In addition to re-creating traditional recipes from across the border, Costa Messa Restaurant's chefs occasionally inject a bit of American flair into their menu of Mexican home cooking. This leads to time-honored classics?including chicken enchiladas topped with mole sauce and queso fresco and crispy flautas stuffed with shredded beef?appearing alongside Tex-Mex dishes, such as chalupas, rice, and beans served in the shape of a Longhorn.
Ever since originally opening in 2002, the restaurant has remained unwaveringly devoted to these distinctive flavors, adding spicy chipotle sauce to chicken fajitas, loading corn or flour tortillas with everything from pork to sirloin, and serving whole, ranchero-style red snappers. As a demonstration of its support for the community, Costa Messa Restaurant spends Mondays donating 10% of the proceeds from diners' checks to various charities.
Vicente, the resident chef at Gazpacho's by Las Tablitas, specializes in incorporating Mexican flavors into globally inspired dishes. In some cases, these are pretty straightforward—empanadas stuffed with sautéed spinach and caramelized onions, or shrimp tacos doused in chipotle sauce. But the remainder of his menu takes a more roundabout route to Mexican tastes. He fills savory crepes, for instance, with poblano peppers and corn, while his paninis sport ingredients such as grilled chicken, avocado, and herbed mayo. Each globetrotting feast unfolds amidst vibrant oil-painted canvases in a lively dining room, which fills with the upbeat sounds of live music every Friday.
Claiming a slew of awards, including Best Chicken Dinner by the Orange County Register, El Pollo Loco fills stomachs on the go with a menu of flavorful poultry inspired by Mexico's kitchens. Enjoy the rich tastes of a four-piece combo ($7.99)—including breasts and wings marinated in herbs, spices, and citrus juices—entouraged by two sides from an expansive selection, including spanish rice, barbecue black beans, corn cobbettes, and mac 'n' cheese. For a more portable lunch during parkour breaks from the office, wrap your chicken in the warm tortilla blanket of a twice-grilled burrito ($5.99). El Pollo Loco's innovative salsa bar can tickle to your tongue until milk comes out its nose with fresh varieties of avocado, chipotle, and pico de gallo.
Before the delicacies are composed at Grapevine Caf?, their ingredients are made from scratch in-house. This ranges from roasting and grinding Albisola Specialty Blends Coffee beans to crafting fresh tortillas. The latter are used to create huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos, and crab enchiladas, just some of the Mexican-style offerings that share menu space with Belgian waffles and chicken-fried-steak sandwiches. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available inside the cozy cafe, where complimentary WiFi encourages diners to stay a while and refill their espresso drinks.