100 OC Favorite Dishes, #37: Crab Jalapenos from Carmelita's Kitchen

Aye aye ayeEXPAND
Aye aye aye
Angel Grady

With so many of them, it's hard to find a decent Mexican restaurant that stands out from the rest, especially  in South County, where's people idea of "authentic" Mexican remains stuck in an El Torito circa 1983. But Carmelita's Kitchen in Rancho Santa Margarita shows promise of rising above the muck to become one of South County's precious few good Mexi spots. 

I've dined here twice, both times lingering over the menu, with the tough decision of what to savor. The one dish I couldn't pass up either visit was an appetizer of four large jalapeños stuffed with Dungeness crab, cream cheese and epazote, resting on a bed of lettuce and topped with shredded mozzarella cheese. "Authentic"? Probably not. "Delicious." Beyond. I usually can't convince my boyfriend to try anything new, but when he saw it was perfectly wrapped in crispy bacon, he was sold. But beware: these babies are spicy!

31441 Santa Margarita Pkwy., Rancho Santa Margarita, (949) 709-7600; carmelitaskitchen.com

The List:

38. Combo Plate at Punjabi Tandoor 
39. Crepe Cakes at TeaArias 
40. Bacon and Eggs at Break of Dawn
41. Combo Platter from The Halal Guys 
42. Sunflower Salad from PIE-NOT 
43. Watermelon Salad from Barley Forge Brewing Company 
44. Breakfast Burrito from Pedro's Tacos 
45. Salmon Toast from Haven Gastropub 
46. Croque Madame Sandwich at Café Beau Soleil 
47. Dean's Thai Curry Chicken Pizza 
48. Aguas Frescas at Mar and Terra
49. Bocatas at Olé! Spain Delishop 
50. Pan Con Pollo at El Divino Salvador Del Mundo 
51. Tacos al Vapor at Tito's La Especial 
52. Knafeh at Knafeh Cafe 
53. Yakiudon Nikkei at Aji Limon
54. Yakitori at Electric City Butcher
55. Tsukemen at Kitakata Ramen Ban Nai 
56. Ten Zaru Soba at Tanakaya 
57. Pink Cloud Sandwich at Alicia's Cookery 
58. Homemade Super Nachos at Taqueria Los Santos
59. Strawberry Banana Croissant at Cream Pan 
60. Pla Duk Phat Phet at Vientiane Thai Laos Restaurant 
61. Risotto Con Burrata at Taverna 
62. Pineapple Float at Jollibee 
63. Szechuan Fries at Wok N Tandoor 
64. Banh Xeo at Quan Mii 
65. Chanko Nabe at Torizo 
66. Hamshuka from Hummus Bowl 
67. The Reuben at A Market 
68. Everything Cake from Slice Deli And Cakery 
69. Spicy Shrimp And Eggplant from Brio Tuscan Grille
70. Crawfish Mac & Cheese from The Wharf
71. Malasadas from Dough Doughs Hawaiian Cafe 
72. Salsas from Salsa Bandolera 
73. Chorizo Breakfast Bagel at Spigas Bakery and Cafe 
74. Whole Chicken Combo at Falafelo  
75. Toothpick Lamb at Sichuan Impression 
76. Hainan Chicken Rice at Baos Hog 
77. Fruit- and Ice Cream-Topped Waffles at Crave 
78. Garlic Shrimp Poke at Costco 
79. Chimichurri Fries at Piaggo on Wheels 
80. Torta Cubana at Cancun Juice 
81. Adobo Bowl at Irenia 
82. Garlic Noodles at Krave Asian Fusion 
83. Broccolini at SeaSalt WoodFire Grill 
84. Spicy Tuna Roll at Yard House 
85. Amber Roll at Orange Roll and Sushi 
86. Frito Chili Cheeseburger at Burger Parlor 
87. Maui Sunrise at The Original Banzai Bowls 
88. Meals from The Performance Kitchen 
89. Pizza-Sized Quesadilla at Los Sanchez
90. Filipino Brunch at EATS Kitchen And Bar
91. Mexican Chocolate at the Pie Hole 
92. Biscuits at James Republic 
93. Mushroom Flatbread with Kale and Kumquat Salad at Lemonade 
94. Mexican-Style Gelatins from Santa Ana's Gelatina Goddess 
95. Hot Pastrami Caesar Salad at Bruxie
96. Jalapeño Pupusas at Las Cazuelas
97. Meatball Sliders at Fresh Brothers
98. Buffalo Cauliflower at Mead's Green Door Cafe
99. Raindrop Cake at Sunmerry Bakery
100. Doughrito at Surfin' Donuts


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