Best Reason to Wait for Hours at the Costa Mesa DMV

Any joy left in your being will get sucked right out of you in the DMV waiting area in Costa Mesa. All you have to hold on to is the knowledge you will one day (or week?) leave the place, rewarding your patience across the street. That is where one finds the culinary oasis that is the original Taco Mesa. Inside a funky taquería that was once a Taco Bell, the brothers Calderon bring a gourmet flair to traditional Mexican favorites such as tacos, burritos and enchiladas that has been appreciated by everyone from Sunset Magazine scribes to, well, DMV survivors. Indeed, nothing brings balance to one's car-registration-frazzled being like Taco Mesa's blackened-chicken taco: two warm tortillas piled high with shredded cabbage, hunks of blackened chicken and a tasty homemade salsa that screams Albuquerque. Inventive daily specials lean heavy on freshly netted fish and crustaceans and—special bonus for vegetarians—just as much care and flavor go into the meatless offerings here. It's enough to make you cheer that suspended-license notice in the mail. $$

Non-DMV-adjacent locations in Orange, Mission Viejo and Ladera Ranch.

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