With its white tile interior, dark wood accents, and chefs wearing selvage denim shirts, Carlos Salgado’s restaurant, Taco Maria, fits right in at Costa Mesa’s OC Mix, a rustic-mod cluster of businesses that is one of the county’s antidotes to ’80s commercial malls. I like to come down here from L.A. and sit at the counter, eat, and watch the cooks work.
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Another favorable review!
Name: Restaurant Marin, named after co-owner Marín Howarth. She and her husband, chef Noah Blom (he worked at Daniel in New York City), are also the duo behind Arc restaurant next door. Restaurant Marin opened in April.
Concept: The restaurant, located at the South Coast Collection shopping center in Costa Mesa, bills itself as a modern-day diner. So there’s chicken pot pie, a fried chicken sandwich, pancakes, a patty melt and meatloaf on the menu — but it’s all more elaborate than what you would expect. Almost everything is sprinkled with pink salt before it leaves the kitchen. And instead of laminated menus and greasy booths, your food is served in a beautiful, intimate space outfitted with tabletops made of sea glass, distressed mirrors, chandeliers and short plush blue booths that curve ever so slightly at the ends. Howarth also designed the space.
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(Photo By Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)
This might well give Orange County cooks pause: “We’ve had a wonderful 5-1/2 years in Corona del Mar,” says Savory Spice Shop owner Laura Shute, when asked about the June 19 closing of her Newport Beach location.
But, no worries! Shute’s merely consolidating her stores, and little-but-mighty sister Savory Spice Stop in Costa Mesa’s The OC Mix will carry on as usual for all your herb, spice, and seasoning needs. So, no break in the spice supply chain. I’m as glad as anyone else, since I’m very partial to Savory Spice’s Santa Maria-style seasoning for grilled tri-tip—so good in my Viet-Central Coast mashup banh mi.
Another favorable mention for our tenant!
I’m sitting on the patio enjoying my morning cup of coffee, watching a butterfly stumble through the jasmine-scented breeze, admiring the crystal chandeliers overhead. Gotan Project, a French band, plays softly on the stereo. The singing is in French, so I can’t understand a word of it, but it’s a soothing rhythm that makes me smile. It puts me in a vacation sort of mood.
“What’s a ‘Bunni breakfast?’” I ask the waitress, who also happens to be one of the owners.
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Another recognition for our favorite Taco place:
Heirloom-Blue-Corn Tacos: Taco María, Costa Mesa, California
Mall food conjures visions of bad stir-fry and soft pretzels. That is definitely not what Carlos Salgado, who trained at Coi and Commis, is doing at his Chicano restaurant inside Orange County’s shopping mecca, the OC Mix. He sources heirloom blue corn from Mexico, hand-presses tortillas, and stuffs them with everything from stone fruits and pork cheeks to chicken in ancho-almond mole. From $13.
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Once again, I have found another terrific restaurant at SoCo. This one is called Restaurant Marin, named after the chef’s wife.
The chef is Noah Blom and he is the creator of Arc, which is next door to Marin. That restaurant cooks everything in a wood fired oven or a wood fired grill. Marin will also use the wood fired ovens and wood fired grill, but the cooking temperature will be lower so they can do seafood as well as other offerings.
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