Yesterday was the start of OC Restaurant Week 2017 and we thought it’ll be a great idea to go check out a restaurant for lunch. I’ve been to Puesto in San Diego, but a less-than-stellar experience did not garner a return visit. I didn’t bother to write about it either. Now, a location has opened in Irvine at Los Olivos and we decided it was time for a revisit.
Upon entering, I immediately noticed that this location is slightly smaller than its San Diego counterparts, but super cute. There are a few tables in the “kitchen” area giving diners the illusion of a chef’s table.
The $15 Restaurant Week lunch menu includes a choice of three appetizers, two tacos and a dessert. Your meal arrives on one plate with your appetizer side, and two tacos.
Puesto Perfect Guacamole is made with ripe avocados, Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese, cilantro, onion, fresh lime and orange juices, and habanero.
Crab Guacamole is the same version but topped with lump crab. The only difference is that this offers a little hint of umami, but otherwise, not much else.
The grilled corn kernels in the Esquite are tossed with chile, lime, queso and crema. I am a huge fan of corn and have been known to devour a bowl of grilled corn with fervor, however, this esquite is oily and there is a little too much crema, taking away from the natural flavors of the corn.
Between the six of us, we are able to sample seven of the 10 tacos, all served on blue corn tortillas. There are two chicken offerings on the menu. Chicken Verde is slathered with cilantro-cumin tomatillo sauce, then topped with crispy melted cheese . The flavor is robust, albeit the chicken is dry. However, the caramelized onion and serrano tinga verde helped some in adding a little moisture to the taco.
Chicken Al Pastor is packed with flavor. Like the chicken verde, this taco also arrives with crispy melted cheese on top, hibiscus and chipotle tinga, and a pineapple habanero pico de gallo. This is definitely my favorite of the two chicken tacos.
Cochinita Pibil, a slow roasted ancho-chile marinated pork is exactly how it’s supposed to be. The pork is tender, and the savory seasonings pop in my mouth. Served with pickled red onions and a tomatillo roja sauce.
My son orders the Filet Mignon (+$2 per taco) which I find to be just okay flavor-wise, though it is nice and tender.
Zucchini & Cactus, though vegetarian, is worth ordering. Its smokiness elevates the zucchini and cactus to a whole new level, making it my second favorite taco of the day.
For seafood choices, Baja Fish (+$1 per taco) is decent, but I would have liked the beer batter on the cod a little crispier. Loved the traditional dressings such as shredded cabbage and Baja sauce on the taco itself — (left taco in photo)
Then there’s Tamarindo Shrimp (+$2 per taco) is divine, and my favorite taco. Each shrimp is plump and perfectly crispy. The tamarindo-chile sauce possesses a sweet, tart, spicy finish which enhances the overall taste of the taco.
When you’re done, you’ll be presented with dessert – Pequeno Frozen Horchata – a horchata milkshake that’s semi frozen and dusted with cinnamon. The little boy at our table sipped his all up in a flash, but it is WAY too sweet for me.
Puesto’s Restaurant Week menu is definitely worth a visit. Go with a few more people and get a taste of a few more. This is the best time to check out those restaurants you’ve been pondering for a while. You’ve only one week!
8577 Irvine Ctr Drive
Irvine, CA 92618