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Mexican in or near Newport Beach

Here's the thing/s:

10 to 12 of us on a Friday night after a funeral.

All but one - me - don't know a lot about or care about good, interesting or regional Mexican food but that's what they want. They want margaritas, good chips and salsa and then the "old favorites." (I would happily forego the margaritas, chips & salsa, etc. in favor of really good, interesting or regional food, but I'll be outvoted. And I'd be surprised if it is to be had anywhere that near Newport Beach anyhow.)

They're not going to want to drive very far from the Newport Beach peninsula - maybe a 10 minute radius.

Any thoughts on the matter? What would be the place that fits the bill but has the best food?

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  1. Javier's Newport Beach is perfect. The pork rib carnitas is actually very good.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Porthos

      Surely you're not talking about Javier's in Crystal Cove...are you? I think both food and drinks there are dreadful. IMHO it's strictly about the scene, although the setting is very nice.

      1. re: josephnl

        It's easy to bash the place because of the scene but the pork sparerib carnitas are tender flavorful and fried. Not bad for $23-$25. If this dish were at Animal people would be lauding it for being genius. In fact I find it much better than Animal's and Lazy Ox's version of ribs IMHO. Can't vouch for anything else there but OP asked for a non regional mexican place with good chips and drinks. That's pretty much Javier's.

        1. re: Porthos

          Have not had the spareribs carnitas, but on my two visits there, nothing there was especially good including the margaritas and chips (which were very greasy). It's also much more expensive than the competition. If I had to stay in Newport, I'd go to El Ranchito. If I could drive a bit, Gabbi's would clearly be my choice or even the Coyote in Laguna. Javier's would not be my choice unless I wanted the scene.

    2. Mi Casa in Costa Mesa for gringo Mex.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tapeworm

        I second Mi Casa............the chips and salsa are addicting.........the margaritas are strong.........and the plates are huge!.....it's not fancy............but it sure fits the "ole favorites" part..........

      2. Sol Cocina.

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

          1. Avila's El Ranchito Newport Beach is as solidly old school, Gringoized-Mexican as it gets (good chips and salsa, huge combo plates and strong margaritas in birdbath-sized glasses) and it is located on the peninsula.

            http://tinyurl.com/7s8t86m

            1 Reply
            1. re: Gypsy Jan

              Good choice for what you're looking for. The Corona del Mar location is really nice. If you're willing to drive 20-30 minutes, Gabbi's in Orange is excellent, and the Coyote Grill in S. Laguna is also a terrific choice.

            2. For estone's requirements, I think Avila's fits the bill, food-wise. I'd vote no on Javier's: food's overpriced for the mediocrity you'd get, and given that it's a funeral rather than an after-work social scene, Javier's wouldn't be my first choice.

              Drinks-wise, I think a better choice is El Matador in Costa Mesa. Since the redecorating a few years ago, they really gussied up the bar with hundreds of kinds of tequila, and I'd personally steer toward some quality boozing, rather than nondescript margaritas at Avila's given the reason to gather the clan. It's still hole-in the wall-looking from the outside, but they cleaned up the inside rather nicely - much nicer than either of the Avila's in Costa Mesa or Corona del Mar.

              The food is still very standard yellow-melted-cheese-covered-red-enchilada-sauce-drowned #2 combo plate type gabacho-Mex, so no worries for those less-adventurous on that front.

              http://www.elmatadorcostamesa.com/abo...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Professor Salt

                I had terrible service at Mi Casa years ago - it was epic - would never recommend it. I think that Sol Cocina would be nice since you mentioned that it is a group after a funeral. It's on the water and it's popular with a creative and modern menu. Make a reservation though. My condolences.

              2. El Matador on Newport Blvd by the corner of Rochester also fits the bill. Solid old-school Mexican of the Avila's school, but not a chain. Reasonable prices, big drinks and acceptable food.