enamored with dinners at Anepalco’s Cafe

I’m always shocked when people tell me they’ve never heard of Anepalco’s Cafe, or that they’ve never been there. SERIOUSLY? The BEST chilaquiles in Orange County and beyond and you’ve never been? Sacrilege!!!

I’ve been a fan ever since my first visit to the original Anepalco’s, tucked away in a teenie strip mall next to CHOC Hospital in Orange, years ago and have been going back ever since.

A second location opened this May at a bigger space and the best news of all, with a completely new dinner menu. Chef and owner Danny Godinez has brought his Mexican heritage, together with his French training (his resume includes Montage, Ritz-Carlton and more) to create one of the most eclectic menus around.

Chef Danny’s dinner menu is ever evolving, but customer favorites always remain. Since May, the dinner menu has already been adapted a few times to include stellar dishes which will never come off the menu, or at least, I hope they won’t, and new inspirations his creative mind is constantly flooded with.

One of those is Shrimp Cassoulet ($8.50), large plump shrimp immersed in a mind-blowingly dreamy, rich, creamy chipotle sauce you won’t be able to stop eating. Served with toasted sliced bread, I suggest you ask for more even before they bring it to the table because you will need it. My son can eat this all on his own and he won’t want to share. I wish they will serve it with a side of rice so I can just douse it with the remaining sauce.

Ranchera Flatbread ($8.50) with top sirloin beef cap, roasted tomatillo sauce, Oaxaca cheese and spring onion is the perfect item to share while you sip on one of the many beers on tap. Or, a glass of wine personally sourced by Chef Danny from Mexico.

Continue with Ahi Tuna Tartare ($9) consisting of ahi tuna, avocado, red onion, chiles Mexicanos, lime juice, pepitas oil and egg yolk, which your server will mix together once they bring it to the table. Pumpkin seeds and tortilla chips are added for a textural crunch and it is one of those things my son can’t stop eating. It is just delicious.

The menu offers many entrees to choose from so I’ll focus on my favorites. Cielo, Mer Y Terre ($19) is a combination of scallops, shrimp, Spanish chorizo and Jidori chicken in a dry chile veloute sauce served over risotto style rice with ham. It is addicting and I always wish I had remembered to tell them I want extra sauce when I order.

Chef Danny grew up in Acapulco where his mother owned a restaurant. Acapulco is known for its seafood so it is no surprise that the seafood dishes shine here. Serrano Beurre BlancTilapia ($16.50) is another outstanding item. Sauteed tilapia, potato puree, corn, pico de gallo, serrano beurre blanc topped with micro cilantro is one of those dishes every fish lover will adore. Tilapia is tender and the decadent sauce — Danny is famous for his French-style sauces with a Mexican flair — is always the star of the plate.

I absolutely love Callo De Hacha ($18), scallops and grilled chorizo on a bed of ancho polenta in a chipotle sauce. Large, succulent scallops are perfectly executed and paired with salty chorizo for an insanely delicious mouthful. It is so hard to choose between this, the tilapia and the Cielo, Mer Y Terre when I am here, but this is also one of those rare places where my son will eat seafood so I am able to order all of them if I choose.

Meat lovers should check out Costillas Al Vino Rojo ($18.50), short rib slow-cooked for 8 hours and served with potato puree. A little mirepoix is added for crunch and a rich and hearty red wine chile de arbol reduction for severe wow-factor. It is comfort food at its best.

For those wanting something casual, Ratatouille Burger ($12) is quite delicious. You can choose from an all natural beef pattie or an all natural chicken breast. The burger is served on a brioche bun with zucchini, Mexican squash, red pepper, eggplant, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, serrano aioli and Swiss cheese.

The eclectic menu also includes a Huitlacoche Burger ($13) topped with Oaxaca cheese, white cabbage, iceberg, roasted tomatoes and huitlacoche aioli. If you don’t know what huitlacoche is, it is corn smut, and is used predominantly in Mexican cuisine. It probably sounds scarier than it is because chances are, you won’t even be able to tell the difference.

If you want to try a Mexican offering, the Mexican Enchilada Trio ($12) is fantastic. You can choose chicken or pork — I suggest the pork because the cochinita pibil is very flavorful — and is topped with the incredible red sauce, the restaurant’s signature sauce served on their famous chilaquiles.

No matter what you choose, you will find there is nothing average about this place. The food is first class and you won’t be paying an arm and a leg for it!

For the giveaway this week, one of my readers will have the opportunity to win a 5-course tasting menu for two especially prepared by Chef Danny. Include your FULL name and why you deserve to win this fabulous offer. Entries will close on Sunday.

Anepalco’s Cafe
at Ayres Inn
3737 W. Chapman Avenue
Orange, CA 92868
Tel: 714-456-9642

Anepalco's Cafe (Inside Ayres Inn) on Urbanspoon


  1. says

    Oooh, I’ve been wanting to try this place for ages! Been hearing so many good things about it from so many people, it would definitely be worth a trip down to OC. I guess I deserve to win because I’m an influential Yelper who could bring more attention to the wonderful stylings of Chef Danny…? 😛
    -Stephanie Han

  2. says

    Same with Shanna, I’ve never heard of this place. I feel shamed. The food looks amazing! Definitely on my to try list. And if I can go try the 5 course dinner, score!

  3. says

    I would love to win this but not exactly for myself – I want to win to take my mom with me. She’s been having a tough time lately and this is her favorite kind of food so it would be really special and just the pick-me-up she needs. :) ~Adrea Reed

  4. says

    I absolutely LOVE Anepalco’s! But, I have never been for anything aside from breakfast. I actually didn’t even realize that they had a dinner menu! I run the blog ArtintheOC.com and I’d love to do a blog post about “the art of food” at Anepalco’s! Pick me!
    -Terry Gonzalez

  5. Jonathan says

    My wife and i love the original anelpacos and cant imagine what dinner would be like! I thinknwe,ay have found a new contender for her birthday dinner in three weeks!

  6. Gilbert Mercado says

    I love their breakfasts especially the “huevos divorciados” at their original location and would love the opportunity to try chef Danny’s amazing-looking dinner menu at his newer, bigger location. Thank you!

  7. Anna Garcia says

    Hi! I’d love he chance to take my daughter out for an amazing meal. I’ve heard about Anepalco’s but have not had a chance to visit!
    I’ve recently become a single mom again and our Friday evenings out have become evenings in.
    Thank you For the opportunity :)

  8. Hamilton Le says

    This place looks amazing, and where I can get a good fix of fantastic mexican cuisine, too bad I just barely heard of Anepalco’s now as I have read this, and now I want to try it.

  9. says

    Being a business woman, I NEVER get out, much less to eat amazing food. This would be such a “treat” as hubs and I recently celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary and still didn’t get out to celebrate!! Thanks for sharing those amazing pictures….I’m drooling.

  10. Paul Lin says

    I deserve to win because as much as I love El Toro Bravo I would like to eat good Mexican (or Mexican fusion) while sitting down for a change.

  11. Lori Birdzell says

    Lori Birdzell
    What’s sad is that I live right by there and have never tried it…I would LOVE to win this great gift!

Leave a Reply