Ever since executive chef Diego Velasco began cooking food at Costa Mesa’s Memphis Soul Cafe, I’ve been eating one of his most tastiest creations—the popcorn shrimp tacos—at the rate of about one or two times per week. I have always been a fan of Baja-style shrimp tacos, but Diego’s ingenious twist on the classic Mexican dish calls for plump crustaceans lightly fried in cornmeal, then placed in flour tortillas with a generous portion of romaine lettuce, roasted red-pepper slices, chipotle aioli, and a pico de gallo garnish of onion and corn. I always ask for them with cheese, as the finely shredded pepper jack—along with a splash of Red Rooster Louisiana hot sauce—produces exactly the right amount of heat, as well as a fine excuse to quench it with a soothing IPA or two.
Memphis Soul Cafe, 920 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 432-7685; memphiscafe.com.
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is Editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).