|Photo courtesy of Yelp|
Jeri and I ate at Taco Adobe recently. We had seen this small, cozy looking restaurant on Lemon Street, while looking through the antique shops at the Orange Circle, in the city of Orange and had been anticipating real southwestern comfort food. While the food is not bad, it wasn't what I expected. They call themselves a Southwestern restaurant but there is nothing southwestern about it. The food is Mexican, to be sure, but of a somewhat trendy or hip style. Not quite so commercial, like such restaurants as El Torito or Acapulco, just not exactly my style. Still, the place seems to be packing in the lunch crowd. So they must be doing something right.
Whenever the term "Southwestern" is used in a restaurant it usually denotes a style of cuisine pertaining to the Mexican American cooking of New Mexico and Arizona, or maybe more accurately, to the concept of "Southwestern Cuisine" as popularized by southwestern chef, Mark Miller.
Jeri had the green chicken enchilada, with rice and beans. The rice was more like a pilaf than a true Mexican or Spanish rice, and the beans were black beans. Black beans have their place in Mexican and other Latin cooking but there is no place for them in real, authentic southwestern cooking. The green chicken enchilada was made with something more akin to a salsa verde and made with tomatillos. An enchilada made, a la southwestern, would certainly be made with New Mexico chiles. I had three soft tacos; one carne asada, one al pastor and one carnitas, and while they weren't bad they were nothing to write home about. The table salsa wasn't bad but it was too mild for me to eat with my tacos. They do have a "hotter" sauce but you have to ask for it. It was actually pretty good.
Now, it might be unfair, especially having recently returned from a vacation in New Mexico, and eating the real honest to goodness food of the southwest, to be so critical but I consider myself, if not an authority on southwestern and all forms of Mexican cooking, at the very least an avid aficionado and I just feel if you're going to call yourself a southwestern restaurant there should be some attempt, besides the name, at authenticity.
A better choice for a good Mexican meal in the area would be Jalapeno's on Glassell Street two blocks over. Their food is fantastic. A much better example of a Southwestern restaurant that, while somewhat trendy, has at least remained true to it's southwestern roots is Chimayo's (as in Chimayo, New Mexico) in Newport Beach. The food there is really, really good.
My overall opinion is that Taco Adobe is a good restaurant that serves good food but it is just not my cup of tea.
121 N. Lemon St.
Orange, Ca 92856