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Best Mexican food in the OC

I am born and raised in Orange County and am a lover of all foods Mexican. Have I missed any gems? Who has the best pozole, tamales, ceviche etc...foods that most Mexican restaurants fall short on? Which restaurants are dives and which restaurants are more upscale? Let me know your thoughts.

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  1. Are you near enough to Huntington Beach to want to try this place? La Choza is fairly new to the area, although they have another long-time location in L.A. area. Tortillas are handmade fresh on the premises (you can watch them being made while you wait for a table). The place was completely renovated after the last occupant left. It's an older style place from the outside but inside is very nice, lots of room, even a room on the west side for larger group parties. We've been twice. My husband ordered the barbacoa both times. Last time I had the seafood (I think it was squid) and it was good - you can order it 3 or 4 ways. Haven't seen that anywhere else.
    Their service has improved since the first visit. The main dining area has been just a tad cool both times I've been there, you might need a light sweater if your personal thermostat runs that way. (My husband, on the other hand, was fine in short sleeves). The main dining room is also a bit noisy, so if you want a quieter spot, you might prefer the seating directly across from the main entrance. Here's a site that has some other comments, mostly positive: <http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-choza-rest...> Prices are reasonable, not cheap.
    La Choza
    7402 Edinger Ave
    Huntington Beach, CA 92647
    (714) 842-7888

    1 Reply
    1. re: Joani Macaroni

      For tacos Carnitas Los Reyes in orange cannot be beat.

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      Carnitas Los Reyes
      273 Tustin Ave, Orange, CA 92866

    2. I don't think you will get any definitive answers because there is so much to choose from in OC.

      If I had to choose my favorite "hole-in-the-wall" taco joint it would be El Toro Bravo in Costa Mesa.

      My favorite "upscale" would be Javier's in Newport Beach or Gabbi's in Orange.

      6 Replies
      1. re: cdmedici

        I love Gabbi's, but it definitely is more upscale, and not cheap at all. Javier's is not bad for lunch, or for cocktails/snacks. Las Cotijas in Tustin on 1st in Old Town (for fish tacos and fish burritos), and Jugos Acapulcos on 19th St. in Costa Mesa so far are my favorite hole-in-the-wall places. And I liked Mariscos los Mochis in Anaheim for very reasonably-priced seafood dishes.

        I like the sound of the handmade tortillas, as this has been a personal quest since moving to OC, so I will try La Choza next time I'm in the HB area.

        1. re: FoodieKat

          I grew up in Tustin, Las Cotijas, is that new? I'm going to try it for sure.

          1. re: irishkevbo

            Definitely not new. It's an old hole in the wall. Delicious fish tacos, but their "hot" sauce is nothing of the kind.

            1. re: irishkevbo

              Las Cotijas is at 642 E 1st St, in Old Town Tustin. It's my favorite local hole in the wall for fish tacos, burritos, etc. I totally agree with Das Ubergeek as well; they have delicious tacos, good horchata, and pretty good rice and beans too, but their hot sauce is wimpy (I'm considering bringing my own next time). The Pico de Gallo is not bad though, I usually use this instead. I heart Tustin. :-)

          2. re: cdmedici

            Where is El Toro Bravo, do they have a website?

            1. re: irishkevbo

              You see how funny your question is when you go there. I don't even think they have a working cash register.

              739 W 19th St, Costa Mesa

          3. My favorite "hole-in-the-wall" is Fiesta Grill on 17th in Huntington Beach. It is next to a laundry mat I use so I always grab food there on laundry days.

            I tried La Choza once and thought it was pretty good.

            I have to agree with Javiers as the best upscale. I go to Gabbi's fairly regularly because Orange is convenient for many friends to meet me but I have never been incredibly impressed.

            2 Replies
            1. re: figg

              Is this the famous Figg from Rockin Figg in HB?

              1. re: irishkevbo

                Nope. Funny though. I am a surfer from HB and never put the 2 together . . .

            2. One of my favorites would be The Taco Factory in Tustin. That is more whole in the wall and I would say their carne asada is some of the best I have ever had.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mrlttran

                Gloria's on 19th street in Costa Mesa for the most authentic carnitas.

              2. I personally like Taleo for upscale. And for artery clogging tex-mex, with pounds of cheese and guacamole, I like Mario's in Loehman's plaza - Huntington Beach.

                8 Replies
                1. re: OC Mutt

                  Their food is good but don't go there for salsa. The last time we went (now several years ago due to this event) we were nibbling on the ubiquitous basket of chips and the bus boy came by to refill our salsa bowl. We hadn't been too impressed with it to begin with (rather thin and sort of catsupy looking/tasting) but when he cheerily filled up the cup sporting a gallon sized PLASTIC bottle of generic brand salsa right at our table, I suddenly realized why my taste buds had been less than tingled. . . we now eat at Enrique's which has great, FRESH, CHUNKY salsa. On the other hand, if/when we ever return to Mario's (either there or the one on Springdale) I will probably order their crab enchilada, which used to be very good. Haven't had one in several years now though, so can't really say if they're still good. It was a blend of crab and "krab" but quite tasty.

                  1. re: Joani Macaroni

                    agree, the salsa is lousy and also agree that the "Krab" enchilada is terrific! So are the super-nachos.

                      1. re: FoodieKat

                        Sadly, not in OC but, so worth the drive.

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                        Enrique's
                        17244 Downey Ave, Bellflower, CA 90706

                        1. re: JAB

                          And...

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                          Enrique's
                          6210 E Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90803

                          1. re: JAB

                            Thanks for posting the address info JAB! Yes, FoodieKat, this is the Enrique's we eat at (on PCH). :-) And often see "Mrs. Enrique" at the cash register. It's a real family business and yes, the other location(s?) are related.
                            The later you go, the longer the wait, but they do a lot of take-out orders, so keep that in mind. My hubby loves the chicken paella to go - fix a salad at home and you'll have enough paella for two normal eaters (but it's so good you may not want to share . . !). However, we usually opt to eat there - and we often try the specials.

                      2. re: Joani Macaroni

                        Would you believe Mex chicken soup with avocado? Oy vey or holy mole? Seriously though, other than the (gulp!) excruciating wait, this place totally rocks.