Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cheese-topia in RSM

Mi Casa
22322 El Paseo
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688

Rancho Santa Margarita is not somewhere that you often think of with awesome dining options. This inland oasis is all of the sudden burgeoning with new restaurants. BJ's opened up late last year, Bruxie opened this past week, and now Costa Mesa favorite, Mi Casa is now gracing inland diners with their Mexican staples.

We reviewed Mi Casa about a year ago. You can read that review here. At that time we went twice for dinner, which we have also done at this new outpost in RSM. This new Mi Casa has a much more modern feel to it. Taking over the old El Torito space, this restaurant seems brighter, with windows dominating one entire side of the eating area. There is also a large patio area that offers customers the chance to eat outside.

Both times we have been here have been on Friday nights at six. Our first trip was their first Friday being opened. Of course there were the usual hiccups of any new restaurant. Our wait time was said to be thirty minutes, when in reality it was just over an hour to get to the table. Service was spotty on our first visit. Waiters were missing for long stretches, and food was taking a long time to make it out of the kitchen. The staff at times really seemed a little overwhelmed. All of these were totally understandable to me. So, when Chuck and Stephanie decided they wanted to hangout with us, we suggested trying Mi Casa again to see if some of the bugs have been worked out. Let's see if this was the case.

After we were seated we were brought these chips and salsa, then we ordered the Guacamole ($3). The first basket of chips were all broken, small pieces, so we asked for another basket. These were much better. The salsa here is a little on the runny side, but with a gentle kick. Stephanie likes a spicier salsa, so they brought us out a Habanero salsa. This was the real stuff. Very spicy, and a little more chunky. I will ask for this on future visits here. The guacamole was fair, nothing too out of the ordinary.

For those of you that have been to either Mi Casa restaurant, you know that this place is all about the cheese. They cheese everything, including this appetizer, the Carne Asada Fries ($9). This appetizer is made up of seasoned fries, cheese, carne asada, cheese, sour cream, cheese, chives, and cheese. This was gone in an instant. The cheese really dominates this plate, but the steak and fries are prevalent here. The fries could be a little crisper, and this would make this even better. Four people could split this easily. We did not get the nachos, but they looked really good as well.

Both Chuck and I got the same thing. Way to be original Chuck! We both went with the Large Mexican Pizza ($14). He ordered his with chicken and I got mine with chile verde pork. Here they take a tortilla and top it with the meat of your choice and a plethora of items including; olives, tomatoes, beans, green chiles, onions, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream. The menu says this serves 2 to 3 people, but I had no problem finishing this. I had wanted this without olives, but it came with them anyways. Chuck really seemed to like his dinner as well, but he had more to take home than myself.

Both of the girls got Combinations Dinners at Mi Casa. Let's Start with Katie's 2 Item Combo ($11). She went with her standard combo meal at a Mexican restaurant, a Chicken Taco and a Cheese Enchilada. Katie felt both of these items were very solid. She opted for the black beans, instead of the refried beans, and was happy with her choice. This platter of food was so big, that she had plenty of food to send with me to work the next day.

Sorry for the lack of diversity on this trip. I guess they all forgot I was food blogging. Chuck's much better half, Stephanie got a Two Item Combo ($12), as well. She changed it up a bit from Katie's by getting a Chile Verde Enchilada and the same Chicken Taco that Katie got. This plate was so big that she had the pork enchilada put in a box for lunch the next day. She really enjoyed the chicken taco with the habanero salsa. The beans were more to her liking than the rice.

After eating at Mi Casa twice in the last two weeks I have come to the conclusion that I like Mi Casa, but I am not in love with it. I really enjoy the fact that they opened up in RSM though. This is the kind of Mexican comfort food that this area needed. The Mexican food here is not going to wow anyone, but it is consistently good, in a very safe way. Mi Casa kind of has a Don Jose's vibe to it. The service was much better on our second trip here. They really righted the ship quickly. Food came out very fast, and our waiter was on top of everything all night long. We will definitely be back to have a side of Mexican food, with our cheese.

Out of five lips, (because President George H. Bush once ate at the Costa Mesa location of Mi Casa, and he once famously asked us to read his lips), five being best to zero being worst, Mi Casa gets 2.5 lips.

For more information about Mi Casa, click here:

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