispy lettuce, all barely contained inside a toasted telera roll," but doesn't say anything about the sauce that is on it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rockin' Crepes

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I may have not mentioned it here in a while but whenever I feel like writing about a non-Mexican place I can post the review at OC Food Blogs. I recently found out about a place called Rockin' Crepes in HB and a couple of their crepes are Mexican-oriented (like the one seen above with scrambled egg, cilantro, onions, cheese, tomatoes, and Cholula) but most are not. The complete review with plenty of photos can be seen here.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Original Olamendi's - Review #2

Original Olamendi's
34660 Pacific Coast Hwy
Capistrano Beach, CA 92624
(949) 661-1005
(949) 661-7341 FAX

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Here's the latest review from Johnny Automatic with his perspective on Olamendi's in Capo Beach:

This is the original Olamendi's in Capistrano Beach. It has been serving up the family's Mexican favorites since 1973. Other members of the family have opened branches of the restaurants over the years but this here is the original. It sits on the thin strip of land along the coast here between cliffside and beach. As popular as it is, parking can be an issue. They have a decent enough parking lot that due to the location is forced to be one-way. So diners leaving the place may be backing out onto PCH.


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10 of us visited on a Saturday in January. A number of people waited outside so we thought the wait would be long. Fortunately we had reservations and seating happened pretty quickly. Upon entering it be came apparent that a number of tables were empty. Maybe all those people were waiting for take out.


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Olamendi's is famous for a couple of things. One is the way the place is decorated with art and photographs filling the place. The other thing it is famous for is being Richard Nixon's favorite Mexican restaurant. Since they only opened in 1973 this would have to have been late in Nixon's presidency or afterwards. Anyway, among the many pictures are ones of Nixon dining in the restaurant. Right near him is one of former President G.W. Bush. So the tradition continues to this day.


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Things started well enough with chips and salsa arriving pretty quickly. The chips were nice and fresh and the salsa was fresh, chunky and had good heat. But after that we seem to have fallen off the staff's radar. It took an unreasonable time to even order drinks. They were delivered eventually, but the waitress vanished before we could order dinner and again waited way too long. Maybe it was break time in the kitchen as from where we sat the cigarette smoke blowing in from the employee's break area was unavoidable.

We ordered a pitcher of Cadillac margaritas which was very reasonably priced compared to the normal margs. But if these truly were Cadillac margs we couldn't tell. They tasted like any other place's normal margarita.


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Apparently someone higher up noticed our plight and to their credit they brought us some complimentary guacamole. It showed up just before our meals did. It was a very good guacamole.


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Albondigas soup - a good traditional rendition.


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The #8 Combo - taco and cheese enchilada. My wife ordered this and liked the taco quite a lot but found the enchilada sauce too tomato-y and a little thin and light. She also gave high marks for the rice and found the beans to be average.


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I ordered the carne asada Olemendi's. It was a well prepared Mexican style steak. I'm watching the carbs right now so I passed on the rice and beans. It also comes with grilled onions and peppers and guacamole.


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Another one of the combos - our resident head gringo found this just to his liking - not too spicy.


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A big monster chile relleno. They make them in the style where the egg batter is big and fluffy.


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Mole Poblano


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Camarones Enchilados Corona del Mar - shrimp enchiladas with a tequila and chile flavored white sauce.


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The carnitas burrito served wet. The meat inside was cold and needed to be sent back.


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Shrimp Fajitas


You can see that the menu is extensive, and in case you forgot about Richard Nixon, all his favorites are pointed out on the menu. In fact almost everything on the menu is a favorite of one of the regulars and is so noted on the menu.

As to the whole experience, obviously it was not the best experience. My fellow diners (except for the cold burrito) didn't find the food exceptionally good or bad, just about what they expected. Was it an off night for the kitchen and staff or is this an old established place that has gotten too complacent? Hard to say. The stuff they did well was worthy of their reputation, long waits and cold food offset the positives. I'll reserve giving them a Speedy rating this time.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Chipotle Opening in East Santa Ana


If you're one of the people searching for info on when the new Chipotle is going to open the news is that it's going to open tomorrow, Friday, February 6, near the corner of 17th and Tustin Ave. from 11am to 10pm. Can't guarantee anything but I might go take pictures of it. While there you can register to win free burritos for a year. Then you can start a blog about how you lived on Chipotle burritos for a whole year. It can be like Groundhog Day or 50 First Dates.

Click the logo above for our complete Chipotle coverage.

Roundup #18

Here's another entry where I cover some stuff that doesn't fit neatly into a standard restaurant review. If this is your first time here don't let this entry throw you off; we really do have tons of reviews of Mexican restaurants, in fact over 200, so just keep scrolling down.

I don't do a review every time I eat at a Mexican restaurant. Sometimes I simply just eat and enjoy. Mexican restaurants I've been to for non-review purposes since the last roundup entry include: Chipotle, Del Taco, Gabbi's, Las Barcas, Taleo, Taco Rosa, El Pollo Loco, El Torito Grill, Azteca's, Sharky's, Charo Chicken, Taco Bell, Baja Sharkeez, Taco Factory, Taco Adobe (both locations), Rollie's, Rubio's, El Matador, El Cholo, Cancun Fresh, and Arriba Baja Grill.

Non-Mexican restaurants I've been to since the last roundup entry include but are not limited to: King's Hawaiian (both CA locations), Nalu's Island Grill, Pat & Oscar's, Crab Cooker (both locations), Johnny Rockets, 50 Forks, Blanca, Sankai, Kaiten Sushi, Ruby Palace, Lee's Sandwiches, King's Fish House, the deli at Gelson's, Kappo Honda, Kabuki, Stonefire Grill, Chick-Fil-A, J&J's House of Subs, Ebisu, The Old Spaghetti Factory, In-N-Out, Hot Dog on a Stick, Funashin, Hashigo, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Express, Sushi Mimi, Market Broiler, Elephant Bar, Daphne's Greek Cafe, Phillipe's, First Class Pizza, The Olive Garden, La Palma Chicken Pie Shop, Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles (what strange twist of fate brought me to the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop and Roscoe's in the same day?), Marie Callender's, The Olde Ship, and Duke's at the Pier.

Even though it's in L.A. I went for my birthday dinner to
La Sirena Grill and Cantina.

Also, I'm likely to be at the El Farolito Yelp meetup this Saturday.

Here's the tacos I got recently from Taco Adobe in Santa Ana:

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And here's a Mexican meal I had put together for me at the deli at Gelson's:

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Here's some carnitas tacos I got at Marie Callender's:

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And some chicken tortilla soup I got at Stonefire Grill:

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Also, Taco Rosa in Newport Beach has expanded their bar area and replaced their tables and chairs inside, something I mentioned a while back that I was waiting for them to do.

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In the roundup entries I tend to put some of the funny Internet searches that people do that lead them to this site. Here is the latest batch:

  • "why should i open a mexican restaurant?"
  • "what do Danes think of Mexican food?"
  • "is del taco popular?"
  • "can i put a flan in a freezer?"
  • "alone in orange county"
  • "chi-poodles pictures"

Monday, February 02, 2009

Taco Bell Platters

Have noticed that people are going nuts searching on "taco bell platter prices." I thought they were referring to several recent Taco Bell items with similar names, but apparently there are some brand new Taco Bell platters now. Due to the heavy demand for info on these products I rolled out of bed this morning at 11am (ok, not really) and drove a whopping three-quarters of a mile away to the nearest Taco Bell and ordered me a Spicy Chicken Enchilada Platter for $4.99:

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The other option is a Beef Soft Taco Supreme Platter. In addition to their main item the platters come with Spanish rice, refried beans, chips and salsa.

Taco Bell Platters Official Site

This location is also testing a Family Fiesta Meal (at least I don't think it's at all their locations), which appears to be a kit with taco fixins' that you take home then make your tacos with. It's like having a Taco Bell franchise in your own kitchen (do homes have kitchens anymore?):

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And they have a new Strawberry Lemonade Frutista Freeze:

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CLICK HERE for tons of Taco Bell coverage.