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Sep 6, 2006 10:18 PM

Taco Mesa in Orange - Review and Photo Link

In my quest to try out every Taco Mesa location I recently made it to their spot in the city of Orange for the first time. If you didn't know that Taco Mesa has been voted as the #1 Mexican restaurant in Orange County you might overlook them in this unassuming locale. One of the people I went with on this visit said she used to work right by it and never realized it was there and now she's kicking herself for having not availed herself of the opportunity to take frequent lunch breaks there when she ahd the chance. So now I'm calling it to your attention. Begun by the brothers Calderon (Ivan and Marco) in the early Nineties the Taco Mesa chain focused on healthy, authentic, traditionally based Mexican food that would fill you up without weighing you down. Fifteen years later they are still going strong with four locations, a spinoff (Taco Rosa - similar to Taco Mesa but with more elegance), and plans for expansion.

Pay attention to the specials board when you enter. You might be able to catch a rare dish. I don't know if it's true at other Taco Mesa locations but this one in Orange serves breakfast all day.

I also stumbled upon the site recently for Taco Mesa Ministry, a Christian group that meets at the Orange location on Tuesdays and Fridays ( - although I don't know if they are still active).

I ordered their special of the day, the Pescado Acapulco, a yellowtail tuna fillet resting on a bed of acorn squash with spokes of carrot and asparagus. My friends, Chris and Kristanna, took advantage of Taco Mesa's new lunch combos using one of the coupons from my mailer to get the second combo for only a dollar. They each got a three item plate with a taco, an enchilada, and two taquitos.

They make two or three different flavors of aguas frescas, fresh fruit juices, each day. I had the horchata on this visit and if I remember correctly the other choices that day were watermelon and jamaica, but they have many different flavors to choose from.

The only dessert they offer is baked cream cheese flan with caramel and strawberries, but it is worth it. If you are turned off of flan because of its typically silky texture then give this kind a try because it is thick and rich. I used the other coupon from the mailer I brought with me to get the flan for only a dollar. Pay attention to your "junk mail" as these coupons might circulate again. Still looking forward to reviewing their Costa Mesa and Mission Viejo locations.

The photo post contains nine high quality pictures of the restaurant and its food:

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  1. taco mesa ?!?!? man, i have fond memories of the orange location - lived about a mile away - used to hit go jogging at the high school track abutting the the shopping center housing TM - i really loved their soups - the roasted tomato was top notch - the blackened chicken tacos - very good !! i'm pleased to hear they are still churning out great food !

    1. I believe their specials board mentioned roasted tomato soup when I was there. They still have their original location in Costa Mesa, one in Ladera Ranch, and the only one I haven't been to yet is in Mission Viejo.

      1. IMHO the ultimate hound partakes of places that defy simple description. Maybe the chow's a bit edgy, the clientele somewhat quirky or the digs curiously funky. The chow's pretty good but invariably it's the total experience that truly kicks it up a notch, even far up.
        Taco Mesa in CM is one of those places, along with Wholesome Choice in Irvine and Gaby's in Culver City. Burger Continental in Pasadena would fit the bill if the chow hadn't degenerated to slop. Never boring, with a constantly changing cast of characters and excellent people watching to complement the chow. So live a little, order Taco Mesa's seafood dishes, smother with condiments from the salsa bar, smile at bikers at the next table, and ingest some 17th St exhaust along with your Corona. Hey, you only go around once. And guess what, cheap too.

        1. "So live a little, order Taco Mesa's seafood dishes."

          Did I mention you can get blackened calamari tacos from Taco Mesa?

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChristianZ

            Or the Shrimp Taquito specials? They're on the regular menu @ Taco Rosa, but somehow much better at Taco Mesa, where there's sometimes the special dish of the day.