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 TuesdayDisneylandMenudo

Friday, April 27, 2007

Cinco de Mayo 2007

UPDATE: CLICK →HERE← for Cinco de Mayo 2009 Info

(The entry you are looking at now is OUTDATED! Click the link above to be taken to UPDATED info.)

I am going to do something different and take suggestions on where I should eat for Cinco de Mayo this year . . . and it could be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you know of a place that will have a special menu that day or perhaps special entertainment please leave a comment here.

(The entry you are looking at now is OUTDATED! Click the link at the top of this entry to be taken to UPDATED info. My site traffic tells me that in May 2009 Google is for some stupid reason [bad Google!] sending people to this 2007 entry. Well, I have an entry for this year but apparently nobody is clicking through to it so I am trying to figure out how to make the link to the UPDATED info more obvious.)

I will list here any Cinco de Mayo specials that I know of:
  • Avila's El Ranchito in Lake Forest
  • Kantina - Food, music, and cocktails beginning at 11am
  • Taleo - "We're celebrating Cinco de Mayo all weekend! Margarita specials, Complimentary Bar appetizers, Sunday Brunch, and Chef Jose's wonderful Tamale Dulces! See your server for details. Hope to see you see soon, Nic."

(The entry you are looking at now is OUTDATED! Click the link at the top of this entry to be taken to UPDATED info.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

El Maguey - Review #1

Date of Visit: April 16, 2007
El Maguey
31481 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 493-8681

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Listing on's Citysearch

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

City, State and/or Zip

El Maguey -

El Maguey -

Checking in with his second guest review is Matt Moore, a former co-worker of mine, trekking down from North OC to the southern end and giving us the full scoop on one of his recent Mexican dining experiences down there:

Being a northern Orange County resident, I typically don’t get much further south than my office in Irvine. But last weekend, a friend and I wanted to see the mission at San Juan Capistrano, and having heard that SJC has some amazing Mexican food, we hit the road with our stomachs on empty. I have to confess my lack of reviews here is because I usually take the recommendations here and not give them! But this time I decided to break convention and take a chance on a new eatery. The place was El Maguey, which lies across the road from the basilica at the mission. The signage outside the restaurant told us that this place is good and they know it. Fortunately there was no wait, we were coming in for a late lunch, and we were seated quickly. For appetizers they had thick yellow corn chips and a bowl of fairly spicy salsa. The salsa was the perfect level of spicyness for my tastes but my friend said it was a bit spicy for her.

El Maguey -

The menu is full of authentic plates such as chile Colorado, chile rellanoes, and mole enchiladas. One dish caught my eye though: Carne al Pastor. I haven't found many places in Orange County with al Pastor, but my recent trip to Mexico had me eating and falling in love with it, so I jumped at the chance. The carne came topped with grilled onions, side of rice, beans, and a dollop of guac. It was good. Real good. The thinly sliced pork filets were moist and had layers of delicious flavor. The grilled onions added that sweet taste that only onions seem to be able to do. My friend tried my dish and as a self-proclaimed rice-snob, she said the rice was among the best Mexican rice she’s ever had.

El Maguey -

For her dish, she had a torta filled with egg, chorizo, and avocados. She reported nothing but good things and after I took my own bite of it, I was convinced the chefs at El Maguey could do no wrong.

El Maguey -

Needless to say, I was happy I gambled on that Saturday afternoon and found a real gem. It'll be hard to pass on El Maguey the next time I'm in the area. The only thing that keeps me from giving 5 Gonzaleses is the dining area could have been a little nicer. But, overall it was a fantastic experience.

4.5 out 5 Speedy Gonzaleses:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

El Maguey -

El Maguey -

El Maguey -

El Maguey -

Thanks, Matt!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

14th Annual Wild and Crazy Taco Night

Here's some pictures from last Thursday's Wild and Crazy Taco Night put on by Share Our Selves, a charity event held to raise funds for homeless and needy citizens of the county:

Crazy Taco Night -

Beef Shank Green Chile Sope and Brazilian Bacon Flautas from The Golden Truffle:

Crazy Taco Night -

Crazy Taco Night -

Crazy Taco Night -

Crazy Taco Night -

Crazy Taco Night -

Crazy Taco Night -

Crazy Taco Night - Mariachis

View Complete Photo Album

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Del Taco Orange Shake

This has little to do with Mexican food but I've noticed people searching recently for information on Del Taco's Orange & Cream shake. I thought it was a random spike of Del Taco fanatics waxing nostalgic for the days when this item was offered but I just barely found out that Del Taco has brought it back. Going to have to get me one soon.

Del Taco Orange & Cream Shake Official Page

Del Taco Orange Shake

It always makes my day when a Mexican fast food chain brings back a favorite drink of mine. I'm still waiting for a couple other chains to bring back drinks I used to order often.

Del Taco is also promoting their new Savory Shredded Beef items (burritos, tacos del carbon, breakfast burritos) and offering coupons on their front page.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gabbi's New Desserts

Met up last Saturday with the food blogger known as "Wandering Chopsticks" who had told me at a prior blogger meetup that she loves Mexican food but that her friends and family rarely will agree to go eat Mexican food with her. I asked if she'd like to join me at Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen and she agreed since it was high on her "To Try" list so we met for her first visit to Gabbi's and probably at least my dozenth visit.

Gabbi's - Bread Pudding

"Wandering Chopsticks" did a full writeup here, but since Gabbi's had two new dessert items I am featuring those here. The first is the bread pudding, or "Capirotada," shown above, Gabbi's "version of Mexican bread pudding served with creme anglaíse and cajeta (caramel sauce)." This actually comes in two separate chunks (loaves?), so it is very easy to split two ways, each one with its own little indentation at the top for the creme anglaíse to be poured into. Very efficient!
Gabbi's - Vanilla Flan Gabbi's - Banana Flan Gabbi's - Chocolate Flan

When I first started visiting Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen almost a year ago I noticed that their catering menu mentioned that they serve chocolate flan but that their restaurant didn't. I would often mention to Gabbi and her husband Ed that I was looking forward to trying the chocolate flan and they would always tell me that it would eventually be on the menu and now that time has arrived. It is now served as part of a Flan Trio partnered with a vanilla flan and a banana flan. The chocolate flan tasted very truffly so if you like chocolate truffles and you like flan then be sure to try this out.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Taco Rosa - Review #10 (Breakfast)

Date of Visits: April 9 and 12, 2007
Taco Rosa #2
On the Irvine side of
The Tustin Marketplace
13792 Jamboree Rd, Suite 42
Irvine, CA 92602
(714) 505-6080
Yahoo! Maps
Enter starting address:

City, State and/or Zip


In analyzing the site traffic here I've noticed that people often search on the following names of non-existent restaurants in Irvine, Tustin, or Newport Beach:

  • Casa Rosa
  • Taco de la Rosa
  • Tia Rosa
  • Rosa's Tacos
  • Rose's Tacos
  • Choco Rosa
  • La Rosa
  • Tacco de Rossa
  • Zona Rosa
  • Taco Rose
  • Tacos Rosas
  • Taco Rosie
So, if you are searching for any of these, especially if you are trying to find them in Irvine, Tustin, or Newport Beach, it is probably "Taco Rosa" that you are looking for, and if that is the case you have come to the right place. Just be aware that what you are reading now is only one of our reviews on Taco Rosa. After you finish it you will want to click HERE or on the "taco rosa" label at the bottom to see all our extensive coverage and dozens of photos of Taco Rosa and their food.

Breakfast served daily from 8 - 11am

Menu Selections on Visit #1:
Free Appetizer: Churrito
Entree: Machaca Platter
Drink: Fresh grape juice
Menu Selections on Visit #2:
Free Appetizer: Churrito
Appetizer: Papaya Tropical
Entree: Pancakes de Chocolate
Drink: Fresh grape juice

Taco Rosa - Exterior

Okay, here's some more coverage of my favorite Mexican restaurant: Taco Rosa's second location which is so new their official site doesn't even mention it (yet) and no online directory services list them (yet). I've already been about six times since they officially opened and they seem a little busier each time . . . which is why I try to go at off-hours, say 1:30pm for a late lunch or 4:30pm for an early dinner (not both on the same day though). Some of the staff gained experience at the original Taco Rosa location in Newport Beach but there are some greenies here who are still learning the ropes. I'm mentioning this because I've seen some rumblings elsewhere on the web complaining about the service and I'm saying, "Give them a chance." It's a brand new place and I've been possibly more than any other single person and have had only minor problems and everyone was always willing to do what they could to make things right. Having worked a few years in food service and dealing with many rude customers I try to be as forgiving as possible with people serving me food now, especially when I see they are genuinely trying.

Taco Rosa -

I have also learned from my experience with this blog that new restaurants generally like to have a six month breaking-in period before advertising themselves far and wide, so keep in mind that all my Taco Rosa #2 trumpeting here may be a little premature. Having said all that, odds are still in your favor of having a very worthwhile experience.

Taco Rosa #2 - Interior

So, what more is there for me to cover about Taco Rosa? Well, this second location is now serving breakfast every day of the week. Their breakfast menu appears to be drawing from both the Taco Mesa breakfast menu and items from the Sunday Brunch at their original location (see end of this entry for a complete list of their breakfast entrees) with a few items never seen before.

Taco Rosa - Roses
This location has actual roses on the table

I was wondering if they would offer a breakfast version of their complimentary botanitas and we're all in luck because they do. After being seated you are brought a little churro (I'm not sure if I'm coining a Spanish word here or not but I'm going to call it a "churrito") with a cup of chocolate to dip it into. This is like getting dessert before your meal. The chocolate comes from their ever-blending chocolate fountain.

Taco Rosa - Churrito

They have twelve breakfast entrees to choose from and I bypassed my usual temptation to get huevos rancheros for breakfast and went instead for the machaca con huevos platter:

Taco Rosa - Machaca Platter

This dish, according to the menu, is comprised of, "Slowly dried shredded beef seasoned with pepper, onion, and tomato, [and] grilled with scrambled eggs. Served with pinto beans de la olla and hand-pressed corn tortillas." You also get some fresh fruit that the menu doesn't mention. So you already have your first of five servings of fruit you're supposed to have everyday. If you want another serving of fruit you can order the Papaya Tropical with lime as a side:

Taco Rosa - Papaya Tropical

On those days when the little kid in you comes out the "Pancakes de Chocolate" hit the spot:

Taco Rosa - Pancakes de Chocolate

All the breakfast entrees are reasonably priced. The most expensive one is $8.99. And they now have their excellent fresh squeezed grape juice (as well as apple, orange, carrot, and pineapple juices) every day.

And what rating do I give Taco Rosa now? What else? Five Speedy Gonzaleses:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Breakfast Entrees:

  • Huevos Al Gusto
  • Chilaquiles Zona Rosa
  • Burrito a la Mexicana
  • Burrito Toluca
  • Huevos Rancheros
  • Buenos Dias Quesadilla
  • Machaca con Huevos
  • Steak and Eggs
  • Omelette de Mariscos
  • Pancakes de Chocolate
Read ElmoMonster's Review

UPDATE (August 7, 2007): Here's the Chilaquiles Zona Rosa I ordered on a recent visit:

Taco Rosa - Chilaquiles Zona Rosa

This is made up of "Crispy tortilla strips sauteed with our Zona Rosa sauce, dressed with crema and queso fresco, cilantro and onion. Served with pinto beans and fresh fruit." I added chicken breast for an extra $2.00.

If you just finished reading only "Taco Rosa - Review #10 (Breakfast)" then you will want to click HERE or on the "taco rosa" label below to see our complete coverage (including dozens of photos) of both current Taco Rosa locations:

Laguna Javier's Closed?

I have heard a rumor that the Javier's in Laguna Beach has been closed down. Can anybody confirm or deny this information? I know they were set to close later this year in the summer or fall when they moved to Crystal Cove but apparently they have been shut down even earlier than expected.

IMPORTANT UPDATE (February 11, 2008):

CLICK HERE to read ALL our extensive Javier's Cantina coverage including information on their old location, their location that has just opened, their location that is about to open, and their location at a Mexican resort (includes a couple dozen photos).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The State of the Blog

Just thought I'd clarify what's going on here at the blog for the month of April. I am trying to take a one-month break from actively seeking out new restaurants to review but there's definitely still going to be posts here. Some will be reviews I've had sitting around in draft form for a while, some will be guest reviews (at least one is almost ready to post), one will be an entry about the new breakfast menu at a restaurant I pitch here all the time, etc. Plus I'll be going through some of the old entries and fixing things up . . . mostly stuff that most readers won't notice but I want this blog in tip top shape. Yesterday it burst the 300-visits-in-one-day mark for the first time.

The Future

This little hobby has kept me plenty busy and it's time for a little breather and time to re-visit some of the places I've reviewed before that aren't on my normal circuit. Once the break's over I'll be hitting the ground running again since I have already arranged with somebody to meet them near the end of April at a Mexican restaurant I haven't been to yet but which they recommended to me back in July. It's been an adventure so far, and with approximately 100 restaurants covered so far and approximately 250 more to go (with new ones opening all the time) I'm sure it'll continue to be an eye-opening adventure. Thank you to all the loyal readers.

I'm also going to try to get to as much of the Newport Beach Film Festival as I can:

Taleo - New Menu Items

Taleo - Logo

Taleo - Interior

Here we are highlighting some of the new menu items available now on Taleo Mexican Grill's dinner menu and sometimes also available at lunch. Always ask your server what special items are available during your visit.

Shrimp Cocktail

Taleo - Shrimp Cocktail

"Sweet jumbo Gulf shrimp tossed in a traditional cocktail sauce with a horseradish kick and diced avocadoes."

Bacon-wrapped Scallops

Taleo - Bacon-wrapped Scallops

"Pan-seared, bacon-wrapped jumbo sea scallops set in a mellow chipotle-peppercorn sauce, served with pureé de papas and calabacitas."

Crab Cakes

Taleo - Crab Cakes

"Golden, crispy pan-seared Maryland lump crab cakes with a light vanilla-mango sauce."

Yucatan-style Halibut

Taleo - Halibut

"Halibut filleted in-house, grilled and served on macadamia nut vanilla-mango sauce. Served with Grandma Simona's warm rice salad and asparagus."

Barbacoa Cozumel

Taleo - Barbacoa Cozumel

"Boneless beef short ribs wrapped in banana leaves, baked in an ancho chile sauce with carrots, tri-colored peppers, potatoes and onions. Served with Mexican rice."

It's not a new item but Taleo's flan makes an excellent dessert choice after your meal:

Taleo - Flan
Taleo's Flan

We are pleased to offer a coupon in conjunction with Taleo Mexican Grill in Irvine good for a complimentary appetizer or dessert item of your choice.

Click on the "taleo" label below to read all our coverage of Taleo Mexican Grill, including the especially big "Deluxe Review" with extensive photos and food descriptions:

Taleo's Official Website