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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Del Taco Crispy Shrimp Taco Returns

Just a quick note that Del Taco has brought back their Crispy Shrimp Taco for a limited time. If anyone knows the price please leave a comment. Last year they were $1.89. Look for a coupon on Del Taco's Facebook page.

New for this year (2011) are the Baja style shrimp taco and burrito:

Here's the press release:

It's Shrimp Time!

Del Taco Introduces New Baja Shrimp Taco and Burrito,
Gives Facebook Fans a Free Shrimp Taco

(LAKE FOREST, CA) Feb. 22, 2011 – It's that time of year to give a shrimp at Del Taco. Del Taco will again be offering its very popular crispy golden shrimp tacos and giving a free shrimp taco coupon to Facebook fans. This year, Del Taco is adding a new twist to its shrimp line up with the introduction of a new Baja shrimp taco and burrito.

“Our flavorful shrimp is something our loyal fans look forward to,” said John Cappasola, Chief Brand Officer at Del Taco. “Our new tangy Baja sauce adds another craveable flavor option to both our taco and burrito line-up, giving our customers another reason to believe Del Taco is the place for great tasting tacos and unbeatable value.”

The new Baja shrimp taco, at $2.19, features crispy golden shrimp, crunchy cabbage, fresh salsa and a tangy Baja sauce in a warm flour tortilla with a fresh lime wedge. The new Baja shrimp burrito, at $3.69, features crispy golden shrimp, crunchy cabbage, seasoned rice, fresh salsa and tangy Baja sauce in a warm flour tortilla.

Del Taco will also continue to serve its popular shrimp and fish tacos, and shrimp or fish & fries. Del Taco first introduced seafood tacos with the launch of the Crispy Fish Taco in 2005. With a hand-breaded fish fillet, crunchy cabbage, hand-made salsa and secret sauce, Del Taco’s Fish taco remains one of the most popular tacos served at the Mexican chain.

Facebook coupon offer is good while supplies last and valid at participating Del Taco locations.

Del Taco menu items are made fresh to order, and are prepared with many quality ingredients including lard-free beans made from scratch daily, real cheddar cheese grated daily, chicken grilled fresh every hour, hand-made salsa and fresh produce.
Del Taco has more than 520 restaurants in 18 states.

# # #


Del Taco Official Site

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Roundup #20

I haven't done one of these roundup entries in a long time. In fact since it's been almost two years it's time again to mention some things related to Mexican food in Orange County that don't fit neatly into a traditional restaurant review.

Mexican restaurants I've been to for non-review purposes since the last roundup entry include: Sharky's, Cancun Fresh, Taleo, Del Taco, Tacos El Chavito, Rubio's, Fresca's, Azteca (Garden Grove), Cocina Cucamonga, Tacos & Co., Taco Rosa, Wahoo's, La Sirena Grill, Mario's, Little Onion, Gammy's Cafe, Taqueria el Granjenal, El Pollo Loco, Taco Bell, Jalapeno's, Rollie's, Las Barcas, Azteca's (Fountain Valley), La Sirena Grill and Cantina, Sol Cocina, Chronic Tacos, Pena's, Las Fajitas, Alberto's, Carnitas Los Reyes, Baja Fish Tacos, La Salsa, Taco Mesa, El Cholo, Alexa's, Mario's Fiesta Maya, Rancho del Zocalo, La Sirena Grill and Cantina, Los Cotijas, Rodrigo's, Pedro's Tacos, La Capilla, Tia Juana's, Las Brisas, La Cocina de Isabel, Alebrije's, La Nueva Reyna de Michoacan, Cancun Juice, Matador Cantina, Cafe Maiz, El Toro Bravo, Blue Agave, Gabbi's, Señor Campos, Amorelia Mexican Cafe, Super Mex, Taco Factory, Ostioneria Playas de Sinaloa, Tacos Jerez, Tortas Sinaloa, and Super Pollo.

Non-Mexican restaurants I've been to since the last roundup entry include: J&J's House of Subs, the deli at Gelson's, Claim Jumper, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Express, Boudin SF, King's Hawaiian, Rockin' Crepes, Mugen Japanese Cuisine, Gyu-Kaku Japanese Barbecue, Pacific Whey Cafe, Funashin, La Palma Chicken Pie Shop, Crab Cooker, Ruby's, Sagami Tei, The Chippy, Pei Wei, Andrei's, Ruby Palace, Green Rice Kabob, Basilico's, Capital Seafood, Ameci's Pizza and Pasta, Bob's Big Boy, Cafe Hiro, The Counter, Rumbi Island Grill, Old Spaghetti Factory, The Anaheim White House, The Blue Bayou, Taste of India, Lucca Cafe, Don the Beachcomber, The Haven Gastropub, Mrs. Knott's Chicken Restaurant, Catch of the Day, Mongolian BBQ, Portillo's, Tenko Teriyaki, Mona Lisa, Capone's, Five Guys, Italy's Little Kitchen, Pinot Provence, Sushi Plus, Fu Wing Low, Clay Oven, Cafe Grill, Nalu's Island Grill, Bruxie Gourmet Waffles, Kabuki and Tokyo Table.


The Rubio's Beach-Mex chain is now testing hand-battered fish tacos in several OC locations: Tustin Marketplace, Costa Mesa - Newport & Harbor, Santa Ana - MacArthur & Fairview, Laguna Hills Mall & Fountain Valley. I guess this means they're going back to their roots?




Yes, that is actually soup, at least the beginning of a bowl of the ethereal huitlacoche corn soup from the new Raya at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. When I first heard about Raya I thought it was a Mexican restaurant. Then I go there and see that it's really more of a pan-Latin/pan-Asian fusion restaurant. Still, they do have a couple Mexican items and this soup is, well, out of this world. Once they pour the soup over the toppings (bottomings?) it looks slightly less intriguing but then you get to taste it . . . and you will be glad you did. Edwin Goei at the OC Weekly wrote a whole article just about the soup. You can also click on the photo to go to the entire album of photos I took on my visit there.

Raya's Mushroom Ceviche

Seasons 52

This is the fairly new place at South Coast Plaza that serves no food item that is over 450 calories, but don't let that make you think the food is tasteless. Here's an excellent chile relleno I got from there:


6ix Park Grill

Here's a few Mexican items I got at the 6ix Park Grill restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Irvine:



Carne Asada Tacos

Huevos Rancheros

Pee Wee's Famous


This is a hamburger and hot dog place near Springdale and Edinger but they have a really good bacon-wrapped Mexican hot dog. Check it out:


The press release they sent me about it said:

Regardless of the ancestry, the delicacy begins with a Bolillo, a Mexican-style French Roll bread. The all-beef hot dog is wrapped with bacon for added flavor and cooked together which allows the juiciness of the bacon to saturate the sausage. Finally, a wide array of toppings finish off the Mexican Hot Dog in just about any way the customer has a craving for.

While some may choose the traditional hot dog condiments such as pickles, ketchup and relish, the adventurous (or those looking for a truly genuine experience) will select grilled or pickled jalapeños as a base and add crema (a Mexican crème fraiche). Pinto beans, salsa, pico de gallo, cilantro, and avocado are all authentic additions. With cheese such as Mexican Cotija or shredded yellow cheese, Pee Wee’s Mexican Hot Dog is one that will send your taste buds south of the border.

Official Site

An Update About Updates

It's nothing new but I don't update the blog as much as I used to but I have by no means forgotten about it. I have also been spending plenty of time keeping the blog in good working order; there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes on that isn't always readily noticeable and the bigger the blog gets the more there is to do. Part of what happened is that I started putting mini-updates on our new Twitter and Facebook pages. There are also tons of photos on the associated Flickr page. There is a little bit of overlap between the blog, the Twitter, the Facebook, and the Flickr photos, but each "channel" also has plenty of unique content.

And, yes, we still accept guest reviews and pay $10 per each published review.

Funny Search Terms

Sometimes in my roundup entries I mention funny search terms that people have searched on that have led them to this blog. These are all real and, no, I did not make them up:

  • "organic snowcone toppings"
  • "beast tacos in orange county"
  • "is taco bell authentic?"
  • "cinco de mayo week is the absolute worst"
  • "rastafarian last supper poster"
  • "preparation of orange squash by using whey"
  • "dexter holland salary"
  • "has anyone ever bought coconut at the l.a. produce market?"
  • "if i don't use my library card, what happens oc"
  • "can i have jack in the box tacos sent to me?"
  • "george costanza sundae"
  • "why isnt there a cafe rio in new mexico"
  • "el torito grill honey butter recipe" (isn't it just honey and butter?)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Matador Cantina

Date of First Visit: June 2, 2009
Matador Cantina
111 N Harbor Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 871-8226

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Winner Best Mexican Restaurant

Matador Cantina Voted Best Mexican Restaurant. Honored at 2013 Golden Foodie Awards

Fullerton, CA (October8, 2013) – Matador Cantina is honored to be the recipient of the 2013 Golden Foodie Award for Best Mexican Restaurant. Held Sunday, September 29th at the Fairmont Newport Beach hotel, the program honored some of Orange County’s most inventive culinary minds.

“This was certainly a team effort, and one I’m very proud of,” said Matador Cantina Executive Chef David Dennis. “It’s such an honor to be able to bring this award back to Fullerton and share it with our guests. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”

Known for its inventive Latin-inspired dishes, Matador Cantina has previously garnered “Best of” honors from a variety of other organizations, including Orange County Register, OC Weekly, and Orange County HotList among others.

About The Golden Foodie Awards
The Golden Foodie Awards were created to honor extraordinary culinary talent. The GFA’s harness the collective power of the entire community to recognize local excellence and celebrates with a lavish red carpet gala. This event embodies the spirit of food and community in a way that has never been done. Food lovers around the county vote in this people’s choice style award during the month of August with winners announced at The Golden Foodie Awards. The event illuminates the local Orange County food scene and celebrates Independent and/or Chef driven Restaurants.

About Matador Cantina
Founded in 2009, Matador Cantina is nestled in the heart of historic downtown Fullerton within the city’s oldest commercial building, built in 1899. The restaurant features modern Mexican cuisine by executive chef David Dennis, available for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Also, known for its libations, Matador Cantina offers a full menu of crafted cocktails, including an assortment of award-winning margaritas, full selection of Mexican and craft beer, as well as over 50 types of premium Tequilas and Mezcals. Lunch is served daily from 11am, dinner from 4pm, and brunch from 9am Saturday and Sunday. Matador Cantina features its award-winning Taco Tuesday every Tuesday from 2pm with fresh-grilled tacos and featured drink specials. Happy Hour is offered 2pm-6pm MondayFriday. Open daily ‘til 2am. Matador Cantina is located at 111 North Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA. For reservations and info on special events and private bookings, call 714.871.8226 or visit


Interview with Chef David Dennis

Q: Best part of being a chef?
A: Creating in the kitchen, and making people happy.
Q: Name a kitchen utensil you couldn't do without.
A: A good knife.


Q: What's more important, food or service?
A: They're equal, and good food and service must go hand in hand.
Q: What Matador menu item is requested most?
A: Our specialty Chile Relleno.
Q: What is Matador known most for?
A: Great food and drinks.
Q: Name something no one knows about you.
A: I lived in Haiti.


Q: What would you be doing if not a chef?
A: I would enjoy being a SCUBA instructor.
Q: You were appointed as Matador GM, in addition to your role as head chef. How does this change your outlook of the business?
A: I've always worked both front and back of house so I would know everything about the business. I like being involved in every aspect.
Q: Favorite restaurant?


A: Changes every month, but now it's Olivia's Bistro.
Q: Favorite chef?
A: Thomas Keller.
Q: Chocolate or berry parfait?
A: Chocolate any day.
Q: Two or four wheels?
A: Two. I enjoy riding my bike every chance I get.
Thanks to Chef Dave for answering the questions and to Rob Hallstrom for facilitating the interview and helping with a couple questions. Read the other half of the interview by going to the OC Menus blog.

Matador Cantina Introduces New Signature Cocktails for the Spring Season

Fullerton, CA. (March 28, 2011) - Matador Cantina is pleased to announce today's launch of its specialty seasonal cocktail menu for spring.

Matador’s penchant for quality, handcrafted cocktails using premium liquors fused with fresh-squeezed fruits, bitters, and house-made mixers makes it a popular destination for uniquely crafted cocktails.

Designed by mixologist Ricky Yarnall, each new drink brings the freshness of spring in taste and presentation. The spring season lineup includes six new drinks such as the Alimony, made with strawberries, cucumber and Right Gin; Señor 75, a mix of Ilegal Joven Mescal, fresh house-made sweet and sour, and Champagne; and Lime & Honey, with Sagatiba Cachaça, raw sugar, limes, and Bärenjäger.

The Mañana Mañana combines Sauza Tequila, fresh grapefruit juice and Orgeat syrup to create a drink that is a unique twist on traditional Mexican Tequila. The Jack of Diamonds is made with fresh green grapes with Hendrick’s Gin and Yellow Chartreuse; and Vic’s Mai Tai is made with Trader Vic's Original Mai Tai recipe, aged rum, Orgeat, lime juice and topped with mint.

New Vegan Selections

Fullerton, CA. (February 15, 2011) - Matador Cantina, Fullerton's premier destination for authentic Mexican food and drinks, now offers vegan and vegetarian menu items.

Acknowledging the popularity in health food trends and a growing number of vegetarians, Executive Chef David Dennis has created specialty dishes with meat alternatives, like Vegetarian Fajitas, Vegan Street Tacos, and Roasted Shallot and Portobello Tacos.

The fajitas, regularly served with a choice of fresh-grilled meats, are now available with Portobello mushrooms, grilled peppers and onions, guacamole, and sour cream, with the option of house-made flour or gluten-free corn tortillas.

Roasted Shallot and Portobello Tacos are made with Pico de Gallo, Cotija Cheese and topped with lettuce with choice of soft or hard shell gluten-free tortillas.

The Vegan Street Tacos are made with seasoned soyrizo, a house-made meat alternative with sautéed Poblano peppers and grilled onions. This offering is also available as a meat substitute for any menu items at no additional cost.

Click to enlarge drink special info

If you remember Fullerton's old Rockin' Taco that was mostly a bar and a little bit of a restaurant, well, now Matador Cantina is in its place and is mostly a restaurant and a little bit of a bar.

I found out about them quite some time ago but didn't get a chance to go until last Tuesday. It is similar to Gabbi's in that it was built into an 1899 brick building then refurnished with elegant handmade decor (even the bar stools were individually handcrafted).


On this strip of Harbor Boulevard in historic Downtown Fullerton there is no parking so park behind the restaurant and enter through the back:


Or enter through the front if arriving by foot:



They still have the Fullerton's original Taco Tuesday carried over from Rockin' Taco's legacy but with their own gourmet twist:


Start with tri-colored chips and salsa:


The tri-colored chips also form the outer crust of their unique spin on the chile relleno, which is also stuffed with creamy, dreamy, steamy Oaxacan cheese:


Chile verde

Dessert platter

Click here to see the complete album (84 photos so far) at .

Here's a press release I was sent about the executive chef at Matador Cantina

The Matador Cantina Announces Appointment of Executive Chef Dave Dennis

Fullerton, CA (March 4, 2009) – The Matador Cantina, today announced the appointment of Executive Chef Dave Dennis. Dennis brings to the position over 10 years of diverse experience having led the culinary teams at such notable restaurants as Ruth's Chris in Phoenix, Arizona, Keegan's in Chandler, Ariz. and most recently King's Fish House in Orange, California, where he served as Executive Chef for five years and helped the restaurant earn "Best of" Orange County honors two years in a row.

A graduate of Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Southern California native expanded his culinary repertoire to include a wide range of Mexican cuisines while living in Mexico near Puerto Vallarta and while working as a private chef on a chartered yacht in Panama.

"Living in Mexico afforded me the pleasure and incredible firsthand experience of authentic Mexican cooking at its best," said Dennis. "What I now apply to my own recipes was initially developed from generations of cooking methods straight out of a Mexican kitchen."

In response to his appointment, Matador managing partner Mario Marovic stated, "Chef Dennis is an extraordinary talent and we are extremely pleased to have him onboard. We believe that with his help, the Matador will raise the bar for great Mexican food in Fullerton and throughout North County."

The cuisine will be a fusion of native and contemporary Mexican favorites with a hint of other cultural flavors. The result: traditional items such as Tres Enchiladas using varied sauces made from robust peppers and garden fresh ingredients to unique and mouth-watering dishes such as Chorizo Ravioli served with a cilantro cream sauce.

The Matador Cantina is located at 111 North Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA. Lunch will be served daily from 11am, 365 days a year. Brunch will be served from 11am Saturday and Sunday. Dinner reservations, as well as private party information prior to opening can be obtained by calling 714.871.8226 or visit for updated info.

Media Contact: Rob Hallstrom, 714.473.7033,

And here's some photos they sent me:








UPDATE: And here's some photos of my own from a subsequent visit I made where I tried the excellent queso fundido and chorizo ravioli:



House salad w/ pepitas & tequila-lime dressing

Carnitas platter w/ sweet potato fries and grilled vegetables