Friday, February 18, 2011

Gaining Pearls of Wisdom at La Perlita? - CLOSED

La Perlita
26771 Portola Pkwy., #3-B
Foothill Ranch, CA 92610

Being a food blogger can make you feel really popular. Katie thinks it is because of our great personalities, but I know who we are and that is not it. I think it is because everyone wants you to experience their favorite restaurants. On this night it was my friend Scott and his wife Francisca who wanted to show us one of their favorite spots, La Perlita.

La Perlita is a small strip mall joint. They have about twenty tables, and on this night we were one of about three that were occupied. The decor here is very bright and colorful. The service was good, not great. A lot of up selling was going on, but it was evened out with some jokes that I am sure have been told to many, many tables over the years.

La Perlita is owned by Humberto Huerta. He opened La Perlita in Santa Ana in 1978. That location has since closed, and in 1994 he opened this location in Foothill Ranch. The reviews on-line have been mostly positive for this place, so I came here with some high hopes. Let's check it out.

As usual with Mexican restaurants we will start with a look at their chips and salsa. To be honest these were nothing special to me. The chips were a little dry, and the salsa was more like a taco sauce. There were no hunks of tomato, onion or cilantro inside of it. I have had more flavorful sauce out of the packets at Del Taco. Also one more tip about the chips, if you for some reason go through a whole bowl of them, the next bowl they will charge you for. I am not sure how much they charge, because our party of four did not even come close to finishing them, but be forewarned. I did enjoy the carrots and onions that were served with the sauce though.

As an appetizer we got two orders of Taquitos with Guacamole. I felt these were a little over priced, $9.50 for the two orders. That works out to $2.37 for each taquito, but that of course does not include the guacamole, so maybe they are worth it. They were not. Although they were decent, there was nothing that would make me crave these on my next visit.

Now on to the main dishes. Here we have Francisca's Carne Asada plate. She was pretty unhappy with the steak here. She felt that it was not as tender as it should be. She did feel that the rice and beans were good though.

Next up was Scott's meal, the Pancho Villa Combo. This consisted of a beef taco, a cheese enchilada, and a chili relleno. Scott enjoyed the enchilada because it was drenched in sauce. It looked like to much sauce to me, but different tastes for different people.

Katie went with her standard order at a Mexican place, when she got two Chicken Tacos. She liked the crispness of the tacos and the rice stood out for her. She felt that the rest of the dish however was just average.

The menu at La Perlita says they have the best carnitas in town. Honestly, I think they just might. The meat had a great flavor, and was very tender. I tore through this meal very quickly. The ends of the carnitas were a little crisp just like I like them. Very good plate.

So how does La Perlita rate? If I had to base it on just my plate they would be rated pretty well. Unfortunately we have to take into account the rest of the meals. Sadly, they are just an average Mexican restaurant. The bites of the other meals that I had did not impress. The prices might be a little on the high side for what you get. I hope Scott and his wife still want to hang out with us after reading this.

Out of five $2 hats, (because perlita in Spanish means little pearl, and Minnie Pearl wore a hat that had a $1.98 price tag on it), five being best to zero being worst, La Perlita gets 2.5 $2 hats.

La Perlita does not have a web site, but you can find information about them here:

 La Perlita Mexican Food on Urbanspoon


  1. "I hope Scott and his wife still want to hang out with us after reading this." - Funny stuff!

    And I hear you - perhaps the most perilous part of negative reviews is that you're essentially telling regular customers they have no taste. Bold of you not to pull any punches.

  2. Jeff - I had to be a little more delicate than I usually would be for this review because Scott is my boss. Hopefully I will not be unemployed soon. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I guess taste is very subjective. My husband and I have been going to La Perlita since it was in Santa Ana. His family is hispanic and we both agree that the food is excellent. The comment on the salsa is interesting. Their salsa is a chile salsa, a more traditional Mexican style as opposed to a tomato/pico de gallo style. As for the main dishes, you need to try their specialty dishes such as the ropa vieja, chile verde, the pollo a la perlita, the whole fried catfish or, if you dare, the birria-goat. My husband loves the birria. Their chicken tostada salad is my favorite because the chicken is moist and flavorful and they add fresh veggies to the salad.

  4. Anonymous - Thanks for the tips on their other dishes. I will definitely go back to try some of your suggestions. Thanks for the comment.