Follow us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our photos on flickr • We pay $10 per published guest review; E-mail Blogger for info.

SPECIAL TOPICS: Taco TuesdayDisneylandMenudoMexican Flavors on the High Seas

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eat Chow

Date of Visits: May 14, 16, and 26 2009
Eat Chow
1802 Newport Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 650-CHOW

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Listing on Ask.com's Citysearch

Official Site
Yahoo! Maps
Enter starting address:
Address

City, State and/or Zip


IMGP0037

Here's another place that, like Mollie's Country Kitchen, is not a Mexican restaurant per se, but has so many Mexican items that it easily qualifies for inclusion here on the blog. A hip little eatery connected by the hip to a hip little clothing store (The Closet), Eat Chow serves fresh, healthy, crisply presented entrees at a reasonable price ranging from $8 - 14.

DSCF6658

The breakfast menu itself has a whole Mexican section with items such as Huevos Rancheros, Chilaquiles, and an Egg White Burrito. But they also often have Mexican items for breakfast on their specials menu, such as the Chorizo Scramble (shown above). For lunch and dinner they have Baja Style Fish Tacos and Vegetarian Tostadas on their regular menu:

DSCF6656
Baja Style Fish Tacos

I think the only problem I had at Eat Chow was that the tacos were stuffed so full that I had a hard time keeping them together as I picked them up to eat them. The waiter walked by and saw my struggle and remarked, "Keeping it together there?" But that's a problem that's almost a plus. And they also, as with breakfast, have Mexican items frequently appearing on their specials board, such as the light and tangy shrimp ceviche:

DSCF6654

And the crispy beef tacos:

IMGP0036

These tacos remind me of the infamous Jack in the Box tacos but taken to a gourmet level, with fresh lettuce and tomato, no triangular slice of orange cheese, and some Salsa Macho on the side.

And the tortilla soup, made completely on the premises:

IMGP0038

It's worth mentioning that Eat Chow gets its tortillas from the legendary El Toro Bravo. That certainly adds to their street cred. Speaking of streets, be aware that Eat Chow is physically on 18th St., just around the corner from Newport Blvd. It is part of the same building as The Closet and you will be able to see The Closet from Newport Blvd. and Eat Chow shortly after you turn onto 18th St.

Finish off your meal with a flan, deep and rich, topped with a strawberry flower:

IMGP0042

After you eat at Eat Chow you can take your receipt next door to The Closet and show it to them to get 20% off any regularly priced purchase so you can get fed and clothed in one stop.

IMGP0560
Chilaquiles


Click here to see the complete album (16 photos so far) at .

Friday, May 22, 2009

Taco Bell Authentic Tacos

July 29, 2010: See update near bottom of this entry.

(Greetings to all the people coming from Nancy Luna's Fast Food Maven blog on the OC Register site and from Burger Business. After you're done reading this entry click around the site for plenty of information about Mexican food and restaurants in Orange County. There's links all over to help you out.)

Aaaahh . . . Taco Bell, that punching bag of all things Mexican, the chain that gets all the calumny, scorn, and defamation a place can get for being "fake Mexican;" the purveyor of such clearly non-authentic items as the Pizzazz (now called "Mexican pizza" and not as good as it used to be), the Enchirito, the Crispitos, the Snackitos, the Munchitos, the Crunchwrap Supreme, the MexiMelt, and more; the chain that gets accused of creating "fake Mexican" items like gorditas and chalupas when gorditas and chalupas actually did originate in Mexico; the chain that mass-produces what it only officially claims to be "Mexican-inspired" food for thousands, perhaps millions, of people, including Mexicans, every day throughout the world.

IMGP0028

The cognoscenti have a heyday reviling Taco Bell as the worst of the worst of all inauthentic Mexican places. But, seriously, isn't it just way too easy of a target? They aren't trying to trick anybody into thinking they are the independent little taco stand hiding out deep in Santa Ana, so, personally, I don't see any attempt at "fooling the public" by corporate Taco Bell that I have to psychologically steel myself against.

When Taco Bell gets branded as inauthentic I'll sometimes retort with, "Believe me, I know where you're coming from, but I still see Taco Bell as way more Mexican than Panda Express." Having said that, there's still no escaping the fact that Taco Bell is on the low end of the authenticity spectrum. But I did just receive a tip from an unexpected source that the "Test Bell" at Redhill and the 5 was testing "authentic tacos." (UPDATE: I have also seen them on sale at the Taco Bell at Warner and Grand in Santa Ana.) Having had no breakfast and being open to an early lunch I headed out there and found that these things really are called "Authentic Tacos:"

IMGP0027

Available in chicken or steak (sorry, no lengua, cabeza, sesos, etc. although it should be easy for them to pull off something like an al pastor taco), foil-wrapped with no Taco Bell insignia to be seen, served on two corn tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions, rather than lettuce and tomatoes, served with a lime wedge, and no cheese, it'd be easy to get these mixed up with truly authentic tacos from numerous authentic stands. It also helped that they passed my no-gristle test.

IMGP0029

I even squeeze some of the leftover lime juice into my Mountain Dew Baja Blast (when I go inside a Taco Bell I like to make a concoction that is roughly three parts Mirinda brand strawberry soda and one part Baja Blast). And here's the first picture I've taken with my brand new camera set to "Food" mode, with a chicken and a steak "authentic taco" and one of the new 89¢ grilled chicken burritos:

IMGP0031

Am hoping that my new camera will be taking better dim light photos than my prior camera did.

And, this Tustin location still has the Fiesta Family Meal:

IMGP0026

And they also still have the Munchitos that I mentioned quite a while back:

IMGP0028

If you're looking for "Test Bells" that have items not on regular Taco Bell menus the four I know of are this one in Irvine, this one in Tustin, this one in Santa Ana, and this one in Lake Forest.

Also, most Taco Bells seem to now have the new Piña Colada and Strawberry Colada Frutista Freeze beverages:


Oh, and limeade and cherry limeade Frutista drinks and three kinds of double chicken burritos:

IMGP0195

UPDATE: The limeades are now 99¢ for a medium and $1.29 for a large, marked down drastically from the prices shown in the photo above.

UPDATE (July 28, 2009): It appears that the "Authentic Tacos" are now called "Cantina Grill Cantina Tacos" and have, like the limeade, been drastically reduced in price from $1.89 to $1.29:

IMGP0584


UPDATE (July 29, 2010): The Taco Bell at Red Hill and the 5 now has Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas Tacos:

IMG00076-20100729-1911


IMG00077-20100729-1923


CLICK HERE for our complete and extensive Taco Bell coverage but also be aware that we have covered many other places at this blog . . . "from taco trucks to upscale dining . . . and everything in between."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

El Farolito - Review #3 (Mostly Photos)

El Farolito Jr.
1339 N East St
Anaheim, CA 92805
(714) 533-6032

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Listing on Ask.com's Citysearch

No known official website
Yahoo! Maps
Enter starting address:
Address

City, State and/or Zip



I covered El Farolito Jr. before but my visit then was at night and my pictures were not up to the standard of quality I wanted them to be. Here's some photos from a recent daytime visit when I met up with my friends James and Lori, both of whom have been to both El Farolitos many times before.

(Click Here to read our complete El Farolito coverage.)

DSCF6382


DSCF6383


DSCF6385


DSCF6387


DSCF6389


DSCF6390


DSCF6391


DSCF6392


DSCF6394


DSCF6395

From about 6pm till closing (and they typically stay open until midnight) El Farolito Jr. does a taco night thing where you can load up on tacos for $1.50 each and then go and put whatever toppings you want to on them. I was told that sometimes they sell up to 2,000 tacos in a night. The following are some pictures of the taco stations that had just been prepped for hungry customers:

DSCF6397


DSCF6398


DSCF6399

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

El Adobe de Capistrano - Review #1

Date of Visit: February 21, 2009
El Adobe de Capistrano
31891 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 493-1163

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Listing on Ask.com's Citysearch

Official Site
Yahoo! Maps
Enter starting address:
Address

City, State and/or Zip


DSCF6223

When I have a huge backlog to get through my entries tend to get less wordy but I try to make up for it with more pictures. Met up at El Adobe de Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano recently for dinner with my cousin Scott and his wife Stacy and their new kid. Scott had been wanting to go for a while.

DSCF6217

I should mention that people often search for information on where President Richard Nixon ate Mexican food at in Orange County. Well, it's not just one place. I have already covered three places that he ate at (use the search box at the top of the blog and search on "Nixon" to find them; if I mention them by name here in this entry it gets search engines all confused) but El Adobe is actually the restaurant where he influenced the menu.

DSCF6218

According to a recent issue of Orange Coast Magazine this old, old jail opened in 1948 as El Adobe restaurant, which, strangely enough, didn't serve Mexican food. I guess the Mexican food craze hadn't caught on yet but Richard Nixon went in the early 70's and asked the head chef to make him some Mexican food then convinced the owners to convert the whole restaurant into a Mexican one. Maybe the time was ripe for a restaurant with a Mexican name and a Mexican chef to start serving Mexican food because they took the former president's suggestion and have been serving Mexican food ever since.

DSCF6221

Not only are they now a Mexican restaurant but they are also an official Historical Landmark:

DSCF6222

And an official historical site:

DSCF6226

You see, this building, which used to be two buildings, was built way back in 1840 and served as a stage depot, a courtroom and a jail (update: I think actually one building was built in 1778 and the other in 1812 and they were joined in 1840). When you enjoy a meal here try to figure out what part you are sitting in. I believe you can even request to be seated in an old jail cell.

DSCF6227


DSCF6229


DSCF6233

The food, well, the food is like all the Mexican food from sit-down restaurants that opened up in California in the 1970's. That's not to say it's bad but if you've tried it at one place you've tried it at every place. You start off with chips and salsa and most entrees come with Spanish rice, refried beans with a little melted cheese on top, and some form of meat in some form of tortilla. That's not to say the menu's never undergone any modernization but when you come to a place like this you're really intending to step back in time.

DSCF6232

Stacy loved her Marinated Grilled Shrimp Salad, "large grilled shrimp over mixed greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette, garnished with tomato." And I loved the one shrimp I got to try from it.

DSCF6236

Scott, feeling presidential, ordered the "Presidents Choice" combo, concocted by Nixon himself and composed of a chile relleno, a chicken enchilada, and a taco.

DSCF6237

I pulled my huevos-rancheros-for-dinner trick again. Again, very standard with two fried eggs over a corn tortilla, and topped with ranchero sauce, and rice and beans on the side. Not much to rave or complain about.

DSCF6238

Come for the historical aspect and have some food while you're at it. They say that this region is one of the oldest inhabited areas in California. When you're done eating perhaps you can go ghost hunting.

Click here to see the complete album (25 photos) at .