I have a mostly cardinal rule about reviewing restaurants that occupy spaces that housed an eatery I previously covered. But I'm delighted to make an exception. Patagonia Empanadas, an awesome Argentine deli I wrote about last year, moved from its original home in a liquor store on the SanTana/Tustin border to bigger digs in Orange—hooray! Good work, gentle readers, in visiting them enough to justify the move, and suerte to them.
Now at Patagonia's OG location is another Argentine deli, La Farola. It has the same set-up of the previous tenant: cramped quarters at the back of the store next to the beer freezers. But something must be in the wine coolers at this spot because La Farola is as good as Patagonia—and in some ways even better. Now attached to the walls are inspirational quotes featuring Mafalda, the Charlie Brown of South America. The reading material is the latest El Suplemento, Southern California's largest Argentine monthly. A freezer carries Inka Cola and quiches to go; a small grocery aisle stocks sweets, wines and yerba mates (five types!) from la patria.
And the food! La Farola's empanadas are buttery and flaky, from the ham-and-cheese to one with ground beef sweetened by raisins and sugars. Platters of milanesa feature the breaded beef cutlet pounded to a pinky's thickness and larger than a 45. Pizzas come in large and personal sizes, with the best being the fugazzeta, which is all about the ground pepper and olive oil so that it almost tastes like zaatar. And then we get to the sandwiches, each served on a sturdy baguette and as good as I've had in a while in OC, period. In addition to the aforementioned milanesa, La Farola serves cold cuts of matambre, that uniquely Argentine cut of steak studded with hard-boiled eggs and carrots. Even better, though, is the house special, lomito La Farola: rib-eye steak and ham topped with a fried egg that baptizes the whole, huge sandwich with its yolk.
Good luck, La Farola: May I write in a year that you've moved on to a bigger spot, che!
La Farola, 151 N. Tustin Ave., Tustin, (714) 835-5732; lafaroladelipizza.com.