By Keith Plocek
By Edwin Goei
By Edwin Goei
By Matt Coker
By Edwin Goei
By Dave Mau
By Gustavo Arellano
You Got Your Chimichurri On My Tacos!
306 W. Fourth St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Region: Santa Ana
To survive, Latino restaurants in OC usually serve their homeland’s treats alongside Mexican food—the latter uninspired, bland but necessary entrées considering wabs constitute about three-quarters of the county’s Latino population. That’s why it’s a pleasant shock that Chimichurri, an Argentine dive on Santa Ana’s Fourth Street, offers some of the better tacos in this most-Mexican of towns. They cost 99 cents, just sneaking in under the $1 line that so many taquerías violate in these recessionary days, and are big—this ain’t a Taquería de Anda rip-off. They only prepare carne asada, chicken, carnitas and al pastor for meat options, but that’s fine: You can trust Argentines with meat the way Brits once trusted Gurkhas to defend the Empire. And who knew Argies knew their way around salsa? The kind waiters bring a trio of containers to your table upon request—a searing green variety, a spicy bright-orange version stuck halfway between habanero and chile de arbol on the flavor scale, and their namesake condiment, oily and refreshing with a smidgen of spice. You haven’t experienced fusion grub until you’ve slathered chimichurri on carne asada.
The tacos are the only worthwhile part of Chimichurri’s Mexi-menu; the other entrées taste fine but are a bit too costly. So stop in when the taco urges hit, or concentrate on their Argentine dishes. It’s not as thorough an examination of the cuisine as can be found at Regina’s in Garden Grove or Villa Roma in Laguna Hills, but Chimichurri finds room for rarities: fugazza, an Argentine-Italian pizza characterized by layers of sliced onions marinated with olive oil, and the simple choripan, a median between a hot dog and a sub, with crispy Italian bread taking the place of a roll and sweet, snappy Argentine sausage for the hot dog. I’m not sure why they list hamburgers and hot dogs as Argentine dishes, but whatever: both, please.
I like the empanadas—chicken bits and ground beef stuffed inside sweet, flaky casing and bigger than their $1.50 price tag would suggest—and the lomito sandwiches, stacked with slices of beef tenderloin, as perfect a picnic meal as the miga (crustless double-layered white bread layered with cheese, tomatoes and mayo). And the crumbly milanesa, combined in a roll with ham, is as rich a sandwich as you’ll chomp anywhere outside Little Saigon. Hopefully, Chimichurri can eventually make its own desserts, but what is there to argue about when slices of quince pie and alfajores as large as flattened hamburger wait at the counter?
Chimichurri, 306 W. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 480-0516.
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