Costa Mesa, officially opened over the weekend, although diners have already been experiencing the restaurant during its soft opening. Don’t be fooled though, it is so much more than just a simple taqueria.
The restaurant boasts a full bar, with both inside and patio seating. There is also a back room housing several flat top stoves — think teppanyaki — where you get to witness, and experience street-style a la plancha cookery right at the table. We were invited to a sneak peek of what Descanso is all about.
We begin our meal with a few signature cocktails which are all created, or tweaks on existing libations, by mixologist Jimmy Valenzuela.
I am not usually a fan of queso fundido, as it always seems overly heavy. Choriqueso Verde is unlike any baked cheese I’ve ever experienced. This creation sees green chorizo, and poblano suiza, mixed with three different cheeses and baked in a mini skillet. The result is a flavorful dip which isn’t super greasy, and very tasty. Wrap in the flour tortillas and enjoy!
Since returning from Cabo, I’ve been missing the incredible aguachile and ceviche I was eating on a daily basis. Aguachile at Descanso did not disappoint. Local yellowtail chunks are marinated with red onions, cucumber, and avocado. I like my aguachile on the tart side, so lime wedges come in handy to spritz things up.
Mexican Poke involves local big eye tuna tossed in a chile morita soy dressing, with bits of pickled ginger, avocado, radish, and sesame seeds. It is a flavor-packed dish which leaves me wanting more.
The best dish of the evening is indeed a surprise. Tamales Dorados are the lightest, most delicious sweet corn tamales I’ve ever eaten. Chef Sergio Ortega tells me that a lot of work was involved in perfecting the tamal and it shows! Topped with salsa verde, crema, queso fresco and micro herb garnish, the tamales are so good they stand on their own without ever needing any of the extras. May I get a dozen to go please??
Next, an array of taco specialties specifically prepared on the plancha. Choose from a selection of meats, or Tacos de Relleno a vegetarian option of seasonal roasted chile, tatuma squash, corn, sweet peppers, tres quesos (three cheese blend) and salsa verde.
Meat lovers may indulge in Alambre de Al Pastor, a preparation of al pastor, poblano chiles, onion, pineapple, all topped with heaping handfuls of tres quesos. The cheese melts and hardens to create a crispy crust. Though tasty, it is too heavy for me, and I only manage one bite.
I much preferred Tacos de Pollo Asado with chile peron orange relish, topped with crispy chicken skin chicharron, refreshingly crunchy jicama and watercress garnish.
Descanso is a fun-filled, interactive way of dining, bringing the vibrant street food atmosphere of Mexico to Orange County. Sip on fabulous cocktails, and savor tasty food without having to travel too far.
1555 Adams Ave, #103
Costa Mesa, CA 92626