It took several years, but the highly anticipated El Mercado Modern Cuisine from Anepalco chef Daniel Godinez and partner José Cerrudo has opened adjacent to the Yost Theater in downtown Santa Ana—and it’s well worth the wait. Large and inviting, the restaurant has pillows lining the banquettes, paintings by local artists hanging on the walls, and there is patio dining on the promenade. The menu, when complete, will feature a dish inspired by each of Mexico’s 31 states, all intended as share plates. Dishes include Guerrero rolled chicken tacos in hot broth, Tabasco coconut ceviche, and Puebla mole chicken plated in the shape of Mexico. Bar manager Cesar Cerrudo’s list focuses mostly on Montelobos Mezcal. If he has a signature cocktail, it would be the Italian Wolf, made with mezcal, Galliano, Marsala, and licorice smoke and dramatically presented under glass.
301 N. Spurgeon St., Santa Ana, 714-338-2446, mercadomodern.com