We've got good Cuban food here in Orlando, and fine Puerto Rican fare, but Mexican? Nada muy bueno. So upon landing in Newport Beach, California, we set out to find tacos. If you like California-Mex cuisine, here's where to eat in Newport Beach.
We'll start you with Bear Flag Fish Co., pictured above and below. It's a bustling little seafood store and restaurant on a trendy block of Newport Beach. You can order simple tacos or make your own. Look at the retail fish that's on ice, pick a type, and the staff will grill the swordfish, mahi, whatever, for you. The food in crazy-fresh and plenty flavorful. At the salsa bar, you'll find a terrific selection of robust add-ons. The ceviche was so good my husband went back and ordered a second helping. And the prices? Cheap. Lunch comes in at under $10.
Taco María isn't really in Newport Beach, but it's a quick drive away, in Costa Mesa. Lunch was so phenomal we were tempted to return for dinner. Better yet, it's in a sleek, upscale mall (with no sign identifying it) loaded with highly touted mini restaurants. On another visit, I'd try coffee at Portola Coffee Lab and tapas at Pueblo.
Taco María serves tacos for lunch, a prix fixe for dinner. Sitting inside or out, this tiny restaurant is a flavor giant. A corn-based appetizer called esquites -- no words. Just get it. Fly into SNA just to have a visit with this starter. Not that you'll like your entrees any less. We had the fried fish taco, a steak taco, and the chicken mole taco. Erase from memory any food you've tasted with similar descriptions. Taco María will spoil you forever; you will never again love another fish, steak, or chicken mole taco.
While we're here, a few random Newport Beach-area food pics:
I ate well in Newport Beach, and none of these restaurants is more than a 20-minute drive from the boutique, friendly, funky, amenity-rich Newport Beach Hotel. In food and lodging, I got my money's worth during the entire visit.