Our lunch at Taco Maria Los Angeles was my favorite meal from our southern California trip (Christmas 2018). It is among the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in California, and maybe anywhere in the world (note: I have not been to Mexico . . . yet).
The Michelin Guide seems to agree. In fact, just a few days ago (June 4, 2019), The Michelin Guide announced its first ever guide to the state of California. It granted over 90 restaurants Michelin stars. Most notably, it gave Taco Maria the unique status of being the only Mexican restaurant to be granted a Michelin star this year.
Chef Carlos Salgado is originally from Mexico but spent over ten years training in some of the best kitchens in the US, including 2-Michelin starred restaurants like Coi in San Francisco and Commis in Oakland. He opened Taco Maria in 2013.
Prior to achieving a Michelin Star, Chef Salgado has been a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef West consecutively for the past four years, and was named Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2015.
I was only able to enjoy a quick lunch here, but the food was so good it made me want to come back and try more dishes the next time I am in Los Angeles. Here is a look at some of the dishes we had!
Aguachile ($13 USD), a refreshing ceviche with chopped Hokkaido scallops, cucumber, jalapeno, avocado, and chili oil. The flavors were beautifully balanced and ingredients were top notch. Loved this dish.
The taco shells are stunning in their deep black color, made from heirloom varieties of corn grown by small family farmers in Mexico. We tried three different types of tacos, and they were all excellent.
Pescado Frito ($18 USD) fish tacos were made with Passmore Ranch sturgeon, charred scallion aioli, cabbage, and tangerines.
Mole de Pollo ($15 USD) Jidori chicken, ancho-almond mole, queso fresco, and onion pickle
Arrachera ($15 USD) hanger steak, roasted chiles, applewood bacon, queso fundido
Quesadilla de Champinones ($12 USD) queso Oaxaca, oyster mushroom, and epazote cream.
General Thoughts – Taco Maria Los Angeles
I absolutely loved this restaurant. Chef Salgado’s approach in Taco Maria fuses together his rigorous culinary training together with top quality ingredients from Mexico. The resultant “Alta Californian” cuisine is fantastic.
The restaurant is extremely popular. They take reservations for brunch and dinner but not for lunch. We played it safe by showing up about 15 minutes before opening in order to ensure that we were able to join the first seating.
Definitely try this place if you want to try some of the most interesting and delicious Mexican-inspired food in California at the moment.
Taco Maria Los Angeles
3313 Hyland Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626