You cannot make everybody happy, a wise saying goes – you are not a taco. That said, we’ve found that some tacos can make people happier than others. Here are a few:
Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar
Los Olivos Marketplace
Distinctive Mexico City-inspired tacos at Puesto layer stone-ground blue-corn tortillas with crispy melted cheese and toppings.
Diners mix and match tacos such as the Filet Mignon, Tamarindo Shrimp and vegetarian Verduras.
“Each taco has its own toppings, marinades and salsas,” notes chef Luisteen Gonzalez, who oversees nine Puestos with “tacoteur” Eric Adler and Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur Alexander Adler.
“We speak fresh,” Gonzalez says in Spanish, then continues in English.
“When you work with great ingredients, and you do it with heart and passion, everything can be possible.”
The Market Place
Owner-chef Ivan Calderón has a zeal for ancestral recipes. “I am a native Mexican and very proud,” says Calderón, who has a half-dozen taco-driven, conscientiously sourced eateries. He adds his own nouvelle touches to the tacos.
Standouts include Chile Relleno Tacos – chilaca peppers stuffed with panela cheese and topped with spinach, zucchini, sweet pepper, and roasted corn – and, his favorite, Blackened Calamari Tacos with chipotle aioli.
Inspired by ancestral underground cooking, he offers an elaborate barbacoa blue-corn taco popup for special events; the beef is adobo-marinated overnight, wrapped in maguey leaves, seared, then cooked for 10 hours.
Tacos & Company
University Park Center and Sand Canyon Plaza
Soft taco or hard, small taco or Grandissimo ….
You’ve got choices at Tacos & Company. Six fast-casual spots include one at University Park Center, in its 25th year, and Sand Canyon Plaza, in its 10th year.
Michoacán-born owner Francisco Hernández ventures beyond regional Mexican fare.
“We’ve adapted,” Hernández says. “Irvine has large Indian and Middle Eastern communities. We offer shakahari dishes, stricter than vegan, and halal preparations when we cater.”
But most recipes haven’t changed. “My mom’s taco was simple – a corn tortilla smeared with beans, whatever meat and salsa fresca. That’s our Grande. The only difference is the customers put the salsa on themselves.”