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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Taco Adobe - Review #1

Date of Visit: May 25, 2007
Taco Adobe #2
121 N. Lemon St.
Orange, CA 92866
(714) 628-0633

Review in OC Weekly

Review in Orange County Register's Food Frenzy Blog

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Taco Adobe - Exterior

Coming out of my one-month break from actively seeking out new Mexican restaurants to review I knew I had to pick a good place to go to get back into the swing of things. Numerous places came to mind but the matter was settled when I found out from the OC Weekly that a second Taco Adobe had recently opened near the Orange Circle (CLICK HERE for information on the more well-known Mexican restaurant in the Orange Circle). Having always intended to make it to the original one on Main St. in Santa Ana I knew it was time to finally give Taco Adobe a try. Housed between an auto repair shop on the north and a radiator shop on the south Taco Adobe #2 serves up big, bold flavors from its small and humble edifice.

Taco Adobe - Specials Board

The chips were good; almost but not quite too greasy and almost but not quite too salty. And they have several varieties of Jarritos soda to choose from so I went with the bright red strawberry flavor:

Taco Adobe - Chips, Salsa, Jarritos

Going by the OC Weekly's recommendation I decided to order from Taco Adobe's specials menu. The Quesadilla Arizona, according to the board, is, "blackened chicken breast, spinach, avocado, blend of cheese, grilled onions and tomatoes. Served with mango salsa," on a flour tortilla. This was easily the chunkiest salsa I have ever experienced and that's the way I like it. It also had papaya and red onion in it and after my quesadilla was finished off I scooped up every last bit of the salsa with some of my remaining chips. The blackened chicken was sweet and interacted well with the spinach and avocado. I also liked the fact that the quesadilla wedges were dry on the outside so that I wasn't obliged to pick up a greasy mess with my bare hands. Don't know if I've mentioned it before but quesadillas that are otherwise good but are greasy messes on the outside are a pet peeve of mine.

Taco Adobe - Quesadilla Arizona

Their flan was extra custardy and also seemed to have a more pronounced caramel flavor to it than most flans . . . and lots of powdered sugar:

Taco Adobe - Flan

If you want to make your meal a little more international Taco Adobe also has tiramisu and cheesecake for dessert.

Taco Adobe earns a four and a half Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Roundup #12

Coming out of my roughly one-month break from actively seeking out new Mexican restaurants to review. Was able to get caught up on a number of things related to the blog as well as going back to several places I've reviewed before but hadn't been back to yet. So, all the Mexican restaurants I've been to for non-review purposes since the last roundup entry include: Taco Rosa, El Pollo Loco, Carnitas la Villa, Las Fajitas, Taleo (where I've gone a few times and have been trying out some of their non-Mexican items such as their Taleo cheeseburger and their barbecue chicken sandwich), Anita's (no new review, but there are some updated pictures in the original entry), Charo Chicken, Taqueria el Granjenal, Taco Mesa, Taco Bell, the chimichanga cart at Disneyland near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (this might actually get a review later), Rubio's, La Salsa, Del Taco, Rancho del Zocalo, Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill, Taco Factory, Durango Mexican Grill, Javier's at the Irvine Spectrum, Azteca's, Jalapeno's, Super Mex, and Baja Fresh (tried their new Nacho Burrito). Also, made one trip to Gabbi's, where I got their flatiron steak and my friend got mahi mahi tacos, both special items that day:

Gabbi's - Flat Iron Steak
Gabbi's Flat Iron Steak

Gabbi's - Mahi Mahi Tacos
Gabbi's Mahi Mahi Tacos

I also made a weekend trip up to Utah where I went to Taco Time again and got pretty much the same food as I ordered the one other time I've been there and tried out Cafe Rio for the first time (might be posting pictures soon).

Non-Mexican eateries I've visited since the last roundup entry include: Daphne's Greek Cafe, Kabuki, Crepes de Paris (at the Irvine Spectrum but not even listed on the Spectrum's website), Taste of India, Green Parrot Cafe (which I wrote a review for at OC Food Blogs), Sugar Shack, Claim Jumper, Nordstrom Cafe, J&J's House of Subs, no ka oi, Royal St. Veranda, Cafe Orleans, Crab Cooker (which I also wrote a review for at OC Food Blogs), King's Hawaiian, Rumbi's Island Grill, The Cravery, Disney Soda Fountain and Studio Store, IKEA, Market Broiler, Merhaba (might be putting up some pictures from this East African restaurant at OC Food Blogs soon), Kappo Honda, Ruby's, and the DreamWorks campus cafeteria.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Today's Register

The Orange County Register today has a big article in their Food section called Pan-Latin local restaurants, which is supposed to be about how Mexican food is not the only Latin food to be found in the county but it still focuses a lot on Mexican food and has an especially big focus on Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen and Taleo Mexican Grill. Interesting that the five Mexican restaurants they mention are very close to the Top 5 most searched for Mexican restaurants at this blog.

On another note I have recently posted two articles to Orange County Food Blogs:

And on another miscellaneous note I found out last night that a famous OC food blogger is now also writing food reviews for the OC Weekly. And that's all I'm going to say . . .

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

El Farolito - Review #2

Date of Visit: May 4, 2007
El Farolito Jr.
1339 N East St
Anaheim, CA 92805
(714) 533-6032

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El Farolito Jr. - Exterior

I don't get much mail. Actually, what I should say is that this site doesn't get as much e-mail as its traffic would suggest. So when I recently got two or three requests e-mailed to me to reassess El Farolito, and I didn't get any requests to reassess any other restaurant, then I took those requests seriously. One of those people who e-mailed me told me that there is even an El Farolito Jr. so I tried that one out just to mix things up a little, knowing that the menu was likely to be the same.

El Farolito Jr. - Table Spread

When I arrived at El Farolito Jr. in Anaheim my first thought was that it couldn't be any smaller than the original one in Placentia, and maybe it was even a little bigger. It looks a little like an old Western cowboy saloon from out front. And they score some extra points for their big sign that shows they are open to midnight. That's good for people like me who often eat dinner when most restaurants are closing for the night.

One of the other e-mails to me on this subject recommended that I try El Farolito's carnitas and to ask for them "crispy." I decided that I would stick with the recommendation so I didn't even need to look at the menu but I did anyways and found lots of other items to try on future visits. I must admit that the crispy carnitas were a taste treat, not too greasy and not too fatty, tender yet crunchy in just the right way. Beans and rice and salsa were all pretty standard.

El Farolito Jr. - Crispy Carnitas

My friend James ordered the chile relleno burrito and I told him that's what I had at El Farolito in Placentia a little over a year ago and he asked, "Is there a chile stem in it?" I had to tell him the story about how mine had three stems in it. He still ordered it anyways and didn't report finding any stems. His burrito is not pictured because my experience has shown me that all burritos look pretty much the same on the outside.

I can't even remember what I gave El Farolito a year ago. I guess I must've given it a three Speedy Gonzales rating because the e-mails complained that I had rated it to low. If I had had a half Speedy image back then I would've given it a three and half Speedy rating. Now after going to El Farolito Jr. and trying their crispy carnitas I'm moving them up to a 3¾ Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

El Torito Grill - Review #4

Date of Visits: April 24 and 26, 2007
El Torito Grill
@ Fashion Island
951 Newport Center Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 640-2875

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El Torito Grill -

UPDATE: This location has closed.

I mentioned before that I was going to go to last month's Newport Beach Film Festival but what I didn't know is that every NBFF movie I would end up going to would be at the Edwards Island Theater in Fashion Island so I was near the El Torito Grill there quite often that week. So I made two visits for dinner there that week, one after getting out of seeing John Wayne's The Sands of Iwo Jima and one before catching the screening of the documentary about the Orange County painter known as "Shag."

El Torito Grill -

I was still trying to keep away from Mexican restaurants I'd never been to before but I've been to this one before without having reviewed it. And I'm always game to see what special items El Torito Grill might have so I popped in and tried out two excellent dishes from their specials menu that I've never had before: the Salmon a la Parilla and the Chocolate Crepes.

El Torito Grill -
Salmon a la Parilla

"Mesquite-grilled fresh salmon with tropical white rice, pineapple-mango salsa, jalapeƱo-butter sauce, chipotle balsamic reduction and sweet corn cake."

On my second visit I kept things pretty basic by ordering the Combo #5 with a mesquite-grilled steak taco, grilled chicken roasted corn enchilada, steak pecos chimi, and sweet corn cake:

El Torito Grill -

I got the chocolate crepes on each visit, but the picture turned out better the second time:

El Torito Grill -

"Chocolate crepes filled with sauteed plantains and dulce de leche filling. Topped with dulce de leche ice cream, chipotle chocolate and vanilla sauce, cajeta, a fresh strawberry and a dollop of fresh cream and chopped nuts."

Sure it's corporate, but it's corporate done right. El Torito Grill earns a solid four and a half Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

El Torito Grill now has its own website separate from the website for the regular El Torito chain (see top of this entry for the link). This newly redesigned website now even allows you to check what specials are available before you head over.

UPDATE: Here's additional photos from subsequent visits:

Read our other El Torito Grill entries:

Or click on the "el torito grill" label below to read our full El Torito Grill coverage:

Menu Overhaul at Baja Fresh

Getting ready to come out of my one month sabbatical from trying out new Mexican restaurants. I've got two reviews ready to post pretty soon of restaurants I've been to before but these reviews will focus on particular locations, and different menu items, that haven't been reviewed yet. After that it's time to start trying out some new places again. For now I wanted to point out an article in today's Orange County Register about the Baja Fresh chain overhauling their menu:

OC Register - Baja Fresh gets menu makeover

Saturday, May 12, 2007

My Cinco de Mayo

My Cinco de Mayo didn't turn out to be too eventful this year. I spent most of the day in Los Angeles talking with celebrities at a press junket, then got back to Orange County in time to have a nice relaxing dinner at Azteca's:

Azteca's - Albondigas Soup
Albondigas Soup

Azteca's - Chicken Mole Enchiladas
Chicken Mole Enchiladas

Azteca's - Deep-fried Ice Cream
Deep-fried Ice Cream

There was nothing I haven't had before but I love all these items. Familiarity won out this time.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mother's Day 2007 (Dia de las Madres)

Leave a comment here if you know of any Mexican restaurants in the county offering special Mother's Day deals. The only one I know about so far is at Avila's El Ranchito in Lake Forest:

Monday, May 07, 2007

Mario's Mexican Food - The UnReview

Date of Visit: December 18, 2006
Mario's Mexican Food
18603 Main St
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 842-5811

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This is without a doubt the longest lag time between me visiting a Mexican restaurant and eventually posting my review of it. I visited the Mario's in Huntington Beach last December for a Christmas get-together with a large group of people, took a number of pictures, and was hoping to make it back and get a few more pictures and post a review within a month. Well, circumstances being as they were I haven't been able to make it back there yet so I'm going to go ahead and at least post the photos I have.


Mario's is one of a small handful of places I remember going to in the mid-70's that is still around. They were recently honored as The Orange County Register's "Hidden Gem" among the county's Mexican restaurants. They are a three-store chain; all their locations are in Huntington Beach, two are simply called "Mario's" while the third one is called "Mario's Fiesta Maya." The location featured here is in Surf City's famous Loehmann's Five Points Plaza where Beach Boulevard ("Highway 39" as my grandmother used to call it), Main Street, and Ellis Avenue converge. It used to be its own separate building on the lot there along with a one-screen Edwards Theater, a supermarket, a liquor store, and not much else. In the early 80's the whole place was overhauled and turned into a two-wing strip mall with all the separate shops now squeezed together.


Chile Colorado





Here's some additional photos from April 2, 2008:





And here's some more photos from November 4, 2008: