University Park Center
Culver & Michelson
Tacos & Co. Brea
Brea Mall Food Court
Tacos & Co. Santa Ana
Across the street from South Coast Plaza
Tacos & Co. Westminster
Westminster Mall Food Court
Bolsa & Goldenwest
Tacos & Co. Newport Beach
Bristol & Jamboree
The mastermind behind the Orange County Mexican Food blog got an invitation to sample some of the culinary delights down at the Tacos & Co. in Irvine. They told him he could bring a guest. I was that lucky guest.
Tacos & Co. is not your typical fast foot Mexican joint. The owner, Francisco, started as a cook at La Salsa. He quickly moved up the ranks and was eventually the district manager for the entire region. He wanted more though. He wanted a place that he could call his own. Thus, Tacos & Co. was born. The first Tacos & Co. opened up in the food court of Westminster mall. Over the years, Francisco has built his business up to 5 great locations. One of the keys to Francisco's success is his involvement in the needs and wants of his customers. He is always listening to customer comments and evolving his restaurant to make sure that it pleases as many people as possible. Francisco is also very involved in the communities in which he operates. He runs a variety of local promotions and fundraisers. One of his most popular promotions is the student discount. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, college students with a student ID can get meals at any Tacos & Co. location for 50% off with the purchase of a drink. High School students get the same treatment on Fridays. (High school kids must be accompanied by an adult) Lastly, everything is made fresh here except the tortillas. The meat, the beans, the salsa, the chips and more are all prepared fresh everyday. This makes a huge difference. You can definitely taste the freshness in the food.
Now on to the food....
We arrived at the restaurant around 1:00. Francisco welcomed us and told us to grab a seat. He told us that the chef would take care of us. The chef came out to greet us and offered us a drink. I decided to go for an horchata. After we received our drinks, we were presented with plate after plate of beautifully prepared food.
The first to arrive was their chips and salsa. They have five different kinds of salsa here (We only got 4 on the plate), ranging from mild to super hot. They even have a green tomatillo based salsa. They were all very good, however I didn't think the "super hot" was very hot at all.
Next to arrive was their ceviche. They have both shrimp and fish ceviche here. They were both very good, though my favorite was the shrimp. The lemony flavor in the shrimp ceviche was very strong. I added a little bit of Tapatio to cut the strength of the lemon a little bit and it was absolutely fantastic. I could have eaten an entire lunch of this.
Next to arrive were the tacos. 2 plates of tacos were placed before us. One plate contained a carnitas and an al pastor taco. The other plate had a chicken and a carne asada taco. My fellow food blogger chose the plate with the carnitas and al pastor, so I had the chicken and the steak. The meat on both tacos tasted fresh and lean and seemed to be grilled perfectly. They were served "California" style with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. However, for those of you that prefer a more traditional Mexican style, they will be happy to prepare your tacos for you with cilantro and onion instead. This goes back to Francisco trying to make sure that everyone is happy and can get what they want in his restaurant.
Up next were enchiladas. A plate with a red and green enchilada was placed before us. A drizzle of delicious sour cream on top of each one. We received cheese enchiladas and I know that they also offer chicken enchiladas. I'm not sure if enchiladas are available with any other meat, but I'm sure they wouldn't have a problem making it for you upon request.
Up next were two different burritos. One with steak and one with chicken. They offer a variety of burritos here. Their largest burrito, the "Bad Boy" comes with half a pound of meat, lettuce avocado cheese and salsa. Their various burrito are stuffed with such items as guacamole, sour cream, piquin sauce, tomatillio sauce and more.
Next we were served a plate of rice and beans. They offer both black and pinto beans here. They also offer white rice in addition to their mexican rice for those of you looking to eat a little healthier.
By this time, our bellies were more than full. The focus of this place seems to be fresh food, made daily. The food here is so popular, they offer giant family packs as well as catering. Francisco tells me that they do lots of weddings. To finish up this post, I will add a few more photos of the restaurant.
The Menu Board-Look for the "hidden" menu on the left for the authentic Mexican items
The Salsa Bar