22922 Los Alisos Blvd.
Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Taco Mesa is a place that kind of gets lost in the shuffle for me. Maybe it is because it is hidden in a shopping center, who's big tenants are a Kragen Auto Parts, and a Baskin Robbins, two places I rarely hangout. It could also be because we have so many choices when it comes to Mexican food in Orange county. The latter is probably the real reason I never think about Taco Mesa, but we recently made two trips to the awkward strip mall, to see what they had cooking.
Taco Mesa has been in business for just short of twenty years now. Opened by the Calderon brothers, Taco Mesa has grown to four locations, (this one plus, Costa Mesa, Orange, and Ladera Ranch). They have even opened up two full service restaurants, Taco Rosa, (in Newport and Irvine).
Each time we have been to this location they have been busy, so people can definitely find them. The brightly colored tables and chairs keep the place lively, and the music over the speakers helps to fill in the silence. They have counter service here, so when they call out our name, this is what came out.
We started off with the Taquitos. We ordered the beef the first time we were here, and chicken the next. The beef were better than the chicken. I liked the presentation of the taqitos, but the taste was just average. They were not greasy at all, and they did give out a generous dollop of guacamole with these.
Katie got the same salad on both trips to Taco Mesa, so I guess you can say that she liked it. She got the King Nacho Salad with chicken added. This salad was comprised of crispy tortillas, topped with beans, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and avocado. Katie calls this a cross between a plate of nachos and a taco salad, and she was impressed by the freshness of the produce. I liked the chicken in this, but this seemed too healthy for me.
It was Burrito Wednesday when we visited, and on Wednesday's you can get a burrito, soft drink, rice and beans for $5, a great deal! I went with the carnitas burrito. I again liked the presentation, and their sauce was really good. I would have liked more meat, and less beans in the burrito, but the meat that it had in there was very tender.
The carnitas were so good my first trip I decided to get the Carnitas Pibil the second time. These carnitas were topped with Yucatan pibil sauce. Pibil is a Mayan word meaning buried, and this dish was traditionally buried in the ground to cook it. I am sure they are not burying this in the ground now, but I definitely dug it, (okay way too bad of a joke, but I had to try). The carnitas were fork tender, and the sauce was good. Not really chunky like a salsa, but had a mild flavor to it. This was also served with flour tortillas, and the beans and rice.
Next up was another item I had never seen on a menu before, the Taco Alambre. This caught my eye because it is steak grilled with peppers, onions and BACON! The menu said this was topped with cheese, but they must have forgotten it. The flavors on this were big, but it would have been better if the steak was a little more tender. I would give this taco another shot though.
We will have to get Taco Mesa more into our repertoire. It is so close to our house, and the food does seem really fresh and reasonably priced. After reading the reviews, I will have to give the lobster burrito a try next time, and the Mesa Burrito is also high on my list of things to try.
Out of five Grand Mesa's, (the largest mesa in the world, located in Colorado), five being best to zero being worst, Taco Mesa receives three Grand Mesa's.
For more information on Taco Mesa, click here: http://www.tacomesa.net/