Barrel-Aged Cocktail in a Flask at Anepalco, Our Drink of (Last) Week!

Photo by The Mexican

Cesar Cerrudo is busy finishing the final touches on the cocktail menu for Danny Godínez's long-promised Mercado. But don't the el maestro has let the bar slack over at Anepalco. The holidays have brought some new hooch on the menu--all wonderful, all raza. But lest you dismiss Cerrudo as too Latino-centric, out comes what every mixologist in OC will now copy: a barrel-aged cocktail in a flask.

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Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria Just Had the Best Week Ever!

Categories: Mexi Meals

Thumbnail image for Salgado1.JPG
OC Weekly archives
Salgado: Long may he reign

An extraordinary 2015 just got even more extraordinary-er for Carlos Salgado, the man behind Taco Maria. After beginning the year with 2014 awards for Best Restaurant in OC by both this infernal rag and the Orange County Register and a spot in Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold's Top 10 list, Salgado was named one of Food and Wine's 10 Best New Chefs for this year.

Then came this week.

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Santa Ana to Pick City's Best Legal Tamale (Or You Can Check Out Gustavo's List)

Categories: Mexi Meals

Photo by Ricardo
It's almost that time of year, huh?

We all have our favorite tamales (mine's from the random tamale man that drops by my mom's office occasionally). If your favorite tamales are from a licensed restaurant in Santa Ana, you want might want to let them know that they can enter a city-sponsored contest to determine Santa Ana's best tamales.

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OC Register Food Critic's Guide To Street Food In The Whitest City In Mexico is Pure Pendejo

Dave Lieberman
Quesadillas de chile relleno, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca: safe enough for the Register?

Brad A. Johnson, the erstwhile restaurant critic of the sinking ship known as the Orange County Register, has published a guide to street food in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Let that sink in. The man who once panned a torta shop in Santa Ana for having sub-par French fries and who declared that Buena Vista Market in Dana Point was Guerrero-style food is now an expert on Mexican antojitos. Listening to him pontificate about where to find the best street food is like taking advice from Martha Stewart about how to win at street ball.

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3. Chilaquiles at Anepalco

Dave Lieberman
Duck carnitas chilaquiles at Anepalco... ¡válgame Dios!
We're reaching the end of 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

The chilaquiles at Anepalco have been legend since it first opened in a tiny, impossible-to-park-in space on Main Street in Orange. A crown of tortilla chips bathed in an amazing, spicy, smoky, rich salsa, topped with cotija cheese and a perfectly cooked egg; the best breakfast, bar none, your drippy greasy breakfast burrito notwithstanding, in Orange County.

But that's only the start. At Anepalco, the full restaurant in the Alo Hotel on the corner of Chapman and The City Drive in Orange, there are multiple preparations of chilaquiles.

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LA Hipster Chefs Think They're Inventing French-Mexican Food--But OC Did it 1st!

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Anepalco Chef Danny Godinez, doing French Mexican food in 2010

I'm familiar with the food of Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the two Floridians who officially opened up Los Angeles late last decade and have ruled LA dining ever since. Animal was overrated; Son of a Gun, better; their collaborations with celebrity chef Ludo Lefebvre, good. But sorry, kids: don't get the obsession with them that the rest of the foodie world has.

And now, in an interview with our mother paper, LA Weekly, the two just proved to me they're not just ironically affected hipsters but rather straight-up pendejos. When asked if they had ever heard anyone ever do French Mexican food or a French Mexican brunch, Dotolo replied that no, and that, "I think we're all just being kind of weird right now."

Nah, bruh: you're six years late to the game, 'cause OC's own Danny Godinez of Anepalco's has doing French-Mexican food for years.

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14. "Not Pa' Ella" at Anepalco

Dave Lieberman
Es mío, todo mío... ¡not pa' ella!
We're reaching the end of 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

"Not Pa' Ella" is a silly play on words that means both "not for her" (though women are, of course, encouraged to order it) and "not paella". And it isn't; like most things. It's a jumble of seafood and Jidori chicken atop a round of creamy rice floating in a pool of velouté. Though it's a mass of textures and sizes, each piece is cooked exactly as it should be; the rice barely supports the meat's weight in its lightness, and there's exactly enough velouté for one surreptitious last swipe with the fork at the end.

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45. Tijuana-Style Carne Asada Tacos at Tio Flaco's

Dave Lieberman

Real carne asada, long the dominion of tíos armed with barbecue grills in their yards on Sunday after Mass, is finally starting to make its way into restaurants north of the border. San Diego has a branch of Tijuana's Tacos el Poblano; there's a taco stand at a llantera in South L.A. that even gets nervous Westsiders to venture south of MLK; even Vegas has TJ-style tacos at Tacos el Gordo. But Orange County has been slow to adopt; we love our lonchera flat-top carne asada too much.

But after we published the Only Taco Guide to Orange County You'll Ever Need last week, reader Jim Flores chimed in with Tío Flaco's, a brand-new taco shop in on Magnolia Avenue that grills their meat over wood fire.

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The Only Taco Guide to Orange County You'll Ever Need

Micah Wright/OC Weekly
Wood-Grilled Tacos at Solita

By Gustavo Arellano, Edwin Goei, Charles Lam, and Dave Lieberman

You really want us to pontificate on the glories of tacos in Orange County as an intro? Fuck that: our Mexican in Chief wrote a whole book on the subject--find it! In the meanwhile, make this your bible for the rest of the year, starting . . . now.

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51. Consomé de Barbacoa at El Torito Nuevo

Photo by The Mexican
Slurp up

We're reaching the halfway point of 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!

Look at those garbanzo beans: fat, glistening, pregnant with earthiness. Look at the pool of consomé from where it came from. And look at the barbacoa, barely visible and fuzzy in the shot. That's the order of preference that you should tackle the barbacoa plate at El Torito Nuevo in Orange.

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