LA Times Food Critic Names O.C.’s Taco Maria as Restaurant of the Year

Taco Maria's Jadineros Taco.
Taco Maria's Jadineros Taco.


Carlos Salgado Taco Maria
Photograph by Anne Watson

This week, Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold named Costa Mesa’s Taco Maria the newspaper’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year, citing its chef, Carlos Salgado, for giving L.A. and Orange County “a sense of place.”

This doesn’t surprise us here at Orange Coast. Growing up in Orange, Salgado worked at his family’s restaurant there before attending culinary school, becoming a Bay Area pastry chef, and returning home to launch a food truck. At Taco Maria, his first brick-and-mortar, it became Salgado’s life mission to honor and elevate the foods of his family’s table. In June 2016,Orange Coastdocumented his story in an excerpt from Patric Kuh’s new book, “Finding the Flavors We Lost.” For readers who missed it, you can find that profile here.

You’ll also find our thoughts about Taco Maria in the story we did on O.C.’s Best Tacos (hint: Salgado leads the pack).

Plus we got to attend a special dinner Salgado did last year with his mentor, Daniel Patterson. You can read about that amazing night here

Orange Coastreaders know all about the amazing creativity happening at Taco Maria every day. Finally, it’s worth noting that this month, as one of eight area semifinalists and the only one from Orange County, Salgado is up for the 2018 Best Chef West award by the James Beard Foundation. The awards gala is May 7, in Chicago.


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