After the popularity of Anabella and Salvador Corona?s first El Pollo Norteno restaurant in Santa Ana, they began to expand to more locations, each of which serves healthy, homestyle Mexican food. Mesquite charcoal heightens the flavors of charbroiled-chicken dishes, and catering trays liven up parties otherwise filled with awkward silences. Family packs of dinners, along with tacos, burritos, and quesadillas a la carte, feed the entire family.
Settle into the capacious dining area and notice how the colors on the walls perfectly match the salsa, likely meaning it's possible to dip chips in the walls. Snap back to reality and get to appetizing with a pair chicken or steak flautas with chipotle dipping sauce ($6.35) or some carnitas nachos ($4.95). Big burritos comprise the core of the menu—nab the steak species to taste queso fresco and grilled bell pepper ($7.95), the fish to taste chimayo tartar and mahimahi ($7.95), or the California veggie with zucchini and avocado to keep it strictly unmeaty ($5.70). If you prefer unwrapped eats, opt for a shrimp taco ($3.50), the cheese enchiladas ($5.95), or a combination of entrees ($8.99+). Those dining during dinner will receive a free flan for dessert.
A burger, a hotdog, and chili are usually separate meals, but not at Spoons Grill & Bar. Its Macho Burger is a combination of all three: a beef patty topped with a split hotdog, a heap of chili, some cheese, and barbecue sauce for good measure. However, it's a meaty diversion from the rest of Spoons' Tex Mex?style menu, which is focused on tacos and sizzling fajitas. While diners dig into such feasts, Spoons' giant high-def TVs air sporting events. Those just visiting Santa Ana, meanwhile, can order meals delivered straight to their hotel rooms daily until 10 p.m., meaning they won't have to eat the complimentary bars of soap.
At El Zocalo Mexican Steakhouse, the sounds of sizzling shrimp and chicken fajitas mingle with the horns and strumming guitars of banda and mariachi music. Servers add sight and smell to the sensory party by carting out colorful plates of parillada meat grills. The menu's grilled meats complement a sizable selection of seafood—lobster and salmon, to name a couple. But they also pair nicely with refreshing provisions such as cocktails and buckets of beer sourced from a 21-and-over sandbox.
Mariscos La Nueva Ola not only livens up palates, but ears and eyes as well. On weekends, live mariachi bands blast horns and strum strings in the glow of the dining room's hand-painted murals. These festive touches—and special events such as karaoke—lure guests to the multicolored scene. But it's the Mexican menu's emphasis on quality seafood that keeps them returning.