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Aug 4, 2011 04:52 PM

Sit Down Mexican in Santa Ana, or other Orange County cities?

We'll be staying in Irvine for a week visiting family, the beach and Disneyland. When we lived there 20 years ago we used to eat at a couple of Mexican places in Santa Ana, La Perla and La Costa (La Costa customers at the time were about 95% Spanish-speaking).

Anyone have any sit-down Mexican recommendations? I like the places @ 19th St in Costa Mesa, but they tend more to the taqueria style.


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  1. One of our long time favorites for the ambiance is Moreno's on Chapman Ave not far from El Modena High School.

    I assume you are talking about El Matador and Su Casa in Costa Mesa. Love them as old school Sonoran style places.

    For sit down in Santa Ana, maybe Casa Oaxaca, Las Brisas De Apatzingan, La Cocina De Mi Abuelita (weird 50's diner interior, but good food) and El Rincon Chilango for DF style food.

    In Orange, Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen, but this is upscale, foodie Mexican food, not hole-in-the-wall Mexican food and Ostioneria Bahia Mexican Seafood #1 & #2, these aren't quite hole in the walls either, but great, great food.

    Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen
    141 S Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866

    Casa Oaxaca Restaurant
    3317 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

    El Matador
    1768 Newport Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

    Cocina Restaurant
    4901 Durfee Ave, Pico Rivera, CA 90660

    Ostioneria Bahia Mexican Seafood
    4429 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869

    Las Brisas De Apatzingan
    1524 S Flower St, Santa Ana, CA 92707

    El Rincon Chilango
    1133 W 17th St, Santa Ana, CA 92706

    3 Replies
    1. re: scottca075

      Thanks much - to clarify I meant the West 19th places in Costa Mesa, like Taco Mesa and El Toro Bravo. Your recos were just what I was looking for

      El Toro Bravo
      975 W Foothill Blvd, Azusa, CA 91702

      1. re: Calvinist

        If you like Taco Mesa, you should try Taco Rosa, which is the upscale sister. I have only been to the one in Irvine, but if they are all similar, you get quality food, a decent price, and margaritas. For me, a requirement.

        Taco Rosa
        22922 Los Alisos Blvd Ste P, Mission Viejo, CA 92691

        Taco Rosa
        2632 San Miguel Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660

        Taco Rosa
        13792 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, CA 92602

      2. re: scottca075

        Excellent suggestions. It wasn't clear to me from the OP's question whether (s)he was looking for a nicer sit down, or just simply any good mexican where she can sit down. The comment about El Toro Bravo being more taqueria style seems to mean maybe (s)he is looking for a slightly more upscale place?

        So to reiterate your point, the first four you recommend aren't high on decor at all (with El Rincon being the lowest in the ambiance department, and a bit more taqueria style as it focuses a lot on the antojitos). But good food all around. I like La Cocina de mi abuelita's tacos al vapor. Plus, eating tacos next to an Elvis statue is pretty cool. Chilango's quesadillas with huitlacoche are very good. Better than their tortas, I think, which had been previous recommended to me.

        Along the same lines of hole-in-the-wall-but-able-to-sit-down places is El Moctezuma #2 on Harbor Blvd in Garden Grove, just a stone's throw from Disneyland. Not a lot of seating, but pretty good oaxacan food. The tlayuda's I had were really good.

        For more of the nicer-ish sit down, Enrique's in Long Beach is quite good. I realize that's not close to Santa Ana, but you mentioned going to the beach... depending on which beach you go to (seal or even Sunset/HB) it's not too far.

        Cocina Restaurant
        4901 Durfee Ave, Pico Rivera, CA 90660

        El Moctezuma Restaurant
        809 N Fairview St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

        El Rincon
        326 E Palmdale Blvd, Palmdale, CA 93550

      3. Sol Cocina is good, a tad upscale, and close to the water.

        Sol Cocina
        251 East Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92663

        1 Reply
        1. re: New Trial

          I found Sol to be very good, but ridiculously overpriced.

        2. If you're looking for upscale Mexican, there's Taleo in Irvine.

          Taleo Mexican Grill
          3309 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tapeworm

            A little update. When we were down in August we ate at the Taco Rosa in Irvine. Good food, fit the bill after a day at Disneyland. I would go back if the opportunity arose.

            Then I was unexpectedly back down last week, and found a couple of more hole in wall places I really liked.

            First, Taqueria Zamora, 3121 S Main St Santa Ana, CA 92707. Inexpensive, home made tortillas, large portions and a lot of variety. Had a pork dish in red sauce once and a carne asada plate the second time. Beer and wine only. Mostly Hispanic customers, very freindly owner. My wife had camarones. All very good.

            Second was Super Antojitos, 2949 Fairview Rd Costa Mesa, CA 92626. We stopped for lunch, so I only had a chicked tostada, but it was very tasty (and, yes, cheap) and the salsa was nice and hot. I'm guessing it used to be a 50's diner, as it's a lage space and had a couple of counters.

            Taco Rosa
            13792 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, CA 92602

            Taqueria Zamora
            3121 S Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92707