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Monday, July 31, 2006

La Provincia - Review #1

Date of Visit: July 25, 2006

137 W First St Suite A
Tustin, CA 92780

No known official website.

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Appetizer: Chips and Salsa
Entree: Camarones Rancheros
Drink: Horchata Ole
Dessert: Strawberry Cheesecake

La Provincia Exterior

Continuing on my earnest attempt to make it to restaurants that this blog's faithful readers have recommended to me I made it out Tuesday night to La Provincia in Tustin, recommended by Chaz L.

La Provincia Exterior

La Provincia is a nice little take out place in Tustin (just north of Old Towne Tustin). The address given for them here is correct and, as of this writing, their address is not correct in any online listing, such as Yahoo! Local,'s CitySearch or Google Maps. They have been in their current location for four months. The menu was formulated by owner Alfonso Oregon who (as I was told by his brother) has had twenty years of experience as a chef in Italy. The menu is fairly traditional with a heavy focus on seafood and just a slight nuevo Mex spin. I went the seafood route by ordering some camarones rancheros, which came nicely presented and, oddly enough, with steamed rice rather than Spanish or Mexican rice.

La Provincia Exterior

They were out of flan and arroz con leche, so I got their other dessert: strawberry cheesecake. I doubt it was made on the premises and it's not very Mexican but I'm not complaining.

La Provincia Exterior

Since I got there when they were about to close one of the employees was sweeping up and mopping nearby while I ate. When I finished he said, "I could tell by the way you were eating that you were either really hungry or you really liked the food." I guess the answer is a little of Column A and a little of Column B. La Provincia earns a four Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

UPDATE (August 10, 2006): Tenny Tatusian has written about La Provincia on her OC Register Food Frenzy blog.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nancy Puebla - Review #2

Date of Visit: July 20, 2006

1221 E 1st St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Listing on's Citysearch

No known official website.

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Appetizer: Chips, Beans and Mole
Entree: Gordonices con Salsa Verde
Drink: Cantaloupe aguas frescas

Nancy Puebla's Restaurant Exterior
The view from outside

The Real OC

The last time I went to Nancy Puebla's I met up with Omar from SqueezeOC. This time I met up with him again plus Gustavo Arellano from the OC Weekly. I suppose any future visits will have to be us three plus people from the Register, then Orange Coast magazine, OC Metro, cast and crew from The OC, cast and crew from The Real OC, the brand new OC Post, and maybe some other Orange County-based bloggers, etc. And Mark Maguire can come too if he wants.

Omar has already done quite the writeup of our lunch at his OC in the OC blog. We found out that this particular restaurant has outlasted prior restaurants in the same spot by far. The fact that they make their own cheese might help. Make sure you brush up on your "restaurant Spanish" before you go.

Nancy Puebla's Restaurant
The owner, Severiano, holding a picture from a Latino Health Access event at which he provided the aguas frescas.


What kind of blogger (coughcoughhackhack . . . I hate that term) would I be without mentioning YouTube at some point in time? Gustavo can be seen here in a hilarious segment on Stephen Colbert's The Colbert Report on Comedy Central.

Nancy Puebla's Restaurant
Garlic Shrimp

Nancy Puebla's Restaurant
Gordonices (Cornish game hen)

Since I had the quail (guilotas) last time I tried the Cornish game hen this time, on Gustavo's recommendation. Good stuff; smoky flavored and drowning in salsa verde, crunchy in just the right spots and tender in the rest. I had a cantaloupe aguas frescas this time but hope to make it back and try their strawberry/watermelon aguas frescas sometime. Then kiwi.

Nancy Puebla's Restaurant
L to R: Omar, Gustavo, and Christian

It got three and a half last time and now I'm upgrading Nancy Puebla to a four Speedy Gonzales rating:

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Other Nancy Puebla entries:

Friday, July 21, 2006

Taco Mesa-Taco Rosa News

Click HERE to read ALL our extensive coverage of Taco Rosa. Includes extensive photography. This is the link to follow if you want to see tons of pictures of Taco Rosa's food. Also includes links to their official site, addresses for both their locations and more. If you are just looking at "Taco Mesa/Taco Rosa News" then you are not getting the big picture on Taco Rosa.

Originally posted July 18, 2006

The Orange County Register has an article today in their Marketplace section about a second Taco Rosa opening soon (it'll be easier for me to get to at lunch) and some additions to the Taco Mesa menu. I'm not going to tell you all the details so go and read it. The print edition mentions that there will be more on this story in Friday's paper.

For the first time ever I saw a Taco Mesa coupon in the mail yesterday. Looks like there's some good deals on it so if you missed it yesterday there is a good chance it'll be in next month's coupon mailer.

UPDATE (July 21, 2006):

Today's new Orange County Register article on the Taco Mesa/Taco Rosa chain, which explains their expansion plans and why chicharrones are not on the menu, can be read here.

We have a ton of coverage of each Taco Mesa and Taco Rosa (including almost a hundred photos) which can be seen by clicking on either of their labels below:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen - Review #1

(This is only our initial review on Gabbi's. Since this first visit I have covered them many more times . . . and with better photographs. You can choose to read only this review but, if so, you will only be getting a small amount of the information we have on this great restaurant, the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.)

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
(They don't have an official sign out front yet but they're working on it . . . or they may never have one.)

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Interior

I've been e-mailed several recommendations lately of Mexican restaurants to try out. I intend to get to every one of them in whatever order time and circumstance will allow. Of the most recent batch of recommendations Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen was the restaurant I was able to make it to first. Thank you to "El Serracho" for the recommendation.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior

Gabbi's is brand-spankin' new, meaning it opened just over a week ago on July 11. Gabbi is the owner and this is her first restaurant after having managed two of her parents' restaurants before and starting up her own catering service. Her new restaurant's menu was influenced by her upbringing and extensive travels throughout Mexico searching out culinary inspiration from the various states.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
Open Air Seating

The building the restaurant is in is part of Historic Old Towne Orange and features some wonderful open air seating. If you happen to come up on it while walking down the street you'll feel pulled in by the warm and inviting atmosphere. There are a couple tables right out on the sidewalk. The menu can be described as "nuevo Mex" with plenty of soups, salads, appetizers, and entrees to choose from. Our party shared a tropical quesadilla as an appetizer; it was filled with cheese, pineapple, mango, and plantains, and was well liked by everyone. For entrees we ordered a chile relleno, a zucchini enchilada, a Tacos Dorado plate, and the carnitas platter. My friend and his wife took advantage of the childrens menu when ordering for their son. They also have horchata and tamarind aguas frescas.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Quesadilla Tropicale
Quesadilla Tropicale

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Enchilada Flor de Calabaza
Enchilada Flor de Calabaza

Their chile rellenos have different stuffings each day. My friend's mother ordered one stuffed with chicken and cheese:

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
Chile relleno

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
Carnitas platter

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Exterior
Tacos Dorado

Desserts for now include an ice cream-topped brownie that I believe they call a "Chilly Brownie" (I could be wrong on that though) and flan topped with raspberry puree. They are working on developing a more complete dessert menu which will also include the chocolate flan currently only available through Gabbi's catering service. Looking forward to trying that. When you go you are likely to see Gabbi and her husband Ed out and about mingling amongst the customers making sure that everyone's needs and wants are tended to. Let them know you found out about them from the OC Mexican Restaurant blog.

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Brownie
Ice Cream Brownie

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Flan

I'm definitely going back to sample some more menu items and take some more photos but I think Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen will be only the second restaurant reviewed here to earn a five Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

This is only our initial review on Gabbi's. Since this first visit I have covered them many more times . . . and with better photographs. You can choose to read only this review but, if so, you will only be getting a small amount of the information we have on this great restaurant.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Cocina Cucamonga - Review #1

(Click here for an update on the new Cocina Cucamonga.)

Date of Visit: July 7, 2006

Cocina Cucamonga
@ Disney's California Adventure
1600 S Disneyland Dr
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 781-4565

Official Site

Cocina Cucamonga

While on a recent trip to Disneyland I hoped to make it to the Mexican restaurant in Disneyland itself or to the one in Downtown Disney but it wasn't until I was there that day that I found out that there is also a Mexican restaurant in Disney's California Adventure and that is the one I ended up at (I'll still get to the other two eventually).

Cocina Cucamonga
Menu Board

Cocina Cucamonga is next door to and uses tortillas from the Mission Tortilla Factory where you can watch tortillas being made. Their menu focuses on tacos and, while it doesn't explicitly state such, each platter comes with two tacos and you can mix and match what kinds you get. I ordered the steak taco platter and switched one of them to be a fish taco. The steak taco was average; couldn't complain about it but it didn't inspire. Same with the chips and the beans. However, the fish taco was surprisingly fresh with a hot, crispy, battered fish fillet and tangy chipotle chili sauce, cabbage and a lime wedge. I'm glad I saved it to eat last.

Cocina Cucamonga
Taco Platter and Dessert

I rounded out my meal with a little carton of Minute Maid apple juice and some Cinnamon Rice Pudding. I used Disney Dollars to pay for my meal, little known currency that can be used at just about any official Disney location in the country.

Cocina Cucamonga

After I ate my own meal another person in our party went and bought some nachos and brought them back to our bench where we were waiting for the Electrical Parade to begin.

For being slightly more authentic than I expected Cocina Cucamonga earns a three and a half Speedy Gonzales rating:

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UPDATE: Here's some pictures from when I went there for lunch on February 11, 2009, and got the Veggie Tacos:




(Click here for an update on the new Cocina Cucamonga.)