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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rubio's Crispy Shrimp


Rubio's has brought back its crispy shrimp available in tacos and burritos with or without mango salsa. I just tried a crispy shrimp mango taco at lunch, comboed it for $2.00 (adds beans, chips, and a soda - yes, they still have Vanilla Coke), and used a coupon from the Register to add a free fish taco to my meal. Total came to $4.62. Not bad!


For the last week or so the Register has included a different Rubio's coupon in the paper every day (attached to a poster with a hockey star on it). I believe this will continue for about four more days.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Yucatan Grill - Review #1

Date of Visit: January 5, 2008
Yucatan Grill
550 Pacific Coast Hwy
Seal Beach, CA 90740
(562) 430-4422

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Appetizer: Chips and Salsa and Yucatan Pepita Dip
Appetizer #2: Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings
Entree: Yucatan Shrimp Skewers
Dessert: Deep-fried Ice Cream

Yucatan Grill - Sign

I've mentioned a couple times before that there was a handful of Mexican restaurants I'd visited in 2005 that inspired me to start this blog. Yucatan Grill was one of them but ironically it has taken me over two years since starting the blog to get back there for review purposes (here's the Register article that tipped me off to the place).

Yucatan Grill - Shopping Center

Yucatan Grill's address indicates that it is on PCH but really it is in the back part of a big one-building shopping center that itself is behind a McDonalds that faces PCH, so when you see the view shown in the photo above you still have to go to the back of this building to get to Yucatan Grill.

Yucatan Grill - Exterior


Yucatan Grill - Indoor Patio

Now the Yucatan Grill has mostly what we think of as "traditional Mexican" food with a few items on their menu that have a Carribean influence, such as the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings. These are advertised on the menu as being very hot. When my friend and I ordered them we found out they weren't that spicy hot . . . until we dipped them in the accompanying sauce and then we were both breathing fire. These wings have even been featured in the Register before.

Yucatan Grill - Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings

Like the chicken wings another appetizer that was on special during the happy hour was the Yucatecan Pepita Dip:

Yucatan Grill - Yucatan Pepita Dip

This dip, which is based around roasted pumpkin seeds, struck me as Mexican version of hummus. It was good and good for dipping chips in but, being a little on the pasty side, it helped to also dip the chips into a little salsa (which itself was a great combination of refreshing and robust and chunky). It was also very rich and even though it looks they only gave us a small amount it was still hard to eat the whole thing up. In fact, we didn't finish it but not because we didn't like it.

Yucatan Grill - Parrots

My entree was the Yucatan Shrimp Skewers served with beans, Mexican rice (cooked with peas and carrots and I believe some mustard powder), and a little salad:

Yucatan Grill - Yucatan Shrimp Skewers

With a tasty, subtly flavored glaze and firm textured shrimp roasted to perfection I could see these winning over even non-shrimp fans.

Chris P., the carnitas fiend, stayed true to his roots by ordering the carnitas burrito and loved it, but, once again, all burritos look pretty much the same from the outside:

Yucatan Grill - Carnitas Burrito

Chris went for the tres leches:

Yucatan Grill - Tres Leches Cake

While I went for the deep-fried ice cream, which might now be up in my top three of deep-fried ice creams (gets points for no nuts in the crust and using chocolate chip ice cream):

Yucatan Grill - Deep-fried Ice Cream

As usual, we couldn't sample all the food, not even the Yucatecan staple of cochinita pibil (offered only on Saturday nights). That's what makes this blog so fun. It's a never-ending culinary adventure with new horizons to explore ever presenting themselves.

Yucatan Grill earns a 4.25 Speedy Gonzales rating:

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See the whole photo album at

Roundup #15

Here's another entry where I cover some stuff that doesn't fit neatly into a standard Mexican restaurant review. If this is your first time here just keep scrolling down for our restaurant reviews.

Ordered some Taco Standups and finally tried them out recently when I made some quick shrimp tacos:

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These things work great! View the whole photo album of my shrimp taco mini-dinner at flickr.



Got quoted on the front page of the Register today, presumably only the print edition. Had been contacted by their Fast Food Maven for a quote about the whole tax rebate thing and what I would do with mine so I fired off a quick quote but had no idea it'd end up on the front page. A snippet of my quote was used. The whole quote I had submitted said, "This may not be a cure for world hunger or the end to America's economic woes but, generally speaking, the more people can keep their own money and not have to pay it out towards taxes the better (yes, we do need some taxation to keep society running). I suppose the government primarily wants the rebates to be injected into retail and maybe some put towards savings so here's my breakdown: $310 to fix the broken passenger window on my car, $200 student loan payment, $50 to savings, $20 towards a good book, and $20 towards a good meal at Taco Rosa."



Mexican places I've eaten at for non-review purposes since the last roundup entry include: Del Taco, Rubio's, Taco Bell, El Pollo Loco (hitting all the fast food places first), Acapulco (an L.A. County location), Baja Fresh (tried their new Big Beef and Potato Burrito), La Rana (added pictures to the first review), Taco Rosa, Rancho del Zocalo, Mario's, Azteca's, Chipotle, Taco Adobe (where I had an excellent pozole verde), Tortilla Jo's, Taleo, Javier's, Wahoo's, and El Farolito.

Non-Mexican places I've eaten at since the last roundup entry include: the deli at Gelson's, Johnny Rockets, Daphne's Greek Cafe, the commissary at the DreamWorks Animation campus, The Counter, Fuddrucker's, Sagami Tei, The Corner Bakery, NYC Cafe, Pat & Oscar's, Maui Wowi (sort of Starbucks and Jamba Juice get married and honeymoon to Hawaii), Nalu's Island Grill, In-n-Out, Chick-Fil-A, Panda Express, Souplantation, Market Broiler, J&J's House of Subs, Bubba Gump, Mustard Cafe, Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen (had an excellent black and white chocolate bread pudding), Lee's Sandwiches, Shimura, and King's Fish House.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

El Conejo, RIP

Unfortunately we have another closure to announce. The Register's Irvine Retail Blog has reported that El Conejo in Irvine has closed down. The entry states that it was because of slowing business. It always seemed busy when I went so I wonder how much business it takes for a restaurant to survive. No word on if the smaller El Conejito has closed down too but I'll presume it's still open until I hear otherwise. UPDATE: It has been confirmed that all other locations are still open for business.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Taco Rosa January 2008 Specials


Click HERE to read ALL our extensive coverage of Taco Rosa. This is the link to follow to see tons of pictures of Taco Rosa's food. Also includes links to their official site, addresses for both their locations and more.

Here's the specials for the month of January at both Taco Rosa locations:

tacorosa95

Soup

Caldo Tlalpeño
"Homemade chicken soup with garbanzo beans and red and green peppers. Served with Mexican rice, avocado slices, and a touch of chipotle."

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Entrees

Filete Relleno
"Beef tenderloin pounded and rolled with ham, potatoes, cheese, and peppers. Wrapped in bacon and smothered in our chipotle-caldino suace. Served with arroz del dia, black beans, and guacamole."

Filete Relleno
Pez Espada
"Charbroiled swordfish presented fajitas-style, with green and red peppers, and onions, topped with a tampiqueña garlic sauce. Served with arroz del dia, black beans, and guacamole."

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Dessert

Crepas de Cajeta
"Cajeta caramel in four folded homemade crepes, accompanied with vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate."

Taco Rosa - Crepas de Cajeta


Taco Rosa - Crepas de Cajeta

Be sure to check the specials board and ask your server about variations in the specials offered each day. The items mentioned here will generally be available throughout the remainder of January 2008 but there may be slight variations from day to day. Here's one item that is sort of a secret special for the month of January:
Medaliones de Filete
"Two beef tenderloin medallions charbroiled and smothered in a green tomatillo sauce with potatos and black beans."

Taco Rosa - Medaliones de Filete

Click on the 'taco rosa' label below for tons of information on both locations including dozens of photos, address and contact information, and links to their official site.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Albatros - Review #1

Albatros Mexican Food
23591 Rockfield Blvd. #G
Lake Forest, CA 92630
(949) 859-9600

Across from the Captain Creams Shopping Center, facing the north side of The Hat.

No known official website.
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I recently found out about a new food blog on the block called Griffin Eats OC and its most recent review is about a new Mexican restaurant in Lake Forest. I wish I could go to every Mexican restaurant in the county every day. Well, not really, but there's still only so much one person can do so I asked Griffin if I could reprint his review of Albatros and he kindly gave his permission. So without further ado:


I recently visited the brand new Albatros Mexican Food in Lake Forest. Although they have a bird on their sign, I got the impression that they were trying to make people think that they were an "Albertos." This place is tucked away in a tiny strip mall. The location has had so may different tenants recently that I didn't think that anyplace could survive here. Until now.

I went to Albatros with high hopes and wasn't disappointed. I have only tried one item so far, the carne asada burrito ($3.50), but I was really impressed at both the quality of the burrito and the cost. I watched as the cook took a large portion of fresh beef and threw it on the grill. The small pieces of beef quickly cooked with a few tosses of his spatula. The cook then threw a giant flour tortilla on the grill, removed it and put some oniony guacamole on it and then filled the tortilla with the beef and rolled it. No rice, no beans, just meat and guacamole. An all meat burrito for $3.50? Unheard of! It was also actually so large that I couldn't even finish the whole thing! The meat was tender, but a little under seasoned for my tastes. I would have liked a little more of a citrusy flavor. It wasn't bad at all though.

Their salsa was very watery and not very spicy. Another guy from my office got their carnitas burrito. It too was all meat and guacamole, and he enjoyed it very much as well. I look forward to returning to Albatros soon to try their other menu items like Tortas ($2.75 ham, beef, chicken, chorizo-$3.00 carne asada, carnitas) Tacos ($1.90-$2.25) Enchiladas ($3.40) and more. I hope they don't raise their prices soon though. I can't believe how cheap some of their stuff is!

Read the complete entry at Griffin's blog: Griffin Eats OC

UPDATE (April 9, 2013): Here's some pictures I (Christian) took at Albatros when I finally made it there myself a few days ago:

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Click any one of them to be taken to the complete flickr photo album.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Carl's Jr. Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Burrito


"Scrambled eggs, refried beans, shredded Jack and cheddar cheeses, crisp tortilla strips and Ranchero sauce wrapped in a warm flour tortilla."

Carl's Jr. has had this item for a month or two now but the recent death of chain founder Carl Karcher spurred me on to finally trying it. Everybody else at the location I went to this morning seemed to be ordering it too (although the Mexican food lover inside me got a little disturbed when one girl asked for ketchup for it and had this look on her face that clearly indicated that she had no idea what "salsa" was). Devoted readers of the blog here know of my love for huevos rancheros and Carl's has just made huevos rancheros a little easier to eat when you're on the run.

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CLICK HERE for a Coupon

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pepe's - Review #1

Pepe's Finest Mexican Food
821 N Placentia Ave
Fullerton, CA 92831
(714) 528-9291

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Pepe's - Sign

Here we have a new review from Johnny Automatic of Pepe's in Fullerton. People seem to be searching for information on Pepe's all the time and now we have a review to fill that need:

Pepe's is a small chain with 4 locations - Brea, Anaheim, Fullerton and Downey. This is a review covering two trips I recently made to the Fullerton location. This family enterprise has been in business since 1962, but not at this location. My wife remembers it from her college days when it was a Naugles. There is a large painted wall inside that tells the Pepe's story. It's a very popular spot and handles crowds of people efficiently. As you can see they also have drive-thru service. So if you need a fast Mexican food fix you can go to Pepe's instead of one of the big corporate chains.


Pepe's - Drive-Thru

Every time I have eaten here there are CHP patrolmen, so you'll probably be safe. I always think if law enforcement is eating someplace then it probably has good hearty fare for a good price and it's probably unlikely you'll get food poisoning. Just my pet theory.


Pepe's - #4 Combo; Beef Enchiladas

Here's a picture of the #4 combo. This is a favorite of my friend's. It is 2 ground beef enchiladas. The enchiladas are a pretty straightforward version. Good flavors but nothing distinct. They have about 15 different full combos. They run $6.50 to $7.00. You can see that the combos come with rice, beans, chips and guacamole. They also serve burritos which you can get for about $4.00 and if you want them "wet" it will run you another $1.79. They have a number of a la carte items too. Breakfast is served all day.


Pepe's - #1 Plate; Green Chile Pork

I ordered the #1 plate, green chile pork. Even though the chile sauce doesn't look that green it is definitely made with green chiles and has great flavor. It's a good, rib-sticking and satisfying dish. I like the addition of guacamole to all the combos. You can see they added the hot sauce squeeze bottle to my tray. How did they know I like it hot? The dishes are generally mild but the regulars all seem to get the squeeze bottle and spice it up to their liking.


Pepe's - Cheese Enchiladas

My wife went a la carte and just had two cheese enchiladas. They lack a certain appeal served this way. Melted fat from the cheese floats on top of the thin sauce and the whole thing is a swimming soupy mess. The flavor was one dimensional but my wife liked it better with some of the hot sauce.


Pepe's - Carne Asada Burrito

When I went with my wife, I ordered the all meat carne asada burrito. Fresh salsa is the only addition to this meat-filled beast. The carne asada is almost certainly not grilled over coals but on a fast food grill. That aside, the flavor on their carne asada is just great. It is well seasoned with a strong shot of black pepper. Maybe closer to pepper steak than true carne asada but I love pepper steak and this was great. My wife eagerly agreed and said she'd order it herself next time.

(Special note to Christian: I know you love huevos rancheros. They serve them all day here and the guy next to me had them for lunch. They looked great!)

Even though my wife's cheese enchilada experience wasn't the best, we still find a lot to like about Pepe's. For fast food Mexican they really offer up a good meal. If you like straightforward traditional Mexican food at a good price and served fast then you can't go wrong here. 4 Speedys:


Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales Speedy Gonzales

Thanks, Johnny. I'll have to try the huevos rancheros there sometime and that beef enchilada plate looks great too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rasta Taco Opens Restaurant

Satisfy My Soul

I've written about Rasta Taco before and their taco cart catering services but they have now opened a bona fide walk-in restaurant. I'll write more about it once I make a visit there but for now their official press release follows:




For Immediate Release
Rasta Taco Holding Inc. announces the opening of the inaugural
Rasta Taco in Capistrano Beach (Dana Point) at:
26881 Camino De Estrella
Capistrano Beach, CA 92624
(949) 496-TACO
Open 7 days a week
7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Yahoo! Maps

Following on the heels of the tremendous success of its mobile taco cart operation, Rasta Taco launches its first reggae-inspired restaurant location idealizing Rasta Taco's founder Mario Melendez' dream. Rasta Taco Catering is still Southern California's premiere mobile taco cart catering company.

"We have a full menu for the entire family," says Founder Mario Melendez. "Our fast-take-out style restaurant combined with the Rasta Taco style motif will certainly please the palate as well as the senses."

The store, maintaining a very focused look true to both Jamaica/Rasta and Mexico, combines elements of Mexico and Jamaica culinary plates.

From the "Lee Scratch Breakfast Burrito" to the "Peter Burrito" to the "Pato Potato Taco" to the "Halie Salise Taco Salad," all are original plates made with Rasta Taco's signature blend of secret spices and marinades. Michael DeSimone, Partner and Head Chef, has over 10 years experience in the kitchen and his original recipes can be eaten at the Restaurant or enjoyed at home.

For more information, contact Rasta Taco at (949) 496-TACO or visit us at rastataco.com/capistranobeach for more information or rastataco.com/shop/catalog/ for our online menu. To book a catering party please visit us at rastataco.com.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Del Taco Breakfast

I realize this is the third Del Taco-related post in less than two weeks but a lot of people have been searching lately for information on breakfast at Del Taco. Del Taco has had a variety of breakfast burritos available for quite some time at reasonable prices and a couple years ago they added a breakfast quesadilla and more recently some locations began offering a "Big Fat Breakfast Taco." They also offer hashbrown sticks and orange juice or coffee to round out the morning menu which is available each day until 11am.



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Friday, January 11, 2008

Chipotle Opens in Lake Forest

Chipotle is having their grand opening today at The Arbor shopping center in Lake Forest on the southwest corner of El Toro & Rockfield.

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I stopped by at lunch and got the carnitas burrito bowl:

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Read more about Chipotle and this new location at the Fast Food Maven blog.

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