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ATTENTION!! On the left hand column, you will find links to search by cuisine or city. You will also find a restaurant index of all of the places I have written about on the column on the right. If you enjoy the site, please bookmark the site and tell a friend! You can also subscribe to be notified when the site updates by entering your e-mail address in the box on the left. Happy Eating!

Please visit our partner sites DiningOutInOC.com for info on OC restaurant openings and special culinary related events, Booze It Up OC for info on OC 21+ events and Brunch In OC for info and reviews on weekend brunches. You can also find Griffin as one of the "experts" over at LocalCuisine.com

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rollie's Mexican and Bolivian Cafe and Bakery -Tustin


Rollie's Mexican and Bolivian Cafe and Bakery
14071 Newport Avenue
Tustin, CA 92780-5172
(714) 669-8300
http://rollies.weebly.com/


I really wanted to like this place. I really, really did. The woman behind the counter was so nice and friendly. We chatted about the food she made and the ingredients and love that she put into it. She proudly told me that she hand makes all the corn tortillas for their large tacos. She said that they order the finest chorizo from a specialty company up in Los Angeles. She spoke about her food with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye. Therefore, I really, really wanted to like this place....but.....well......I just didn't.

I ordered two of their large tacos with the fresh homemade tortillas ($2.50 each). I ordered one with carne asada and one with chorizo. I asked if the chorizo was served with egg or potato and she told me that it came with potato. I tried to order it without potato, but she told me that it was a very small amount of potato and it really enhanced the flavor of the chorizo. I agreed to try it with the potato. I also ordered three of their small "street tacos" ($1.00 each). I got two of them with carne asada and one with lengua (beef tongue). I ordered V a carne asada burrito ($5.99). I also decided to try one of their Salteña empanadas ($2.50) because I had heard good things about them.

While I was waiting for the food to be prepared, I walked over and browsed through the bakery cases that were full of Mexicam sweet bread. I asked if the breads were baked fresh that day and she told me that they had. I chose an elotito ($0.65), which is a cinnamon-flavored sweet bread that is shaped like a small ear of corn.

I got my food to go and took it home. When I arrived at home I eagerly unwrapped all the food. I couldn't wait to try all this delicious food that the nice lady behind the counter was bragging about.

First I decided to try the Salteña Empanada. I sliced it in half and V and I each took a piece. The filling consisted of ground beef, egg and peas. The filling was sweet...a little too sweet for me and V. Neither one of us really enjoyed the flavor of the empanada, so we didn't eat it.


I unwrapped my large tacos and immediately saw that the "chorizo" taco was really just a cubed potato taco with chorizo grease. I was very annoyed by this. The woman behind the counter had sworn that there was only a small amount of potato in the taco. All I saw was potato. I took a couple bites of this overly-greasy potato taco and then threw the rest away. A taco has to be pretty bad for me to throw it away. I then tried the carne asada taco. One thing I found interesting about the tacos here was that instead of being served with the traditional toppings of fresh cilantro and onion, they were topped with cilantro, grilled onions and grilled bell peppers. I was not a fan of this. The salsa was also tomato based and seemed like something you would eat with chips at a cheap Americanized Mexican restaurant. I didn't like the carne asada taco either, but I forced it down.

The street tacos were small, but probably worth the dollar I paid for them. The carne asada and the lengua tasted pretty much the same. It was basically just meat, covered in salt and cooked on a flat-top grill. I ate the lengua taco and then took the meat from the carne asada tacos, seasoned it up and threw it into a flour tortilla with some cheese and made a quesadilla. I ate it with some Del Taco hot sauce and it was the best part of my meal.

V said that her burrito was basically just a bean burrito. She couldn't really find any carne asada in her burrito. When she finally came across a piece, she ate it and said that it just tasted like salt.

V moved on to the elotito pan dulce that I bought for her. Keep in mind that the lady working at Rollie's said that the bread was baked fresh that day. This pan dulce was SO stale that it was as hard as a rock. V tried to bite through it a couple of times but was unable to get her teeth through it. Needless to say, she threw it away.

Overall, this restaurant might be ok if you are looking to grab some quick $1 street tacos and you don't really care what they taste like. You are much better off going to Alberto's or The Original Taco Factory which are 1-block away in either direction. I might return to this place one day to try their Bolivian food, but I will not be returning for more Mexican food.

Rollie's Bakery & Mexican Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 18, 2011

OC BBQ Bonanza Starts Today!



The OC BBQ Bonanza, a 4-day festival, starts today in Fountain Valley. General Admission tickets are $5 each or you can purchase a $100 pass that gets you VIP seating and all-you-can-consume food and alcohol. Kids 12 and under are free, but they are not allowed in the $100 VIP area.

Visit our sister site DiningOutInOC.com for more details.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Weekend Brunch at Royal Hawaiian - Laguna Beach


Royal Hawaiian Laguna Beach
331 North Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, California 92651
(949) 494-8001
http://www.royalhawaiianlaguna.net


I was fortunate enough to try the new weekend brunch at Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach. One of the best things about the new brunch is that it is served on both Saturday and Sunday. No more waiting until Sunday to have brunch! The brunch, called Kakahiaka, is served from 11:00 AM-4:00 PM and features a variety of island inspired breakfast and lunch fare.

We started our meal off with a couple of appetizers. We got the Hawaiian Coconut Shrimp ($13) and the Ahi Tuna Poke ($15). The coconut shrimp was nice and crunchy with plenty of coconut flavor. It wasn't as sweet as some other coconut shrimp that I have had, which I consider to be a good thing. It was very nicely balanced. The Ahi Tuna Poke was very good. The chef has won some awards for this poke. The poke was made with huge fresh chunks of raw ahi tuna, marinated with chile, lime, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and chopped macadamia nuts and served with wonton chips. I prefer a little more of a spicy kick, but it was still very good and fresh tasting.


For my entree I ordered Loco Moco ($13) and a side of Maui Onion Rings ($7). Loco Moco is a popular Hawaiian breakfast dish that consists of a hamburger patty on top of a mound of rice that is covered with a couple of over easy eggs and brown gravy. The elements of this dish are pretty standard wherever you go, but the dish rarely tastes the same from restaurant to restaurant. One of the most, if not the most, important factors for determining a good loco moco is the gravy. The gravy at the Royal Hawaiian had a little bit of a spicy kick to it but was a little light. I prefer a slightly darker, richer and bolder gravy. I still enjoyed the gravy here, I just wished it was a little bolder.

The Maui Onion rings were battered and fried perfectly. The crunchy exterior gave way to perfectly cooked, slightly sweet oniony goodness. These onion rings were probably my favorite part of the meal. The onion rings were served with a slightly spicy sriracha aioli. The portion was rather large as well.

V ordered the Coconut French Toast ($13) as her entree. It was served with portugese sausage and fruit salad. The portugese sausage was oven-baked which resulted in a nice even crust around each piece of sausage. V really enjoyed her meal. Her only complaint was that the french toast was a little dry. She still thought it was very good though. She thought that the fruit salad that came on top was perfectly balanced and had just the right flavor to complement the french toast. She also said that the Portugese sausage was very yummy.

After our meal we were offered a sample sized bread pudding. The bread pudding was made with hawaiian sweet bread. It was dense, but not overly so. It had a nice balanced flavor. V said that it was the second best bread pudding she has ever had.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Royal Hawaiian for anyone looking for a Hawaiian style brunch. The prices are reasonable for what you get and the food is pretty tasty. The only thing that would make this brunch better would be if it came with all-you-can-drink champagne. The interior of the restaurant is also a little dim and drabby. This seems to be ok for dinner time, but during brunch it seemed a little depressing. A little extra light and some upbeat Hawaiian music could help a lot in improving the atmosphere.

Thanks go out to Jennifer at Ajenda PR for inviting me to the launch of The Royal Hawaiian's weekend brunch!
Royal Hawaiian on Urbanspoon