|Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen|
141 S Glassell St
Orange, CA 92866-1421
Listing on Yahoo! Local
Listing at The Guide
I've been working up in Torrance lately and have had very little chance to go to all the Orange County eateries I like so when I get a rare chance now there's about 200 places to pick from . . . or more, so I have to get very choosy. When one of your favorite places is always reinventing itself, adding new items, changing menu items with the seasons, and having specials that are available for one day only then they tend to keep pulling you back in. And it doesn't hurt that they are Zagat-rated and recently received the highest rating (28/30) of all the Mexican restaurants in Southern California.
Yes, I'm talking about Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen in Old Towne Orange. I arrived right as they opened at 11am on Saturday to try their Chichilo molé for the day, which was being featured as part of their Seven Moles of Oaxaca menu for the end of October and early November only to find out that the molé dishes are only being served at dinner (if you are going for one of the molé dishes and you can only go at lunch call ahead to check availability because they might be able to do some at lunch). But I was already there, hungry and ready to eat. Fortunately they had a couple things on the menu that I hadn't had there before.
Starting off with the Sopa Azteca I experienced a rich, smoky tomato soup with chunks of fresh avocado, chicken and tortilla strips, the type of dish that it's a crime to consume too quickly. In a perfect world Andy Warhol would paint this.
Then it was on to the tlacoyo de aguacate, sort of the little brother to the much larger tlayuda, one of which you could subsist upon for days. The plating for this appetizer is at once rustic and nouveau. Starting with a crisp masa base and topped with beans, avocado, apple slivers and lettuce and served with a chile arbol sauce this dish was savored in the same lingering fashion as the Sopa Azteca.
Finally I finished off with the new fall dessert, the Pumpkin bread pudding a "warm, spiced Challah bread pastry with a mezcal cajeta and a brown-butter date ice cream." Fluffy, not heavy, I was able to finish off my early lunch with a sweet treat that produced no subsequent regret. In fact, the whole meal reminded me all over again why Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen is high on my rotation list.