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Tableside Taqueros Will Cook Your Meal Live At This Mexican Restaurant

The only thing better than getting tacos fresh off the line from a taquero’s plancha? When that taco-making maestro is crafting his masterpieces exclusively for you and the squad.

At Descanso Restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA, you can enjoy that experience via their tableside griddles. It sounds like a “Mexican Benihana,” sure, but the dinner here is less about flashy chef tricks and more about serious flavor.

Helming Descanso’s kitchen and menu is Sergio Ortega, a native of Morelia, Michoacan that’s offering up a plethora of authentic fare alongside some local Californian twists. Amongst these includes a herbaceous choriqueso verde that’ll make your tastebuds sing and a Mexi Poke that marries together big eye tuna, soy sauce, and morita chilies to perfection.

At each plancha is a taquero, or “taco maker,” that Descanso uses to define their chefs that cook your entire meal. You start with some chicharron, chips, and salsa to snack on as the chef fires up some seasonal vegetables on the plancha. From there, it’s on to a take on Peruvian arroz chaufa that’s listed on the menu as “Mexican Fried Rice.”

For the main course, you have your choice of tacos, quesadillas, or cheesy alambres to order from. The tacos here are handmade with both blue and white masa for a unique two-toned tortilla, while the alambres are a true feast fit for sharing. Cheese is fried directly on the plancha while meat, bacon, onions, toreado chilies, avocado salsa, and poblanos sizzle together. Everything is then swiftly combined together to create a flavor bomb whose aroma stretches as far as the cheese pulls the alambres yields.

It may not have the flash and flair of a certain teppanyaki chain, but the artistry and aroma of the food here are intricate and delicious enough to weave their own unforgettable story that’s 100% worth the reservation.

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5 Instagram-Worthy Foods In Westside Costa Mesa

Tucked just above the beautiful shores of Newport and Huntington Beach is one of Orange County’s oldest and most historic cities — Costa Mesa.

Costa Mesa also happens to be the local Chomping Ground of our friend and popular Instagram foodie, @Dradevsfood.

Join us as we take a ride with Drade to see how he spends his time cruising through local eats within Costa Mesa’s vibrant and ever-expanding food scene.

First stop, Wild Goose Tavern, which is known for a robust list of signature cocktails, gourmet burgers and a super laid back vibe. Drade highly recommends the caprese burger, a juicy burger stacked with a thick slice of fried mozzarella, cilantro chimichurri, and garlic aioli.     

Don’t forget a Wild Goose Sour to go along with your burger, though. This fresh take on the classic whiskey sour – made with Basil Hayden’s, angostura bitters, egg white, and lemon – is not to be missed.

Donuts, anyone? If you’re in Costa Mesa, Sidecar Doughnuts is a must-see for any level of donut lover. Sidecar has been supplying the Orange County scene with delicious, colorful and seasonal donuts for years.

If there’s a must-have at Sidecar, it has to be the Eggs Benedict Donut — made with a poached egg, Benton’s ham, and infused with a homemade basil hollandaise.   

Now it’s time for a steak dinner at Boathouse Collective. One of the most popular plates is the off-the-menu – but always available – 20 oz. ribeye served with yakimo, a.k.a. Japanese sweet potato, and miso butter.

This perfectly cooked, juicy steak is packed with flavor, and the miso butter provides the perfect depth to the dish.

One of the greatest things about Costa Mesa’s proximity to the ocean is the access to super fresh, super delicious seafood at all times. If you’re in the mood, there’s no better spot to check out than Catalina Fish Kitchen.

While there’s plenty to choose from, do yourself a favor and go with the LSB Burrito stuffed with Lobster, Shrimp and Bacon. This surf and turf burrito is smothered in a homemade gumbo sauce (per request) and is a surefire way to make all your Instagram followers jealous.  

For some lighter fare, Oak & Coal is your go-to spot for some Kimchi Dumplings. These perfectly handcrafted dumplings are stuffed with chicken and pork and will become an instant favorite.

Thanks for showing us around, Drade! Make sure to visit https://www.travelcostamesa.com/eatcation/ to learn more about the foodie scene in Costa Mesa.

And don’t forget to tag all your pics with #eatcation!


Created in partnership with Travel Costa Mesa

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Top Chef Amar Santana Has A Luxurious Uni Scrambled Egg Dish You Need In Your Mouth Right Now

Amar Santana is a product of Queens, New York, but has found a new home on the West Coast, as chef and partner of Vaca in Costa Mesa, and Broadway By Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, California.

After finishing as a finalist on Bravo’s well-known culinary elimination show, Top Chef, in 2016, it’s safe to say Santana’s culinary resume is intimidating.

Yet, his humble demeanor paired with his competitive passion for cooking – along with an outside-the-box approach in creating vibrant, imaginative delicacies – is exactly what makes this Southern California chef and his cuisine “Foodbeast Approved.”

Recently, FOODBEAST was able to catch up with Chef Santana at Vaca, a Spanish-style tapas restaurant in Costa Mesa, where he whipped up one of the most elegant items on the menu.

Erizos con huevos, softly translated to “uni scrambled eggs,” consists of a freshly cut sea urchin with a mixture of soft scrambled eggs, served with toast and housemade miso butter.

If you’ve never had sea urchin before, don’t let this enigma deter you. The Erizos con huevos is creamy and full of umami, and manages to be the shining star despite a Vaca menu consumed with meaty options like Jamon de Iberico and pork belly.

Vaca is located in Costa Mesa – also known as ‘City of the Arts’ – a bustling neighborhood on the Newport Beach border full of good food and culture. If you hadn’t heard of this spot previously, it’s for certain Amar Santana and Vaca should be on your radar in 2018.

To learn more about the Costa Mesa food scene, visit travelcostamesa.com/eatcation. Don’t forget to tag your photos with #eatcation!

Photos by Pete Pham


Created in partnership with Travel Costa Mesa

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Watch Top Chef Richard Blais Make Us His Iconic Fried Chicken Sandwich

For those who don’t consider fried chicken a delicacy — it’s probably because they’ve never tried The Crack Shack, one of San Diego’s most legendary fried chicken joints, led by well-known Top Chef and restaurateur, Richard Blais.

FOODBEAST recently caught up with Chef Blais at his newest Crack Shack location in Costa Mesa, California, to check out one of the most iconic fried chicken sandwiches ever created — the Firebird.

It all starts with The Crack Shack’s signature Nashville-style fried chicken. After marinating the chicken in buttermilk and pickle juice, the chicken is doused with a helping of “Crack spice” – a signature blend of herbs and spices – before it’s fried.

Now, it wouldn’t be fair to call this sandwich “The Firebird” without throwing this perfectly crispy chicken breast into something that’ll get your forehead sweaty, which is why every Firebird is dunked in a hot sauce blend of paprika and cayenne pepper right before it’s set on the toasted bun.

The Firebird comes together with a double helping of Ranch dressing on each bun, some fresh pickles and crispy onion straws.

Next time you’re craving fried chicken, just know that The Crack Shack is FOODBEAST Approved.

To plan out your next foodie-venture in Costa Mesa, visit travelcostamesa.com/eatcation and tag your pics with #eatcation!

Photos by Pete Pham


Created in partnership with Travel Costa Mesa

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#foodbeast Brand Cravings Drinks Features FOODBEAST Products Restaurants SPONSORED Sweets

Blackberry Lemonade Stuffed Croissants Are The Next-Level Baked Good You Need To Try

For the past six months, the pastry-baking geniuses running Costa Mesa’s newest dessert hot spot, Dough & Arrow, have made a name for themselves as OC’s newest baker on the block, consistently whipping up colorfully decadent cookies, croissants and specialty coffee beverages.

Now, Dough & Arrow’s two newest creations enlist the help of a well-known sweet, summertime beverage that is sure to turn heads all winter long.

The Blackberry Lemonade Stuffed Croissant is made with purple dough, and stuffed with blackberry jam, and Dough & Arrow’s creamy custard filling. Then, this soft, flaky Instagram-worthy pastry is topped with a bright purple Blackberry Lemonade glaze, made with Hubert’s Blackberry Lemonade.

Another new addition to Dough & Arrow’s robust menu of coffee beverages, cakes, and pastries is the Lemon Cream Pie Tea. This creamy treat is made with mixture of Dough & Arrow’s popular Black Tea, Hubert’s Lemonade and is topped off with a thick helping of whipped lemon cream.  

Whether you want to warm up, or just chill out, a stop at Dough & Arrow in Costa Mesa will sweeten up your holiday season with some unique lemonade-infused creations you won’t find anywhere else.  

Photos by Pete Pham


Created in partnership with Hubert’s Lemonade

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5 Sinful Eats To Chow Down On In Costa Mesa

Culinary entrepreneur and Southern California foodie Thomas Pham has an undeniable influence within the vibrant SoCal food scene.

He holds a heavyweight belt as a well-respected social media influencer, and we have him to thank for bringing an East Coast food icon to sunny California in the form of the popular mediterranean restaurant Halal Guys, which opened in Southern California back in 2015.

With that in mind, we were stoked when Thomas let us tag along with him as he munched his way through some of his favorite spots in Costa Mesa, California.

During our first stop, we anchored ourselves down at West Coast Fish, located within The Camp in Costa Mesa. West Coast Fish is fairly new but already booming with popularity. Thomas ordered one of his favorite dishes: The Bjorn Battered Tacos.


Photo by Christian Bourdeau

The temperature was rising and we needed something to cool off, so naturally, Thomas recommended we stop by Creamistry for some made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream. Thomas grabbed one of his favorite frozen treats, the Taro Nitro MilkShake, topped with marshmallows and Fruity Pebbles cereal.

Next, we drove over to Paderia to watch Thomas tear open one of his favorite pastries, a cheese ensaymada — a soft, Spanish pastry made with sweet bread covered with sugar and filled with with cheese. It’s the perfect combination of sweet and savory.

After indulging our sweet tooth, we headed over to Orange County’s East Borough to indulge in an OC favorite: the French Pho Dip. Made with beef brisket, Thai basil, bean sprouts, onions, and Sriracha hoisin aioli on a fresh baguette, this culinary creation is an incredible fusion of East meets West, and should be on your list if you haven’t tried it yet.

Finally, for our last bite, Thomas took the gang over to Capital Noodle Bar to try another East-meets-West creation: Thai Basil Spaghetti. The dish was made with minced pork, bell pepper, egg, fresh chilli, Thai basil, and spaghetti noodles.

Thanks, Thomas. We’re stuffed.


Created in partnership with Hansen’s

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Hit-Or-Miss

This Cool Coastal Sandwich Is Topped With A Fried Soft Shell Crab

Fish, urchins, octopus, eel; with so many delectable protein options out there to offer, it is no wonder we so often look to the sea for new ideas and inspiration when it comes to food. If you disagree, ask yourself: are you feeling crabby?

Those lucky enough to live along the southern California coastline can embrace their crabby sides by enjoying a Fried Soft Shell Sandwich, the newest addition to the menu at West Coast Fish in Costa Mesa, CA.

Photos by Peter Pham

The concept was created by West Coast’s Roy Abi-Najm. Inside the sandwich, you will find a whole fried soft shell crab, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and ‘bootleg Mac sauce’ — all on one perfectly palm-sized bun.

The combination of crunchy crab and classic sandwich toppings make for a fresh, West Coast twist, and the taste of the sandwich overall is reminiscent of the salty sea itself. It also makes you want to dip your toes into the Pacific — and pronto!

The special promotion item can be yours for a mere $10 — for a limited time only at West Coast Fish. A portion of each purchase also benefits Project Hope Alliance.

This briny beauty is fit for just about anyone living above sea level.


Created in partnership with West Coast Fish

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I Went To A Wu-Tang Dinner That Was Nothing To F*ck With

wutang-menu

This Wu-Tang Clan-themed pop-up dinner was nothing to fuck with. That’s for sure.

Mesa Lounge, a restaurant and bar located in Costa Mesa, CA, is known for having various chefs come in and hold pop-up dinners. One of the most recent ones we were fortunate enough to be invited to was hosted by our very own chef Linh Nguyen. The theme: The Wu-Tang Clan.

Mesa has a monthly rotating chefs table that’s music themed. When the Wu-Tang theme was brought up, the Mesa staff thought it would be appropriate for me to guest chef, because of my love for hip-hop and being the former executive chef at the Crosby.

The Crosby was a very hip-hop-fluenced restaurant venue that was located in Downtown Santa Ana. The restaurant closed its doors in early 2014, though many people still remember it fondly.

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Linh’s passion for Wu-Tang goes way back.

My love for hip-hop culture started when I was around 10. I was DJing at 12 and the first time I heard the Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) record I was awestruck. It was one of the first albums I bought in ’93: the Golden Era of hip-hop. It was an album where every verse was dope and every track could get played till my record was worn.

With the help of fellow chefs Ashley Guzman, Aron Habiger, and Mesa mixologist Katerina Mikoultchik, Linh set forth creating his Wu-Tang Dinner. He even got blessing from Wu-Tang affiliate, Killah Priest.

Killah Priest gave me the blessing for the #WUTANG #chefstable August 31st wed @mesalounge Happy bday Killah!

A photo posted by Chef Linh Nguyen (@cheflinhnguyen) on

Here’s what was on the menu, with each dish cleverly named after a Wu-Tang track close to Linh’s heart. The Warrior is the hero of the course and the Spirit is the alcoholic pairing to accompany it.

Can It All Be So Simple

wutang-turnips

Warrior: Roasted Tokyo Turnips, Miso Brown Butter, Black Sesame, Turnip Greens, Crunch Garlic

Spirit: Anna de Codorniu, Sparkling Cava

Ooh Baby I Like It Raw

wutang-hamachi

Warrior: Hamachi, Blood Orange, Quinoa, Compressed Melon, Mint, Chili Threads

Spirit: Rum, Montenegra, Blood Orange, Lemon, Thyme

Da Mystery Of Chessboxin

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Warrior: 6 Minute Scotch Egg, Bulgogi Sauce, Kimchi Puree, Shiso, Furikake.

Spirit: Gin, Melon, Lemon, Shiso Mint, “Smoke”

Wu-Tang Clams Ain’t Nuthing To F*** With

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Warrior: Manila Clams, Spanish Chorizo, Tomato, Fennel, Harisa, Thai Basil

Spirit: Tequila, Grapefruit, Lemon, Cucumber, Thai Basil, Jalapeno

Tri-Umph

wutang-triumph

Warrior: Wakame, Tri Tip, Burnt Onion, Rainbow Carrots, Carrot Top Pistou, Fried Enoki, Radish Sprouts

Spirit: Smith & Hook, Cabernet Sauvignon

C.R.E.A.M. (by Ashley Guzman)

wutang-cream

Warrior: Hazelnut Dacquise, Caramel, Namelaka, Black Truffle Ice Cream, Edible Gold

Spirit: Apple Brandy, Aged Rum, Vanilla, Falernum, Ancho Reyes, Nitro Cold Brew, Chocolate Bitters

—–

The meal was accompanied by a live band playing Wu-Tang covers and featured Chef Nguyen coming out to chat with his patrons and guide them through each course. Fellow Foodbeast Molly and I were throughly impressed with the concept, even after going to many tastings and dinners ourselves over the years.

Here’s what she had to say:

I think the dinner says a lot about how food and the way it is experienced is changing. The food was both inspired by and paired with their music and, to me, it felt like with this dinner we were essentially experiencing a crossover of multiple mediums, and considering and digesting multiple artistic aspects. In other words, I really liked how engaging the experience was.

Shout out to the Wu-Tang dinner crew for the outstanding dinner. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

(Guzman, Nguyen, Habiger)

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