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

Monday, December 24, 2012

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

It's the last day before Christmas. Is all your shopping done? Do you need to get anything at the last minute but just can't fit extra shopping into your schedule today? Here's a few things you can order online today for anyone on your list who is awesome enough to be a Mexican food lover. Just click on any image to be taken to its online order form:

Description: This magazine marries authentic Mexican cuisine with the practicality of weeknight necessity. The recipes are easy, quick, convenient, and make-ahead. For Mexican food-lovers, this magazine is filled with familiar tastes and unexpected delights.

I actually have this issue and will probably order the one above soon. It's a good beginning primer on Mexican cooking and food knowledge.

Good Deal Here:

Save Up To An Extra 50% On Digital Magazines:

Even Better Deal (But Act Fast)

For a limited time Zinio is allowing me to give away 10 free digital magazine subscriptions. To enter click here to choose a title you would like. Then e-mail with the following information:
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email Address
  • Title of choice
If you are one of the 10 winners you will receive an email directly from Zinio informing you how to claim your gift. Once we get ten submissions we will post here that the contest is over. So if you don't see a note that the contest is over then you're safe to submit!

Yep, this is Gustavo Arellano's book. From Amazon's description: "When salsa overtook ketchup as this country's favorite condiment in the 1990s, America's century-long love affair with Mexican food reached yet another milestone. In seemingly every decade since the 1880s, America has tried new food trends from south of the border—chili, tamales, tacos, enchiladas, tequila, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and so many more—loved them, and demanded the next great thing. As a result, Mexican food dominates American palates to the tune of billions of dollars in sales per year, from canned refried beans to frozen margaritas and ballpark nachos. It's a little-known history, one that's crept up on this country like your Mexican neighbors—and left us better for it."

I can also vouch for this cookbook. You might think that coming from Williams-Sonoma that it'd be too hoity-toity, but it's not. It does a great job of covering many authentic, regional specialties from all around Mexico and explaining the differences between the regions. And, hey, it just looks great.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mexican Restaurants Open Christmas Day 2013


Here's the places in Orange County, CA, that I know of that will be open on Christmas Day 2013. Not all of them are Mexican. If you are planning on going to any of them it doesn't hurt to contact them ahead of time, because even if they are open they may be too full to seat more:
Tortilla Jo's - Logo

Leave a comment if you know of other places that will be open. Anything listed below here was confirmed in those years and may still be true for the current year but they just haven't been re-confirmed for the current year yet:


Here's the places that I know of that will be open on Christmas Day 2012:


More listings at The Register.


Here's the places that I know of that will be open on Christmas Day 2011:


Cantina Lounge: Opens at 8pm
Don Jacinto Pollo Grill near Fairview and Warner in Santa Ana


The Fast Food Maven has posted some info for 2009. Click here to read it.


Have been getting a lot of people doing Internet searches lately for "orange county restaurants open Christmas day 2008." As far as Mexican restaurants go the only one I personally know of right now that will be open that day is Tortilla Jo's at Downtown Disney. Tortilla Jo's does not have a special holiday menu for Christmas day but they do have an interesting one for Christmas Eve. If anybody (customers or restaurant owners) knows of any other Mexican restaurant that will be open Christmas Day in Orange County please e-mail the info to or leave a comment in this thread and the information will be added to this entry.

Somebody has just left a comment that the Chevy's in Anaheim Hills is open Christmas Day from Noon - 8pm.Chevy's has closed.

Mexican restaurant

Monday, December 03, 2012

Tacos Tijuana

Tacos Tijuana
2202 W Edinger Ave
Santa Ana, CA 92707
(714) 557-3810

Listing on Menu Mob

Listing on Epic Trip

No known official website.
Yahoo! Maps

Enter starting address:

City, State and/or Zip


(This is an "only-photos-first" post, done quickly to get photos up, with the expectation that text may be added later.)




See the whole photo album at flickr.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Mi Casa Cares" Drive to Support Our Troops Abroad

Mi Casa
296 E 17th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 645-7626

Listing on Google Places

Listing on Citysearch

Official Site
Yahoo! Maps
Enter starting address:

City, State and/or Zip


Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Bar is excited to announce its 5th Annual “Mi Casa Cares” event to support “Operation Gratitude” and our U.S. troops abroad along with a charity raffle to support the “Wounded Warriors Project” and help provide comfort our injured warriors returning home service. Our troops need to know that we support and appreciate the sacrifices they make for us, our families, and our future. Please join us for festive and fun event on Saturday, November 24th from 1-4pm with free appetizer in the bar!

Click the image to see it bigger.

Items to donate:
  • Toiletries (no liquids)
  • Personal Care Items (Travel sizes- troops have little storage)
  • Baby Wipes (Used for bathing in lieu of showers)
  • Shelf-stable Snacks
  • Reading material (softbound books and magazines)
  • New, never worn warm clothing (thermals, hand warmers, jackets, etc…)
  • Batteries (AA)
  • CD's and DVD's
Do Not Bring:
  • Used items
  • Aerosols
  • Items that will melt


Click the image to see it bigger.



Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Bar is excited to announce its 3rd Annual "Mi Casa Cares" Drive to Support Our Troops Abroad. This is our way of saying THANKS to our troops. They need to know that we support and appreciate the sacrifices they make for us, our families, and our future. This Saturday, November 27th is about giving back to those who give it all! Along with collecting items to send to the troops we will have raffle baskets and free appetizers in the bar for all of those to enjoy that participate. Please spread the word to your social network, website, friends and family that would like to support this great cause.

Date: Saturday, November 27th

Time: 1:00 - 4:00 pm (free appetizers in the bar)




Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gabbi's Quick Stop #11

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
141 S Glassell St
Orange, CA 92866-1421
(714) 633-3038

Listing on Yahoo! Local

Listing at The Guide

Official Site
Yahoo! Maps
Enter starting address:

City, State and/or Zip

IMAG0544 Still no sign

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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

El Taco/Taco Jr.

Taco Jr.
2101 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(714) 642-6230

Listing on Trip Advisor

Listing on Yahoo! Local

No known official website.
Yahoo! Maps

Enter starting address:

City, State and/or Zip

El Taco
615 S Euclid St
Anaheim, CA 92802
(714) 535-2059

Listing on Menuism

Listing on Yelp

No known official website.
Yahoo! Maps

Enter starting address:

City, State and/or Zip


If you've ever wondered what Mexican fast food tasted like before it got too kitschy and mass-produced then take a trip to El Taco (not to be confused with Del Taco, Taco Bell, or other such establishments). El Taco has been around since 1958 and is still making its food the same way, with fresh ingredients and most of the fixin's prepared right in the store. All its locations seem to be the originals and you can tell that they have never bothered to update their architecture, but as quaint and charming as it is you don't really want them to. They have an extensive menu featuring nachos, salads, quesadillas, soft and crisp tacos, tostadas, burritos, taquitos, chile rellenos, flautas, and breakfast burritos and tacos. They even have the bun taco and reference it on their menu as something of a Mexican sloppy joe. Out of the different items I tried on several visits the item that needed the most help were the nachos, which were somewhat lifeless and topped with an even more lifeless layer of bland guacamole, which seemed to just be pureed avocados. Apart from this flaw everything else was respectable and can be enlivened with their red or green sauce made on the premises and served in little plastic cups.


For some reason the location on Harbor Blvd. in Costa Mesa has been renamed "Taco Jr." but there is still some "El Taco" branding if you look for it.

Read Dan's review of their Orange location at Eat in OC.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Cantina Lounge - Review #1

Cantina Lounge
2736 East Nutwood
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 879-8094

Listing on Google Maps

Listing at The Guide (LA Times)

Official Site
Yahoo! Maps
Enter starting address:

City, State and/or Zip

(SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Cantina Lounge is doing ½ OFF everything Mondays open to close.)

Part Javier's, part Yardhouse, and part Sutra Lounge and in the spot of the former Off-Campus Pub the recently opened Cantina Lounge in Fullerton, right near CSUF, is serving up some good Mexican food, drinks, and nightlife. Here are some pictures I took on a recent visit to Cantina Lounge where I met up with frequent guest reviewer "Johnny Automatic" for lunch and some of his thoughts:

I had a house margarita on the rocks and was pleased with the flavor and strength of the drink. Given that this place is a lounge, bar, and nightclub, as well as a restaurant, it is good to know the drinks are good. I had the surf n turf quesadilla filled with shrimp and carne asada. It was a very filling and flavorful lunch. They offer black or pinto beans on the side. I went with the black beans and was pleasantly surprised to find them made with bacon and onion. On top of the hummus appetizers I was stuffed and couldn't even finish the quesadilla.

Cantina Lounge Exterior

Cantina Lounge Chips and Salsa
Chips and Salsa

Cantina Lounge Drinks

When I go to a restaurant and peruse its menu one of the first things I look for is any unique item. I have to admit I wasn't expecting Cantina Lounge to have any item I hadn't heard of before but their appetizer menu had a hummus trio. Doesn't sound very Mexican so I almost didn't order it except that it included a jalapeño-flavored hummus and a salsa-flavored hummus. Once this came we largely ignored the chips and salsa we had been working on. And while we were eating it the manager came over and said that the hummus was made using his wife's recipe.

Cantina Lounge Hummus Trio
Hummus Trio

Cantina Lounge Surf and Turf Quesadilla
Surf and Turf Quesadilla

My Carne Asada Torta was one of the best I've had in a while where every bite was a perfect blend of perfectly cooked steak, perfectly toasted bread, and fresh lettuce, tomato, and avocado:

Cantina Lounge Carne Asada Torta
Carne Asada Torta

Cantina Lounge Chocolate Malt Cake
Chocolate Malt Cake

And here is their official press release:

Cantina Lounge is now open for Business, Introducing a Unique Hot Spot for Modern Mexican Cuisine, Sports and Nightlife in Fullerton, California

Great Food and Entertainment under One Roof in a State-of-the-Art Venue for Lunch, Dinner, Sport, and Nightlife
FULLERTON, CA – July 2, 2008 – Cantina Lounge is pleased to announce that it is now open for business, introducing a new experience in modern Mexican cuisine for lunch or dinner that blends fine dining, sports and entertainment for Fullerton and the surrounding areas.


Cantina Lounge rivals the finest restaurants in the area with an experience in dining unlike any other. The relaxing décor at Cantina Lounge features rusted steel, dark woods, rich leathers, candles and a 20-person communal table for an exotic and casual ambiance-that is perfect for spending time with friends and family. The restaurant also features two patios with communal fire pits for mingling late into the night.


"Our goal was to create a lush environment with outstanding food and entertainment all in one place, where people can come and have a great time with family and friends," said Bassel Salloum, co-owner of the restaurant with business partner Jeff Walker. "We have an excellent chef who has created an outstanding menu for lunch and dinner."


The menu features contemporary Mexican fusion mixed with the flavors of traditional Mexican cuisine. Head Chef Felipe Serna brings his culinary expertise to creating an extensive menu including an Ahi tuna appetizer, jalapeno hummus and every imaginable taco from carne asada to shrimp and lobster in an affordable price range from $8-16. Specialty dishes such as baby-back ribs, grilled salmon and other exquisite seafood items are also available. An extensive list of margaritas and specialty cocktails complement this fabulous menu.


"In the evening, most people go out for a great dinner at one place but have to leave and go to another location for entertainment and dancing," said Bassel. “Cantina Lounge offers both in one beautiful venue." For entertainment, Cantina Lounge features 48 50-inch plasma screens, along with intimate booth seating equipped with personal TVs that can be adjusted to whatever each guest prefers to watch. In addition, an 8-foot drop-down HD screen creates the ultimate sports restaurant atmosphere to watch the big game. With the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL tickets, Cantina Lounge's sport bar will feature all professional and college sporting events. Any PPV event such as UFC events will also be displayed at Cantina Lounge, making this the ultimate location for sports watching.


After 10 p.m., Cantina Lounge's Resident DJ Ruffnek rocks the crowd with his eclectic music selection and LIVE mixes and mash-ups that include top 40 hits, hip hop, dance, electro, Reggae, and a large selection of classics from the 80's, 90's and rock party anthems. DJ Ruffnek is a triple threat (Remixer, Producer and Performing Artist) that has toured and played alongside artists such as Parliament, The Gap Band, The Time, Digital Underground, Xzibit and Snoop Dogg. Club Nights at Cantina Lounge will be held every Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday night.

Cantina Lounge's food and entertainment features make this restaurant a grand social scene. Happy hour is from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays and Taco Tuesdays feature $2 tacos and drink specials all night.

Cantina Lounge has several great private rooms for special events including birthday parties, corporate events and all other celebrations. Large booths can also be reserved for that special night out with a more intimate group of friends.


The restaurant is located at 2736 East Nutwood, Fullerton, CA 92831, site of the former Off-Campus Pub. "We know how attached the community and especially Cal State Fullerton was to Off-Campus Pub, and we focused on improving the customer experience when designing Cantina Lounge," said Salloum. "It's designed to offer an all-inclusive restaurant with excellent food and entertainment for a great lunch or evening out."

Cantina Lounge will be open for lunch and dinner Monday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 2:00 am. For more information, please call 714-879-8094 or visit

UPDATE (September 5, 2012): Wow, it's been four years since I've been to Cantina Lounge. Just went back today and they have revamped their whole menu and use more fresh (as opposed to canned) ingredients now and even grow some of their own produce on the lot. What I had for dinner today was chips and salsa, quesadilla fritas (made in a more authentic style using masa rather than flour tortillas), the Enchiladas Montadas with carnitas and sunny-side up egg, and the pineapple sorbet with a strawberry flauta on the side. And I was able to find a seat with better lighting so the pictures turned out better this time:
Click here to see the entire album (23 photos so far) at flickr.

And here's some info they sent me about different deals they have each day of the week:





















$10 OPEN BAR 10PM-11PM



$10 OPEN BAR 10PM-11PM