Orange Coast Magazine

Taste of O.C. | Priscilla Mayfield on food

 

Tortilla Republic Launches in Laguna Beach

From Kauai to West Hollywood to coastal Orange County

Tortilla Republic, the third restaurant in a chainette whose other locations are on Kauai and in West Hollywood, opened in Laguna Beach in the former Javier’s Coast Highway location. This Orange County outpost has its own O.C.-native chef: Chris Tzorin, recently of Laguna Niguel's Savannah Chop House. (Tzorin’s former chef de cuisine at Savannah, Manny Velasco, has taken the helm as executive chef there.)

The “modern Mexican” cuisine of Tortilla Republic includes name-checked ingredients like Mary’s Chicken and American Wagyu beef, plus more than 100 tequilas and mescals. At a recent media preview, I’m happily surprised to find that the kitchen doesn’t hold back on chile heat, even in its well-made margaritas, assuring that the jalapeño version ($11) packs a double kick of Dos Armadillos reposado tequila and serious spice. Of the salsas offered with chips, a school-bus-yellow papaya-habenero version is extra good. Salsas with fruit often are too sweet, and weak in chile power—not so here. A fat chicken flauta ($9.75) is cut crosswise for pretty plating and easy sharing. It’s made with the aforementioned Mary’s, and you’ll taste the difference. The TR Hamburguesa ($15.75) showcases that American Wagyu—ordered rare, it comes with a sizzling, super-dark char and warm red interior. I liked its generous toppings: chipotle aioli, tomatoes, caramelized onions, watercress, and roasted poblano, and the addition of jack cheese is just right. Luxurious confit duck enchiladas ($23) are bathed in roasted red pepper-habanero cream sauce, achieving an irresistible flavor profile of rich-plus-hot.

You could say that being the chef of an O.C. beach restaurant is starting to run in the Tzorin family. Chris’ father Luis was chef of 21 Ocean Front in Newport Beach. “I feel like I’ve come home,” says Tzorin the younger, adding, “I’m living the life, in my kitchen with an ocean view.”

 

Leave a comment:

· Subscribe to comments
Be the first to comment here.

OC Guides

Guides

OC Guides
  • Best of 2014: Nutty Brûlée

    No one can resist breaking into the sugary crust of crème brûlée, and this one packs an extra surprise with its abundance of silky-smooth chocolate-hazelnut custard below—thanks to the addition of Nutella. This sinful dessert is incredibly rich and best shared with a friend. $8
    704 E. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, 949‑673‑7173, theslidingdoorcafe.com

    Read More
  • Best of 2014: Honey Bee Chicken

    You’ll fall in lust with the chicken pieces at BBQ Chicken at Diamond Jamboree in Irvine. Fried in olive oil for a crunchy exterior, they’re tossed in a sweet honey sauce making them all the more delicious. $11 to $21

    Read More
  • Best of 2014: New York Pizza

    Seal Beach’s A Slice of New York makes pizza the way it’s supposed to be—with a thin, chewy crust that oozes cheese and can be enjoyed the New Yawker way: folded in half.
    142 Main St., 562-493-4430, asliceofnewyorkpizza.net

    Read More
  • Best of 2014: Bird-Watching

    When the throngs of beachgoers are too much, spend a day with the birds. Here, with the wind whipping off the ocean and herons, egrets, ducks, and more soaring above, you'll get a chance to be the amateur ornithologist you never knew you wanted to be. Free
    3842 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, 714-846-1114, bolsachica.org

    Read More
  • Best of 2014: Green Cleaners

    Sold from her website and a refitted retro travel trailer, these earth-safe cleaning products are Marilyn Nowak of Coto de Caza's propriety formulas. Products for laundry, surfaces such as glass and wood - even an ecological drain cleaner - all have dispenser bottles and bulk refills $8 to $48
    Resuming in September at Great Park Farmer's Market, Sand Canyon Avenue and Marine Way, Irvine, 949-292-1648, lilgreenwagon.com

    Read More

Expert Advice from Orange County's GrapeRadio Hosts
 
 
wine blog
 

stuff we love

Charitable Events Calendar