BEHOLD! The end of the line for our 100 favorite dishes of 2013, released in conjunction with our fantabulous Best Of 2013 issue, which you can pick up in finer newstands NOW! Print out this list, match it up with the restaurants in our issue, and happy eating for the next year! Anyhoo, on to the winner...
I wasn't going to give the top prize to Taco Maria. Oh, it's not because Carlos Salgado doesn't deserve it: I've eaten everything Salgado has ever offered in Orange County, both the stuff at his old luxe lonchera and the prixe fixe menu he's currently offering at his swank OC Mix digs, and not only have I never been disappointed, I've always been stunned into gustatory silence. The cabrón is a master of food, each creation a dare to himself and his staff to up the ante, a challenge of brotherly (and sisterly) love ala the 1927 Yankees--think of this place as the Mike Trout of OC's dining scene.
But I knew that the kind words would soon swarm Taco Maria--and what do the words of a fishwrap matter, anyway, to cuisine as refined as this? The Orange County Register's Brad A. Johnson just gave him three stars, calling Taco Maria "one of the most sophisticated restaurants to open in Orange County in years." Our own Bill Esparza, writing for Los Angeles and a legendary stickler for quality, said "Modern Mexican has now arrived in the U.S." And we just called Taco Maria the Best Mexican Restaurant in OC for our annual Best Of issue.
Really, no more need from me to further praise Salgado. And then I tasted Salgado's aguachile.More »