A So-So Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen Dinner–But, Oh, Those Churros…

It seemed a couple of days ago that my chica and I would experience another disappointing meal at Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen in Orange, a place I have long championed but has recently acted like another Old Towne Orange battle horse, Felix's Continental Cuisine: a super-busy restaurant past its prime. We enjoyed the lobster quesadilla, but my chica remembered that lobster was a special two days earlier. My queso de panela enchiladas featured an acrid red sauce (although the cheese was properly suffocating), her tacos de rajas not properly piquant. We sat at the bar, arrived before Gabbi's customary evening swarm, yet the bartender lagged. “I don't want to come here anymore,” I mused to my chica, as she ordered the churros for dessert.

Churros and I haven't gotten along since high school, when I mistakenly bit into a window-display churro (weird story that I haven't thought of in years, but true). Most churros unfortunately taste like that mock version: rubbery, with little flavor other than too much sugar. But Gabbi's take highlighted what can impress from a churro while minimizing its detriments: crunchy exterior, cream-like center, with enough sugar powdered on to make you unconsciously rub your fingers to take off the excess granules but not so much that the dough is rendered flavorless. Even better, however, were the dipping sauces: Mexican chocolate and cajeta, each robust and not overly sweet. The cooks should make the sauces a bit thicker so they don't drip off, but that's an oversight. Executive chef Gabbi Patrick and her husband are great people, and she definitely has the proverbial skills for the bills, but she should monitor the kitchen's output a bit more diligently. More churros, less bad enchilada sauce, I say!

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen, 141 S. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 633-3038; www.gabbimex.com.

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