Taco Maria, Costa Mesa
According to Jonathan Gold's list of 100 best restaurant in Los Angeles, Taco Maria is ranked at the second top. The man behind Taco Maria is chef Carlos Salgado who opened this place in 2013 summer after his success in restaurant Coi and Commis in the Bay Area in San Francisco. I loved Mexican food but rarely find any statisfying ones after i left the United States after high school, Mexican food or even a small taco place was a must-do on my list. I was quite curious about how good is Taco Maria as it beated all other fancier restaurants in LA. Taco Maria is not in downtown LA, my friend and i stopped by there for a quick lunch before heading to the South Coast Plaza for shopping. This little gem was unexpected popular and we waited for half an hour for a table on a weekday.
Address: 3313 Hyland Ave, Ste C-21, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Hours: Tue- Sat 11am-2:30pm; 5:30-9:30pm; Sunday brunch 10 am-3pm; closed on Mondays
We started with a ceasar salad and Hokkaido scallop ceviche. The salad was nicely mixed with fresh and crunchy lettuce, the bottom part was slightly salty for us. Hokkaido scallop ceviche was very fresh and tender, blended with the citrus dressing which nicely opened our taste buds.
Different from most the taco places, chef Carlos Salgado uses blue maize corn from Mexico for his tortillas. There were five kinds of tacos on the menu during our visit: fish, mushrrom, pork, chicken, and beef. We two girld ordered two of each besides the pork taco.
The blue corn tortillas is not that thin as the traditonal tortillas, but its real taste and deep 'corny' flavor definitely made it up. Pescado Frito (black cod) was well fried which has a crunch crust and juicy inside. Jardineros, or mushroom taco, too was crispy while the flavor could be slightly stronger in comparison the other tacos we tried.
The most popular item on the taco menu was the Mole de Pollo, which is a chicken taco of well-prepared Jidori chicken and ancho-almond mole. he chicken was surprsingly tender and matches well with tqueso fresco and onion pickles. My favorite among four.
Also, the hanger steak taco Arrachera was also memerable - succulent and flavorful meat with a slice of crispy applewood bacon, great textures and flavors that directly beated my heart.
We really loved the food at Taco Maria especially the tacos. It is hard to judge whether it fits its position at top two because i haven't been to most other restaurants on the top 100 list. The list is just a guide, what i expected more is the really delicious food and satisfying experiences at all these 100 restaurants, at least Taco Maria did it :)