Great Mex is a surprising little joint

Ever since a friend of mine introduced me to this place, I’ve been coming here whenever I’ve been craving Mexican food. A small hole-in-the-wall, Great Mex is one of those places where food is simple but delicious and absolutely down-to-earth without any pretension.

There are three locations in Orange County and I recently visited their newest location in Costa Mesa hidden in a generic looking mall, easily missed if you’re not looking for it.

There is a salsa bar with a bunch of really great salsas ranging from mild to those with some kick to it. I love the smoky darker salsa as well as the one with a kick to it. Usually, I mix the two together. The chips flow endlessly if you want them to — just ask!

The Carnitas Fries here puts some others (I’m not naming names) to shame, both in flavor and size. For $5.95, the ginormous portion is so huge there is no way one person can eat it all — well I guess if you’re absolutely famished, maybe. There is a lot of meat, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese.

I normally am not a big fan of Chile Relleno ($2.50 a la carte $5.25/combo) because it is so heavily battered. Here, the coating is thin and all you get is a delicious pepper filled with cheese which oozes out when you cut into it. What could be better than that? This is the best chile relleno I’ve had in OC.

If you’re a taco fan, try the ones here. They run about $2 each and my favorite is the al pastor. Vegetarians can order the potato or mushroom taco (which they’ve recently added to the menu).¬†However, my all time favorite is the shrimp taco! I get it every single time I come here.

I’ve been here once a week ever since my first time here and I’m completely hooked on the enchilada — well the enchilada sauce really. I’ve never liked enchilada before. I think I’ve finally figured it out, it’s the sauce! The roja sauce is simply amazing here. They definitely don’t put enough on the enchilada for me.

Breakfast is pretty tasty too. Chorizo omelette is jam packed with chorizo and jalapenos, served with potatoes and toast. The portion is so generous I was able to make two meals out of it.

If you’re looking for something light, check out the chicken salad. A grilled chicken breast sits atop a bed of baby greens tossed with a delicious salad dressing. I couldn’t stop eating this even though I was already stuffed.

Shrimp quesadilla has got to be one of the best items here. In fact, my son loves the al pastor quesadilla, but I love the shrimp.

Big chunks of shrimp are stuffed into this huge flour tortilla with melted cheese oozing with each bite. You can’t go wrong with this, or any of the items on the menu.

There are three locations you can go try some of this delicious fare at, so there is no excuse to not check this little gem out!

Tell me which location you would most likely visit and why and you might win a $10 gift certificate to Great Mex. 

Great Mex
703 E Balboa Blvd
Newport Beach, CA 92661
Tel: 949-675-0808

Great Mex on Urbanspoon

2360 Newport Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Tel: 949-645-1884

Great Mex on Urbanspoon

1525 E Mesa Verde Drive
Ste 117
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: 714-241-1120

Great Mex on Urbanspoon


  1. says

    I’m so glad you posted this review! I’ve only eaten the tacos here on Taco Tuesday and have always wondered about the rest of the menu. Now I want to try enchiladas, chile relleno, and shrimp quesadillas in addition to the breakfasts which I didn’t even know they served!!! Thank you so much for this write up, I found it to be most helpful.
    Take cAre,

  2. Jonathan Hunter says

    I live less than a half of a mile away from this place in the neighborhood behind it.

    Needless to say, I frequent this place a lot. My personal favorite are the ground beef omelet, pastor tacos and the chili rellenos. I agree with you on the charred smokey dark salsa. It is amazing.

    However, as much as I adore the chilli relleno there (I love an eggy batter)–the ones here put them to shame in every way:

    It is a shame the closest location is in Yorba Linda.

    The Thai place next to Great Mex is also pretty good. I love their curry fried rice and the shrimp fried rice with shrimp paste. The fried tofu is also pretty dang good with their cilantro and peanut sweet and sour sauce. All of their curries are really cocunuty (which I love).

    • says

      thanks for all this information! Yorba Linda and Placentia is kinda far but if I’m ever in that area I’ll check them out. As for that Thai place I’ve always wondered about it — thanks for the info! I must try them next.

  3. Rita Patel says

    Anita, this place sounds great. My parents are vegetarians who always pick chile rellano. I can’t wait to take them there and try the tacos and enchilada. I think I will try the location on Mesa verde east in costa Mesa since its the closest to us. Thanks for sharing another little gem in the OC.

  4. Hamilton Le says

    OMG…. all of these dishes look so great I think I would try and go to the location in costa mesa since that is the closest to me. Thanks again for sharing such beautiful gems and wonderful dishes in the OC!

  5. Debbie says

    I’ve driven by this place on Newport Blvd hundreds of times and have looked over at Great Mex and wondered if it was related to Super Mex. I would never think to go there, however, being it is in a strip mall with a Thai restaurant, a nail studio, massage parlour and dry cleaners. Odd company for a mexican restaurant. After reading your review and the others above, might have to stop and try the shrimp taco — looks and sounds delicious!! Thanks.

  6. Gregory McCann says

    I would probably visit the Newport Beach location, because it appears to be the most bus friendly. Our palates are so similar when it comes to Mexican cuisine. I am a fan of EVERY item on this blog. Huge interest in various sauces. Love my Al pastor, chile relleno’s, carnitas fries, chorizo omelette, shrimp quesadilla, various tacos, enchiladas & taco salads. I’d be very anxious to see the rest of their delicacies at a modest price. Do they have any sweet treats to complete the experience?

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