Feb 2016

Brunch at Taco María – Costa Mesa

Taco María - Costa Mesa

My initial reaction to Jonathan Gold naming Taco María in Orange County the second best restaurant in Los Angeles was, “Wait, what?” My second reaction was, “I gotta get a reservation.”

Taco María - Costa Mesa

Chef Carlos Salgado opened the restaurant in the summer of 2013 following stints cooking in the Bay Area at Coi and Commis and running a food truck by the same name in Orange County. Serving Chicano Cuisine, Taco María’s menu is market-driven, modern, and well… Mexican.

While dinner would’ve been the ideal scenario to experience Chef Salgado’s cooking, Sunday brunch was a better fit for the Astro-Gastro family’s schedule. We met up with my O.C.-dwelling friend Courtney and her family to feast.

Taco María - Costa Mesa

Brunch, which is served only on Sundays, is a three-course pre-fixe affair priced at $36.

To start, both The Astronomer and I zeroed in on the molletes, grilled bread slathered with refried beans and topped with crumbles of queso fresco.

Taco María - Costa Mesa

What made the molletes even better was the accompanying salsa tatemada (charred salsa) and huitlacoche (corn smut) butter. This was an all around killer starter.

Taco María - Costa Mesa

For the second course, The Astronomer and I ordered one of each of the offerings.

The oatmeal, warm, comforting, and slow-roasted, was topped with vanilla butter, ember strawberries, cream, and lime zest. The combination of sticky preserves and fresh zest was swoon-worthy.

Taco María - Costa Mesa

Also great were the buttermilk pancakes with stewed apples, whipped butter, and maple syrup. The composition was straightforward, while the execution was solid.

Taco María - Costa Mesa

For our final course, we shared the chilaquiles and the huevos pescador.

The former—crispy, mole-soaked tortillas served with grilled hanger steak, pickled onions, and queso cotija—was certainly tasty but quite possibly too prettily composed. I prefer my chilaquiles homey and a little on the messy side, if you know what I mean.

Taco María - Costa Mesa

The huevos pescador—Dungeness crab, toasted brioche, poached egg, avocado, and shellfish hollandaise—were rich and the proper amount of pretty.

Brunch at Taco María was truly excelente.

Taco Maria
3313 Hyland Avenue, Suite C-21
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Phone: 714-538-8444

It turns out, there’s more than just Disneyland, doughnuts, and Vietnamese food in Orange County:

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One thought on “Brunch at Taco María – Costa Mesa

  1. Hmm, have walked by that place plenty but never given it a chance. Maybe it’s time to do just that… 🙂 In that same center there’s a equally swoon worthy place called Pueblo that does spanish type tapas. Check it out of you are so inclined to be in the same area again.

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