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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cocina Cucamonga Holiday Dessert



Cocina Cucamonga

This is probably the last in my recent line of "quick mentions." Was at Disneyland yesterday and for the first time in three decades of living just a few miles from Disneyland I signed myself up for an annual passport. When I did they gave me the current issue of Backstage Pass magazine for passholders. One of the things it pointed out is that the Mexican restaurant inside Disney's California Adventure, Cocina Cucamonga, is offering for a limited time a holiday-themed pastel de tres leches dessert. Hope to get a picture of it soon. For further reading on Cocina Cucamonga, check out our prior review.

UPDATE (November 29, 2006):

Went back to Cocina Cucamonga today for a quick lunch. Found out that they do have the holiday-themed pastel de tres leches dessert as well as holiday-themed "Crispitos" which I suspect are like the old Cinnamon Crispas from Taco Bell. Also noticed that their regular menu has now dropped the fish tacos, pork tacos, and nachos.

Cocina Cucamonga - Menu Board

Cocina Cucamonga - Holiday Dessert Items

The tres leches cake was perhaps the most mass produced I've ever had. It was dry around the edges but moister as I worked my way to the center. The frosting seemed liked it had been zapped from a Zinger and I suppose the red sprinkles on top were what made it "holiday themed."

Cocina Cucamonga - Pastel de Tres Leches Cake

Taco Bell Breakfast

Just a quick mention that at least some Taco Bell locations are now offering breakfast. I hope to have a list here soon of what all their breakfast items are. When I went through the drive thru of one recently I asked the guy at the window what breakfast items they had and he told me everything and it sounded like it was worth looking into more but all I remember is that it is completely different from the breakfast menu they had briefly about 12 years ago. Leave a comment here if you know more.

UPDATE:

Went back to one of the Taco Bell locations that is serving breakfast (it is only in a few test restaurants now) and found out what breakfast items they are offering:

  • Sausage & Bacon Grilled Stuft Burrito
  • Guacamole Bacon Grilled Stuft Burrito
  • Bacon & Egg Crunchwrap
  • Southwest Sausage Burrito
  • Egg, Bacon & Cheese Burrito
  • Bacon & Egg Taco
  • Cinnamon Toastadas
They also appear to have a hashbrown-type side item and orange juice to go with any of the main items.

And here's a low quality photo of their breakfast menu:

Taco Bell Breakfast Menu

UPDATE (January 29, 2007):

Drove through a Taco Bell in Irvine for lunch today and saw that they now also have a Bacon & Egg Taco for breakfast so I have added it to the list above.

UPDATE (February 16, 2009):

Here's updated images of their breakfast menu:

DSCF6187


DSCF6188

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Review #1

Date of Visit: November 24, 2006
Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill
20722 Rose Canyon Rd
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679
(949) 766-6939

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NOTE (November 15, 2007): Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill was not damaged in the wildfires of October 2007. They are still standing and open for business. We will have a new review of them here in about a week with pictures taken after the fires. UPDATE: Click here for the second review. Or get a 2008 update by CLICKING HERE.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

So, on the lazy day after Thanksgiving (not Black Friday for me) I called up my friends, married couple extraordinaire Chris and Kristanna, and asked if they would like to go with me to try out a Mexican restaurant in Trabuco Canyon. They said, "We were just about to go offroading in that area! We'll come pick you up."

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

So, we headed on out there winding through the 5, the 133, the 241, and more roads I can't even recall until we found ourselves deep in the country in an area that doesn't at all fit the typical Orange County suburban image. A handpainted sign indicated that Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill was just down the road and a right turn away. We knew we were about to find the spot. Unfortunately, once we found the restaurant another sign indicated that it was CLOSED:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

Turns out that on Saturdays and Sundays they open at 11am but on every other day they open at 4pm. It didn't matter that the day felt like a Saturday to us, we were still there three hours too early. We felt like Dorothy and her traveling companions finally arriving in the Land of Oz and being told by the guard at the gate that Oz was closed. Fortunately, none of the trees on our way had been throwing apples at us.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

Of course, the fact that they were closed allowed me to take many pictures of the exterior of the restaurant and the charming locale it inhabits.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior


Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior


Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

The fact that we found the cantina closed also allowed us to go offroading in Cleveland National Forest for a few hours in Chris' Dodge Dakota. We found ourselves above the cloudline, saw mountaintops peaking out from the clouds, and even saw deer a couple times that, like Batman at Super Mex, were too elusive for my camera. That's why you have to go exploring yourselves.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior


Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

When we headed back to the cantina via a different route we found a completely different sign pointing the way:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

And the sun faces on the wall outside were now not just happy but bright and happy:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

The autumn decorations were out in full force as we stepped inside before making our way through the restaurant to the heated outdoor patio seating:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

The requisite chips and salsa were served:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

The chips seemed like a peculiar combination between storebought and homemade, almost but not quite too greasy for my tastes. The salsa was unlike any I've had before, with a pungent, perhaps vinegary, component to it.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Exterior

I ordered the salmon platter, with salmon that was very tender and flaky. It was served with mango salsa with my choice of black beans (over refried beans) and Mexican rice (over Spanish rice). I was tempted to try the halibut with pineapple salsa but that will have to wait until a future visit.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Salmon Platter

Kristanna made her own three item combo consisting of a flauta, a burrito, and a soft taco:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Combo Plate

While Chris, the carnitas king of Orange County, once again ordered the carnitas platter, which he loved:

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Carnitas Plate

For dessert Chris and Kristanna shared the deep-fried ice cream. I couldn't touch it due to its coconut content but that didn't stop the other two from thoroughly enjoying it.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Deep-fried Ice Cream

I ordered the flan which was cut like a slice of pie from a huge flan. As far as flans go this was the lightest and fluffiest I have ever tried.

Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill - Flan

With quality and overall intrigue of their food a little above average combined with an excellent, soul-purifying locale, Rose Canyon Cantina and Grill earns a very solid four Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Continue the journey by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Taco Rosa New Location Revealed

Taco Rosa - Second Location Coming

Elmo Monster of the Monster Munching blog has written to tell us that the spot for the second Taco Rosa has been identified. It will be in the spot formerly occupied by the Koo Koo Roo/Fuddruckers in the Irvine Market Place. After going to the original Taco Rosa earlier today for lunch (had some excellent ribeye tacos) I went to the new location and took some photos. A sign on the door says to enquire at tacorosa.com for employment opportunities. The new location is expected to open in February. As always, check back here for more updates.

UPDATE (January 18, 2007):

The print edition of the Irvine World News today reported that this second Taco Rosa location will be opening the first week of March.

Taco Rosa - Second Location Coming #2

Friday, November 17, 2006

Super Mex - The UnReview

Date of Visit: November 13, 2006
Super Mex
19684 Beach Blvd
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
(714) 964-1828

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Super Mex - Exterior

Here's the review that proves that doing a restaurant review requires plenty of concentration, psyching yourself up to focus on and pay attention to the task at hand, and forcing your social life to take a backseat to your amateur food blogging endeavors. I did none of those things on this visit. There was so much going on with the crowd that concentration flew out the window and focus on food dissipated into and mingled with the cold night fog. I could hardly even pay attention to the menu to figure out what to order and ended up just ordering a large bowl of albondigas soup while playing Hangman with the kid next to me on the back of her kids menu with the crayons provided (those crayons break way too easily). In addition to myself, Marissa, Avalon, Kobe, Cashel, Holly, Kim, Mike (the self-proclaimed "wannabe Mexican gearhead"), David Martin, Andrea, Ian, and a few others were there. We utilized the outside seating and put five tables together in an 'L' shape. We were even visited by a kid dressed as Batman (not joking, he was just too elusive for my camera) who was not part of our group. When I checked the photos on my camera the next night I saw how random they really were.

Super Mex - Kids Menu

One of the signatures of Super Mex is the fact that you make your own chips by "chipping" off segments from a deep-fried whole corn tortilla. In fact, this is how tortilla chips originally came about. They weren't always molded by machines into neat triangles, circles, or rectangles . . . or bowls for that matter.

Super Mex - Tortillas for Chips

Super Mex does score some points for having Orange Bang! to drink.

Here's the remaining shots in thumbnail size:

Super Mex - Super Mex - Super Mex -
Super Mex - Super Mex - Super Mex -

I'm going to withhold rating Super Mex until I can do a proper review. Another angle on Super Mex can be read at the New Diner blog.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Man Doth Not Live on Mexican Food Alone

From time to time I like to present evidence that I don't just eat Mexican food, it just happens to be the only kind I blog about . . . for the most part. Last week I met up with the "food gang" at Pagolac in Westminster. "Elmo Monster" wrote about it at his Monster Munching blog while "ChubbyPanda" (hey, I think I need a cool nickname, too; maybe I'll start using my old rap nickname of "DJ Snicker Rap Monster") wrote about it at his Epicurious Wanderer blog. (Joy & Carter and "Beach" were also active participants.) What they were both polite enough to not mention is that I was kept at work late and finally arrived just as everyone else was finishing up but "Beach" insisted that I still get all seven courses of beef the restaurant offers. Once the courses started coming Elmo and CP began circling around me snapping pictures from every conceivable angle so that I felt like I was in a professional photo shoot. I think my grey, vaguely 80's-ish, striped shirt can be seen in one of their pictures. It turned out to be a great visit and food lover meetup all around.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Chronic Cantina - Review #1

Date of Visit: November 4, 2006
Chronic Cantina
1870 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 646-0227

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STOP!! If you are looking for information on Chronic Tacos then Click Here!!!.


Chronic Cantina - Banner

Chronic Cantina is to Chronic Taco what Taco Rosa is to Taco Mesa: the more elite flagship restaurant of a small, laid back Orange County Mexican food chain. Except that Chronic Cantina has way more big screen TVs than Taco Rosa, possibly even more big screens than all the Mexican restaurants I've been to combined. I think it's impossible to sit anywhere in Chronic Cantina's large open air seating area and not be able to see one of their big screen TVs broadcasting all the sporting events you could hope for. I didn't count them but I think someone estimated there could be 40 there.

Chronic Cantina - Open Air Seating

You can find Chronic Cantina on the upper level of Triangle Square (never realized until now what an odd name that is for a shopping center - it's a triangle and a square?) on Harbor and 19th in Costa Mesa. This center was all the rage when it opened in '93 or '94 but slowly died down as merchants like Nike Town and Virgin Records and some sort of virtual reality laser tag game moved away. Chronic Cantina seems to be infusing some of the life back into the place. I'm pretty sure the chronically scantily clad waitresses help bring in a lot of male customers.

Chronic Cantina - Big Screen TVs


Chronic Cantina - More TVs


Chronic Cantina - Fire Pit


Chronic Cantina - Menu

Chronic Cantina is not just about watching sports. Did I mention they also have Mexican food? The menu mentions that they use third generation recipes for their food. I ordered a grilled garlic shrimp taco and a carnitas torta a la carte and together they made a great lunch. The taco was stuffed so full I had to eat a lot of the filling out with my fork before I could attempt to pick the rest up and eat in a proper taco eating manner.

Chronic Cantina - Carnitas Torta


Chronic Cantina - Grilled Garlic Shrimp Taco

They also seem to have a MySpace Profile, although I'm not sure if it's official. They might also be the only Mexican food chain that was spun off from a clothing brand, but, hey, that's the county we live in and that's where I'm stayin'.

The service from my waitress (Danielle?) was excellent and I had a nice chat with the owner, Mike Biello, who was quite affable. Chronic Cantina earns a four Speedy Gonzales rating:

Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales