Viva La Mexican Food

A lot of folks vision of Mexican food across the nation has been unfortunately defined by Taco Bell and El Torito. Mimeographs of a region’s rich and delicious cusine end up getting shifted into something more palatable for people who don’t know any better. That’s why I’m here – I’m going to force some of my personal favorites on you in the hopes that you try them out.

El Fortin
They sure love their mole here but there’s nothing wrong with that. Everything here is lovingly crafted with ingredients flown in from the Oaxaca region of mexico. If you’ve never had Oaxacan food, this place is a wonderful way to get your feet wet. The people behind the counter are always more than happy to suggest dishes to first timers. Horchata fans should try the Oaxacan take on the beverage which includes nuts and melon slices.
700 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton [Also in Stanton]

Taqueria De Anda
This place has always been a favorite when I’ve been drinking heavily at Heroes or The Continental. For some reason a burrito al pastor [BBQ Pork] always seems to pile on top of the booze in just the right way. I always seem to be the only white guy in a resturant that’s normally a sea of vaqueros, but the guys behind the counter always treat me with respect.
308 W. Valencia Dr., Fullerton [Also in Orange, Anaheim, Santa Ana and Placentia]

Taco Mesa
Every time I’ve eaten here the food has been absolutley astounding. I always like to try new things, but when I eat here I often find myself coming back to their Blackened Chicken Burrito. The staff is instructed to “cook as if you were making dinner for your family” and the personal flair from each cook shines thru in their dishes.
730 E. Imperial Hwy., Brea [Also in Orange, Costa Mesa, Mission Viejo and Ladera Ranch]

They’re all over Southern California and Colorado, but Wahoo’s got their start in Costa Mesa. I spent quite a few of my summers when I was younger at Huntington Beach and I ate at the one off Main St. more times than I can remember. A Combo #2 [Two Blackened Fish Tacos and Spicy Cajun White Beans] and a Dr. Pepper has kept me going for more years than I care to remember.
If you want to find one, swing a dead cat

Mexi Casa
I know I came off all anti-cookie cutter at the top of this post, but I loves me some Mexi Casa something fierce. Most of the meals are prepared en masse and dumped into huge steamer trays. When you place your order your server walks back into the kitchen and comes out two to five minutes later with your meal. Besides the speed, there’s something about having a sit down meal for under $5 a person that appeals to my cheap side. I can actually eat for less here than I do at a Taco Bell – and I don’t get mud butt afterwards.
1778 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim

Now that I’ve doled out my favorites, I’m interested to see what all of yours are. So lay `em on me.

23 Comments so far

  1. Daniel Evans (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 3:06 pm

    I’ve lately drifted away from Taco Mesa. But here are some of my favorite Mexican stops in O.C.:

    Las Fajitas on Barranca and East Yale Loop in Irvine has the best ahi tacos this side of Mazatlan.

    El Cholo Cantina on the corner of Jeffrey and Alton (also in Irvine) (and who knew plastic, master-planned Irvine could be a hotbed for Mexican food) is a fave among my peeps.

    The Chili Pepper on Main (near Chapman) in Orange has a pretty extensive menu and usually is packed.

    Los Cabos on Tustin (near Collins) has the best shrimp tacos in Orange County, bar none. They also have Dos Equis Amber on draft, which is nice.

  2. Jill (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 3:20 pm

    What? Jalapeno’s isn’t on the list?! Ah man, best Mexican food in OC. It’s very authentic, and started, I believe, in Tustin, on 1st Street. Other locations include Jalapenos Grille in Fullerton on State College at Chapman, Jalapenos in Irvine on Alton, and in Orange on Glassell.

    Weekends offer 99 cent tacos (I always, always get the shredded beef cripsy tacos). Plus, they always offere student discounts (at least the Fullerton location does).

    So tasty.

  3. ray (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 3:41 pm

    Okay, so you guys are all gung ho carnitas and machaca, but really what I want to know is who has a veggie(or fish) chimichanga, the best enchilada suizas, real hot salsa and not so lightweight margaritas- so far Ive only been to javiers in Laguna on the advice of a friend and i thought it was okay- not great, but okay.

    I thought su casa – or is it mi casa? in costa mesa was pretty good, the margaritas rock, their not shy on portions and the old waitresses are pretty cool.

  4. Terry Chen (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 3:43 pm

    Alertos (McFadden & Brookhurst in Westminster) – This place used to be a ghetto Bolsa gangster hangout when it was open 24 hours a day. I recommend the fish burrito or the giant Chimichanga.

    Albertacos – (somewhere in Laguna Hills, across the street from Saddleback College) CHICKEN ASADA!! soo good.

  5. ray (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 3:43 pm

    btw: is wahoos the place where the meat and fish is served in cubes in your tacos?

  6. ocswing (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 4:01 pm

    Taqueria Mexico in Orange on the corner of Katella and Glassell I believe. Nothing fancy, just 92 cent tacos all the time and a ton of variety that I can’t even remember. It’s kind of a hole in the wall, but it’s open 24 hours. And there is a donut shop next door that makes fresh donuts all day. I’ve had fresh donut holes at midnight.

  7. Michael Doss (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 4:36 pm

    I love good Mexican food, but have trouble finding vegetarian choices. I’m not talking about a burrito or taco stuffed full of broccoli, but rice without chicken stock,tortillas without lard, beans without lard or added pork. Wahoo’s is vegetarian friendly, though most others (Del Taco and Taco Bell withstanding) have non-vegetarian friendly ingrediants.

    Any other suggestions?

  8. Jason Cosper (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 4:51 pm

    Ray: I’m pretty sure Wahoo’s doesn’t cube their meat and fish.

    Michael: If you find yourself in Lake Forest you can always go to Carmel’s [23781 El Toro, Lake Forest]. My vegetarian friend Dave swears by it and has been going there for years. I’m pretty sure Taco Mesa offers veggie friendly options too.

    Wait, are you talking vegetarian or vegan?

  9. Justine (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 4:54 pm

    That Elvis lounge place in Garden Grove. Garlic Tacos, secret Garlic sauce, yum… It’s on their main street. Address and exacts to follow.

  10. Michael Doss (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 5:25 pm

    Jason, I’ll look into Carmel’s. Always happy to try somewhere new.

    I’m a vegetarian. I eat cheese and egg, but I don’t eat any meat or foods made from meat (or killing of animals). This includes lard, fats, and flavorings. Unfortunately, a lot of restaurants call anything without large chunks of meat “vegetarian”, meaning I have to be the ass and ask about every ingrediant seperatly.

  11. mike randall (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 11:18 pm

    I’ve been to Wahoo’s so many times I cut the person off at the register before they ask “Black beans or White, Red sauce or Green Sauce?”

    My personal favorite is the “Big Kahuna” – A Taco, an enchaliada, and three taquitos. If I’m low on cash I go for the #1 (a simple taco with rice and beans).

    Sometimes I spluge for the the 1.25, scratch that, 1.50 beer of the month.

    See I know Wahoo’s too well. Now if we start talking about Burgers don’t get me started on In-N-Out…

  12. ray (unregistered) on September 9th, 2004 @ 11:29 pm

    okay mike, but dont they make the meat in their tacos into cubes?

  13. mike randall (unregistered) on September 10th, 2004 @ 12:22 am

    I think its cut into cubes, not made into cubes.

  14. Joel Sax (unregistered) on September 10th, 2004 @ 8:50 am

    La Perlita near the corner of Portola Parkway and Bake is very good, too. The nice thing about California is that there are plenty of pleasant holes in the wall where you can still eat the real thing not molded in the style of El Terriblito or Taco Hell.

  15. Justine (unregistered) on September 10th, 2004 @ 4:49 pm

    The Elvis Lounge place with the great garlic tacos, etc. in Garden Grove is called Aztec Lounge. x streets/ Main & Garden Grove Blvd.

    Another authentic fng great place in San Juan Cap. is El Molino Del Oro, something like that anyway… Assembly line style and a bakery!

  16. Yolanda (unregistered) on October 13th, 2004 @ 12:26 pm

    Hi Anyone
    I am looking for what is called a “Taco Lady” someone who comes and makes tortillas for tacos, the fixings, and the whole taco bar set up at parties (cater service). Has anyone heard of someone who supplies this service?

  17. jenny (unregistered) on January 24th, 2005 @ 11:17 pm


  18. Javier (unregistered) on January 27th, 2005 @ 3:55 am

    I used to work at Carmel’s in El Toro. They put bacon & lard in their beans & their tortilla supplier (at the time La Morenita) made their tortillas with lard. Not veggie at all!

  19. Jena (unregistered) on June 18th, 2005 @ 5:05 pm

    Wahoo’s does NOT cube their meat!

    I’m glad to see the Jalapeno’s love on the board!

  20. fred gilbert (unregistered) on June 21st, 2005 @ 2:32 pm

    Tortilla Flats – Taco Tuesday… by far the best tacos in OC and only a buck!

  21. Escorts (unregistered) on August 4th, 2005 @ 1:29 pm

    Est-ce que tu connais un ming ho?

  22. camel toe (unregistered) on August 13th, 2005 @ 12:50 pm


  23. Albert (unregistered) on December 14th, 2005 @ 4:55 pm

    Although those are some good choices you’re missing out if you haven’t hit:

    El Conejo Mexican Food
    2429 N Tustin Ave Santa Ana, CA 92705
    (There is also one in Irvine I think )

    Super Antojitos
    1702 N Bristol St Ste D
    Santa Ana, CA 92706
    One in Costa Mesa on Fairview

    El Chinaco
    560 W. 19th St. Unit D
    Costa Mesa

    Taqueria De Anda
    is also in Santa Ana on 4th and near Grand

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