Taco Maria Extending Hours To Brunch And Late Nights

Anne Marie Panoringan

If you know me, then you know that the way to my heart is through my favorite meal. So when I learned that Carlos Salgado was not only extending hours, but including Sunday brunch, I made time to visit their first service. While Edwin is the official restaurant reviewer, I have no problem admitting that my meal was epic. Okay, and a bit overindulgent.

Late-night tacos occur on Tuesdays and Wednesdays inside The OC Mix. I'll go over the details, but the bulk of this post will be brunch-related.

Served from 5:30 - 9:30 p.m. on two nights only, Taco Maria's a la carte selections include cool gazpacho soup, a little gem Caesar, charales surf smelt and torreados-- charred padron peppers with almond and pork powder. Salgado's handmade tortillas cradle each pair of tacos, ranging from $13 for shiitake mushroom choizo (Jardineros) to $16 for hanger steak (Arrachera). My bets are on a Jidori chicken with ancho-almond mole or his local black cod with Concord grape. While this special is higher than most taco deals, if you've ever dined here, you'll know the precision involved in the preparation and plating of every order. It's no wonder they ranked at the top of our Top 100 list last year.

Okay, back to brunch! Their three-course special is currently served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays only. These hours may vary based on response to the new menu, so call ahead to confirm. At $32, you are given a duo of options for each course. To start, a choice of molletes or melones con chile. I was torn between uniform cubes of watermelon, canteloupe and honeydew and my excuse to have carbs. Black beans and queso on sourdough, plus sides of huitlacoche butter and roasted tomato spread made it a hard habit to break. We were given control of our fruit medley as well-- with lime wedges, chile flakes and salt to garnish (Although the honey and yogurt already incorporated throughout made them yummy, as-is).

Sweet treat to start
Sweet treat to start
Anne Marie Panoringan

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The kitchen chose my next two adventures since I could not decide. Of the peachy ricotta pancakes with thyme maple syrup and a warm bowl of heirloom grits, I was smitten by savory corn. Prepared with vanilla butter and a roasted fig topping, I couldn't stop. I would consume this seemingly simple pudding every day if I could, as it warmed and comforted with each creamy spoonful. This was proof that all grits are not created equal, because I generally do not enjoy them.

For my final course, it was a choice between steak huevos rancheros with crema and poached eggs or chilaquiles. With chilaquiles, there was an additional option of either mushroom chorizo or rich chicken confit. Our opening photograph was the chicken version, with fried eggs and queso fresco crowning braised chips and a smoky chile cascabel. While I dug in with gusto, it was quickly apparent that I was no match for it, especially after the two previous rounds. I was definitely going to have a food coma, but I didn't care.

If there was a criticism, it would be that my brunch was the perfect size . . .to be shared. In fact, I offered some of my molletes to the person next to me while she awaited her meal. I thoroughly enjoyed my Sunday excursion, but will you? YES!

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Taco Maria

3313 Hyland Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626



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