taco maria – alta california
Despite the name, Taco Maria is not a place to get tacos, instead it serves sophisticated delicious seasonal cuisine of what some call first generation Mexican-American food or Alta California cuisine, which simply means a blend of Mexican and American cultures. The mastermind behind it is Executive Head Chef and owner Carlos Salgado.
Carlos grew up in Orange County which is situated south of Los Angeles. There his parents ran a typical Mexican restaurant. Carlos worked there first but then, after a brief stint in the computer industry, he attended culinary school and subsequently worked as chef at Coi in San Francisco and Commis in Oakland before opening Taco Maria in 2013.
His restaurant is situated in Costa Mesa in Orange County in a food and designer shopping mall. The restaurant is casual, has an outdoor patio but nicest is to sit on the counter seats in front of the open kitchen and see the cooks systematically preparing your dish. You can either choose from the à la carte or go with the seasonal signature menu which also has a well matched wine pairing.
Carlos Salgado has an ingredient focus and in Mexican cuisine one star is of course corn. Salgado himself prepares and grinds heirloom corn varieties sourced from small farms in Mexico. The dishes are wonderfully balanced in flavours and even if there is chili in the dishes it does not overpower in any way. The ingredients are locally sourced and there are several tasteful and interesting combinations like tamal with carrot, mole amarillo, ginger cream and oyster mushrooms or beef with chili, coffee, roasted farro and lime. Recommended is to take the well matched wine pairing.
All in all, Taco Maria is well worth a visit if you want to discover Mexican-American food at a high level or just enjoy a delicious meal.
Taco Maria scored 79 points of 100 points in our rating system. View our Top 60 of the world. Back to the reviews.
3313 Hyland Ave
Costa Mesa, California 92626
Phone: +1 714 538-8444