|handmade tortilla tacos|
**version of article is featured on OC Register’s Food Frenzy**
I’ve never ventured down this far on Bristol Street traveling towards Santa Ana before so I was unaware of what was out here, that is, until my friend wanted to meet for lunch, at this hole in the wall. I wasn’t really feeling Mexican food I told her, but I tagged along anyway just so I could see her. Surprisingly, after that initial visit, I returned again for breakfast this weekend as I’d been thinking about the food for a few months now.
The restaurant is small, just what you would expect in Santa Ana. The interior is decorated like an old diner with a life size statue of Elvis in the doorway. There is table service but if you’re in somewhat of a hurry, I suggest just going up to the counter and ordering before sitting down.
The specialty here is carne en su jugo, literally translated as “meat in its own juices”, and this was the dish I couldn’t stop thinking about after trying it the first time. This soupy stew hails from Guadalajara, namely the Jalisco area where Andres’s, (the owner) family comes from. The recipe has been passed down from generations and once you taste it, you’ll instantly realize that this isn’t something that’s thrown together lightly. The recipe is simple, beef, bacon and beans, but not just any beans, not even pinto beans which is so popular in Mexican cuisine, but Peruano beans, which stand up so much better to extended cooking and absorbs flavors well.
|carne en su jugo|
The carne en su jugos arrives in a festive clay dish with another plate of condiments consisting of diced onions, cilantro, limes and grilled green Mexican onions/sauteed yellow onions. I tasted the soup before dousing it with the condiments and was met with a hearty and beefy broth which enticed the palate. After the condiments were added it brought on a whole new element to the dish, something between menudo and a beef soup but so much better. I was blown away by the sheer simplicity yet deliciousness of it all.
If soupy stews are not your thing don’t fret because this place is known for more than just the carne en su jugo! Their hand-made tortillas are also very good, beautifully textured and a little thicker than the regular tortillas used for street tacos! My favorite is the al pastor — perfectly seasoned and not dry. The carne asada is also flavored very well but just a little too dry for me.
Another thing this place is known for are tacos al vapor — steamed tacos — but surprisingly, I wasn’t all that excited about them. I found the tortilla too dry and the shredded beef filling my friend ordered wasn’t all that flavorful. Maybe it would have been better with al pastor, who knows, but for me, the hand made tortillas are the way to go.
I also tried another of my favorite Mexican dishes, camarones al mojo de ajo, but unfortunately, dried garlic powder was used instead of fresh garlic and the accompanying beans and rice weren’t the best I’ve had. I won’t order this next time.
Like most ethnic restaurants there are a few outstanding items which make me go back again and again for more. This place is no different. Whenever I think of carne en su jugo and the hand made tortillas, La Cocina de mi Abuelita is what I think of. Try it yourself and trust me, your tastebuds will thank you!
La Cocina De Mi Abuelita, 2640 S Bristol Street, Santa Ana, CA 92704. Tel: 714-241-7166