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SPECIAL TOPICS: Taco TuesdayDisneylandMenudoMexican Flavors on the High Seas

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chipotle Opening in Newport Beach


Click for bigger image.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Roundup #21

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 250, so just keep scrolling down.

Mexican restaurants I've reviewed before that I've visited since the last roundup entry for non-review purposes include: Rubio's, Del Taco, Amorelia Mexican Cafe, Tacos el Chavito, Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen, The Chili Pepper, La Salsa, El Fortin (Stanton), Rancho del Zocalo, Alebrijes, El Pollo Loco, Taco Rosa, Las Fajitas, Matador Cantina, Soho Taco, Sol Cocina, Olamendi's Deli (formerly Olamendi's Pop's Tacos & Sandwiches), Gammy's Cafe, Azteca's, Sharky's, Tacos & Co., Baja Fish Tacos, Cafe Maiz, Tortilla Jo's, On the Border, Taleo, Taco Mesa, Tacos Jerez, Chronic Tacos, Cancun Fresh, Fresca's Mexican Grill, Taco Adobe, El Mejor Taco, and El Gallo Giro.

Non-Mexican restaurants that I've visited since the last roundup entry include: Market Broiler, Da Luau, Bread Crumb 'Ohana Cafe, Athens West, King's Hawaiian, Deli-licious, Funashin, Silky Sullivan's, Cafe Grill, In-N-Out, The Counter Burger, Sandy's Beach Grill, Break of Dawn, Jerry's Woodfired Dogs, Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ, Clearman's Steak 'N Stein, Gyro King, Prego Ristorante, Mrs. Knott's Chicken-To-Go, Mugen Japanese Cuisine, 50 Forks, Lucci's, Lee's Sandwiches, Fatburger, Mad Greek, Daily Grill, Nalu's Island Grill, Rumbi Island Grill, India Palace, and Eat Chow.

Barret-Jackson Car Show Promo at Mi Casa



Show your ticket stub to the car show at Mi Casa in Costa Mesa and get 25% OFF your total bill!! Click the image to see a much bigger one with all the details. Goes from June 4th to 26th, 2011.

Del Taco Ultimate Grilled Chicken Burrito

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Fans of Del Taco’s fresh-cooked, grilled marinated chicken will find a special treat – times 8 -- in the new Ultimate Grilled Chicken Burrito, which makes its debut this week.

Ingredients include grilled chicken that has been marinated in a special recipe of spices and seasonings, zesty red sauce, seasoned rice, crisp lettuce, freshly grated cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, cool sour cream and tangy guacamole all wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.

“Our grilled marinated chicken has been a fan favorite for a long time because it's cooked fresh in our kitchens,” said John Cappasola, Del Taco’s Chief Brand Officer. “This freshness, of course, means better quality and lots more flavor. Now, in the new Ultimate Grilled Chicken Burrito, we’ve packed the best of Del Taco into one menu item.”

The Ultimate Grilled Chicken Burrito is offered at $2.99 and a meal for $5.79 that includes a small drink and crinkle-cut fries. With a spotlight on its grilled marinated chicken, Del Taco is also offering 2 for $5 Del Classic Chicken Burritos and 5 Chicken Soft Tacos for $4.95.

Jarritos


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Faithful readers of the blog know that I mention Jarritos every once in a while. I've long been a fan of them and last year they wrote me asking if I wanted some samples sent. I told them that I already liked them but to go ahead and send the samples because I was pretty sure I hadn't tried all their flavors yet. Most places just have 2 or 3 of the eleven flavors then available. So I got the package (seen above with the cool t-shirt) and it had the following flavors in it:
  1. Mandarin
  2. Fruit Punch
  3. Lime
  4. Jamaica
  5. Mango
  6. Strawberry
  7. Pineapple
  8. Tamarind
  9. Guava
  10. Grapefruit
  11. Tutti Frutti (I think this flavor my have been dropped - too similar to Fruit Punch?)

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Now they have come out with a new flavor, Mexican Cola, which, like their other flavors, is sweetened with natural sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Before my samples of Mexican Cola arrived I asked a a couple taquerias and taco trucks in the area if they had seen the new flavor and some of them said that they had already been selling it but that it kept selling out. The wide variety of Jarritos flavor makes a welcome break from the typical "Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite" choice you get at most places.

Follow Jarritos on Facebook (has apps, contests, etc.) or Twitter.

Other Mexican Food Articles

While this blog is the only one I know of that is specifically dedicated to Mexican food in Orange County it's certainly not the only press outlet that ever mentions it. I hope to link to even more things in the future but for now here's a couple links to to other recent articles about Mexican food in the county:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Angels Viewing Party at Mi Casa

Catch this one before it goes away. Just wear Angels Red to Mi Casa in Costa Mesa tonight and receive a pair of tickets to the June 29th Angels game. (While supplies last.)


Click the image for a much bigger version which gives all the details.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Taqueria Zamora

Taqueria Zamora
3121 S Main St
Santa Ana, CA 92707
(714) 557-0907

Listing on Local.com

Listing on Urbanspoon

Official Site
Yahoo! Maps

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City, State and/or Zip



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If you look up at the top of this blog it says that the number of restaurants reviewed so far at this blog is 262. That number is only going to go up. Some of those reviews are guest reviews of places I haven't personally been to yet but most of them are ones I wrote. How many have of those have I been to? I'd say a good guess is 230. Plus there's all the ones I'd been to in the county before starting this blog that haven't been written up yet and a small handful that I've been to since starting this blog where I just wasn't in the mode for doing a review. If you take all those places and rule out half or three-quarters of them or maybe even more than that as too Americanized I still think I've been to some pretty darn Mexican places. I mean places where only Spanish is spoken, where they laugh at you for ordering a burrito (even when you actually said "Jarritos"), where at least one kind of meat is served that gives gabachos second thoughts about eating there. So, yes, I think I've had a pretty good breadth of experience, notwithstanding the fact that my quest is still under way and there's still untamed horizons out there.

So imagine my surprise when Gustavo Arellano recently mentioned at the OC Weekly that the two most Mexican restaurants in Orange County were Taqueria Zamora and La Raza, two spots I had never been to. I had to get to one of them and soon and find out what was so Mexican about them.

A week or so later I made it to Taqueria Zamora on Main St. in Santa Ana. When I pulled in the parking was so crowded that I figured I'd have to come back another day but I waited a little bit and somebody finally pulled their car out from a spot right in front of the restaurant.

I walked in only to find that it's like many other Mexican restaurants I've been to, same kind of menu, same kind of clientele, same kind of interior with the Budweiser sign on the wall, pictures of youth soccer teams, etc. I tried to hard to find something that made it even more Mexican than "already very Mexican" and was hard pressed to do so until . . . until the mariachis came. One by one they filed in. But they didn't necessarily play to the crowd. They went over to one guy's table, played two songs for him . . . and left. And I thought, "Maybe that's what makes this one of the most Mexican places round."

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In addition to starting you out with free chips and salsa you also get a little plate of beans with some cotija cheese sprinkled on top:

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When I ordered I asked for a bowl of pozole and a birria taco. Somehow it came back as two tacos, one birria and one something else, possibly lengua. The tortillas are so large and they give you such a mound of meat on each that I decided to save the pozole for my next visit. Both meats were very moist and tender with flavors rounded out by onions and cilantro (lots of cilantro), radish and limes. The photo doesn't quite convey that these were BIG tacos:

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When I made it back a few days later to claim my bowl of pozole I grabbed a Sidral Mundet apple soda from their fridge and took it to my table before ordering. The next thing I know a guy with a bottle opener came right over and popped the lid off the bottle for me without me even asking for help. This was an employee taking a break at a nearby table and he saw the need and he addressed it. Now that's what I call service.

The pozole was very standard, not bad but not at the level of some others I've had. It had chunks of bone in it that were easy to pick out and for some reason they served shredded lettuce on the side with it rather than cabbage. Maybe I caught them at a cabbage-less moment?

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On the third visit I found the front dining area full so I went into the back dining area for the first time. On my prior two visits I had peeked into the back dining area and saw it full and festive each time. This time it was empty and cavernous and lonely but there was nowhere else to sit so in I went. But before my food was ready a table up front opened up and one of the employees found me and asked if I wanted to take it. They are anticipating my needs without me even expressing my needs. Now that's what I call service.

I tried the chilaquiles that Gustavo had called the second-best chilaquiles in the county. With so many choices second-best still isn't bad. Next time I'll get it without the steak, which was unfortunately too tough. But there was nice fluffy rice and eggs and chips that soaked up all their spicy, spicy sauce until they maybe weren't even chips anymore but triangular pieces of hot sauce. And I also got a salsa verde this time that I hope they bottle because it had possibly the most full-bodied and satisfactory flavor I've ever had in a salsa. I couldn't finish the whole chilaquiles dish there (my bad for having had more cereal beforehand at my place than I should've) so they gave me one of the typical styrofoam to-go containers but untypically included a baggie of fresh chips and a clean, plastic cup of fresh hot sauce. Now that's what I call service.

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When I saw Gustavo giving a lecture at the Fullerton Public Library later I asked him what he thought made it the most Mexican place and confirmed that even more than the food it's the service and hospitality and overall vibe there. Agreed. Forget Olive Garden; when you're at Taqueria Zamora you're family. Four Speedy Gonzaleses:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

The complete photo album (16 photos so far) can be viewed at flickr.

OC Weekly entries on Taqueria Zamora: