MORE

Ten Great Mexican-American Combo Plates In Orange County

Sometimes we want regional Mexican food--corundas and pozole from Las Brisas de Apatzingán or thick, rich moles from El Moctezuma--and sometimes we just want the familiar old combination plate with its orangey rice and its goopy beans and its two enchiladas where the sauce runs into the other parts of the plate, or the thin flour tortillas that envelop carne asada with sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and pulpy tomato salsa.

Mexican-American food is still Mexican. That does not mean, however, that you need to sell your soul to the corporate sameness of Acapulco's or Chevy's; there are good Mex-Am combo plates and bad ones. Here are ten of the best.

As always, discussions and bashing in the comments section are welcome.

10. Avila's El Ranchito
Ten Great Mexican-American Combo Plates In Orange County
Avila's El Ranchito website


Yes, it's a chain, but it's a home-grown chain. Avila's has spread from South County all the way to the hallowed Orange Circle; the menu is full of all the usual Mexican-American specialties, but the secret is that they have the best caldo de pollo of any of the places on this list. Ask for an extra elote in yours.

9. La Casa Garcia
Ten Great Mexican-American Combo Plates In Orange County
Matt Coker


While La Casa Garcia is close to Disneyland, it's just far enough off Harbor that most tourists never see it; inside, it's a trip back in time. Order the flautas, and revel in the fact that you're sitting in one of OC's oldest Mexican restaurants, whose founding family give out hundreds of meals at Thanksgiving.

8. Molcasalsa

As the name implies, it doesn't really matter what you get here, just put lots of their excellent salsa--especially the green one--on it. The menu is similar to Alberto's, but just different enough to warrant its own spot on the list. The kicker? It's open 24x7--so you can get your fatty burrito on at 3 a.m. after you stumble out of the bars in downtown Fullerton.

 
7. Mexi-Casa
Ten Great Mexican-American Combo Plates In Orange County
Christian Ziebarth / Courtesy of OC Mexican Restaurants


Mexi-Casa is so old it's rumored to have been started by Father Serra on his church-planting stroll up the coast of northern Mexico. The prices haven't changed in forever, either, and it's far and away the cheapest combo plate. Stick with the usual: enchiladas, chiles rellenos, and tacos, and remember: drink refills are not free at Mexi-Casa, and it's strictly cash only. 

6. Mario's Fiesta Maya
Ten Great Mexican-American Combo Plates In Orange County
Christian Ziebarth / Courtesy of OC Mexican Restaurants


Mario's Fiesta Maya is the spiritual home of Bro-Mex, OC's own export of Mexican food. You already know what's on the menu, because it's on the menu everywhere, but instead of kitschy scenes of a Mexico that never existed, it's loud, brash, and full of people whose average age is about 22. It's as much Orange County as Disneyland, surfing the Wedge, and voting for old white Republican men.

5. Little Onion


Ever wonder what a Mexican restaurant circa 1978 looked like? That's Little Onion, a place where the enchiladas are as thin as masa-based crêpes, where the rice and beans are a slightly alarming color but taste like pure heaven, and where you can get an egg put on absolutely anything.

4. Sarinana's Tamale Factory
Not actually tamales from Sarinana's...
Not actually tamales from Sarinana's...


Despite the fact that Sarinana's has tamales in the name--and the tamales are pretty good--the whole reason anyone goes to Sarinana's is for the hard-shelled tacos. The shredded beef and chicken are great, but the ground beef hard-shelled taco will awaken your mind to what Taco Bell is trying to imitate.

 
3. El Farolito
Ten Great Mexican-American Combo Plates In Orange County
Christian Ziebarth / Courtesy of OC Mexican Restaurants


Huge platters of crispy carnitas: check. Chips so thick you could build a bridge out of them: check. Awesome beans: check. Self-service (but monitored, don't get any ideas) beer fridge: check. Cheap bill: check. All you have to do is wait for your name to be called.

2. The Entire Al Empire (Alberto's, Alberta's, Albertacos, etc.)

Ten Great Mexican-American Combo Plates In Orange County
Edwin Goei
They all have different names, based as they are on the original Roberto's in San Diego, but the menu, prices and signs are the same, whether you're at Alerto's or Albatros. Some are partial to their California burritos, enormous, thick logs of meat and rice and beans and cheese; they're more famous, though, for their carne asada fries (and carne asada nachos). Here's a tip: a half order is plenty for anyone. Seriously.

1. Super Antojitos

Ten Great Mexican-American Combo Plates In Orange County
Dave Lieberman
When it's not full of students from Santa Ana College across the street, Super Antojitos has soccer matches on, with friendly rivalry between two halves of the restaurant. The chile verde is outstanding--it could be improved only with tortillas hechas a mano--and the combination plates are leagues beyond El Torito and its ilk. The bar is stocked with Victoria, the salsa doesn't need to be spiked with Tapatío, and the service is friendly.

Follow Stick a Fork In It on Twitter @ocweeklyfood or on Facebook! And don't forget to download our free Best Of App here!
Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Avila's El Ranchito

24406 Muirlands Blvd.
Lake Forest, CA 92630

949-855-4989

www.avilaselranchito.com

miles
Avila's El Ranchito
miles
Avila's El Ranchito Restaurant

318 Main St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

714-960-9696

www.avilaselranchito.com

miles
Avila's El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant

2800 Newport Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92663

949-675-6855

www.avilaselranchito.com

miles
Avila's El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant

2101 Placentia Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

949-642-1142

www.avilaselranchito.com

miles
Avila's El Ranchito

1305 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

949-376-7040

www.avilaselranchito.com

miles
Avila's El Ranchito

182 S. Orange St.
Orange, CA 92866

714-516-1000

www.avilaselranchito.com

miles
Avila's El Ranchito

2201 E. 1st St.
Santa Ana, CA 92705

714-547-9129

www.avilaselranchito.com

miles
Avila's El Ranchito

204 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672

949-498-5000

www.avilaselranchito.com

miles
Avila's El Ranchito

2515 E. Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92625

949-644

www.avilaselranchito.com

miles
La Casa Garcia

531 W Chapman Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92802

714-740-1108

www.lacasagarcia.com

miles
Molcasalsa

580 S. Beach Blvd.
La Habra, CA 90631

562-691-0035

miles
Mexi-Casa Mexican Food

1778 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

714-635-2612

miles
Taiko Japanese Restaurant

14775 Jeffrey Rd.
Irvine, CA 92618

949-559-7190

miles
Little Onion Mexican

110 W. MacArthur Blvd.
Santa Ana, CA 92707

714-979-1144

www.thelittleonionrestaurant.com

miles
Sarinana Tamale Factory

2218 W. 5th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703

714-558-8650

miles
El Farolito

201 S. Bradford Ave.
Placentia, CA 92870

714-993-7880

www.elfarolitomex.com

miles
Albertaco's Mexican Food

28171 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

949-365-0695

miles
Super Antojitos

1702 N. Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA 92706

714-835-3619


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >