Strange but true: Before I got into college, the only part of Orange County I knew besides my hometown of Anaheim and Fullerton was a one-mile radius around the intersection of Imperial Highway and Stage College Boulevard. Everything I needed in my high school life was there: The Brea Mall, Craig Regional Park to make out with girls, Borders for books, Bobby McGee’s to stare at MILFs, and an Edwards Cinema for art-house films. Foodwise, though, there was nothing. That’s changed over the past 20 years, and the boldest restaurant in the area is Tempo Urban Kitchen, an Alta California Mexican place packed from lunch through dinner. Greeting you as you open its heavy doors is an impressive tequila collection and a massive cocktail list. The bartenders do good work here, but I’m particular to the Carrera.
Start with a base of Bulleit bourbon, and I’m sold. Throw in orange bitters and I’m in love. Add the Spanish Licor 43—thick and vanilla-y and just slightly fruity—and Carrera (“Race” in habla) turns into a Hispanic take on a Manhattan. But what ties everything together is, of all things, a sprinkle of cinnamon. The spice adds a depth that opens up all the other flavors, creating something sweet enough for dessert but strong enough for any hombre. Good job, Tempo—you’re SO much better than The Hat...
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Tempo Urban Kitchen, 1060 Imperial Hwy., Brea, (714) 529-2900; tempourbankitchen.com