Food Trends: Taco Thursdays

It’s a new day—perhaps the best day—for aficionados, especially in Santa Ana.
Photograph Courtesy of Mint Value Media

Chato’s Bar and Grill 

Known for his stylish Cal-Michoacán comfort fare, chef-owner Sergio Ortega expands his Tuesday specials to Taco + Tequila Thursday. Street-style tacos on guajillo-infused corn tortillas—notably masa-battered crispy fish with lychee slaw and burnt-chile aioli, and the al pastor taco with trompo-roasted pork and pineapple—are $3, preposterous for this quality. Draft beers ($5) and house margaritas ($6) are deals, but Patron Tequila flights ($15 for blanco, reposado, and añejo, plus extra añejo for $5) add a learning experience. 400 N. BROADWAY, SANTA ANA, 714-852-3256

El Mercado Modern Cuisine

Chef Fernando Franco can hardly contain his zeal for seasonal and regional Mexican ingredients, and he often expresses it on Taco Thursday. Past creations on house-made tortillas have included a white molé taco; a tinga-style hibiscus taco; and one with adobo carnitas and nanche salsa, made from the cherry-like fruit. The restaurant presents a trio of colorful, contrasting specialty tacos on a wooden board for $12. Margaritas, including tamarindo and serrano versions, are made with tequila ($8) or mezcal ($10). 301 N. SPURGEON ST., SANTA ANA, 714-338-2446 

Blinking Owl Distillery

Chef Luis Perez made some of the county’s best tacos at Lola Gaspar. For Taco Thursdays at nearby Blinking Owl, he does the same—only more elaborately and with more elevated ingredients. Versions on organic corn tortillas have featured 48-day, dry-aged New York strip and heirloom-tomato pico; wild tiger prawn, lamb merguez, Satina potatoes, and bourbon fry sauce; and grilled cauliflower, esquite, pecorino cheese, and worm salt. The weekly tacos are two for $20; seasonal boozy aguas frescas ($14) are a huge draw. 802 E. WASHINGTON AVE., SANTA ANA, 714-852-3947

La Vida Cantina

Popular for its massive palapa-topped patio with fire pits and pentagonal bar, this traditional-with-twists Mexican destination offers taco specials all day on Thursdays and Tuesdays. Chef Juan Martinez’s offerings are relatively straightforward: mahi-mahi soft tacos for $6 and shredded beef, shredded chicken, and, perhaps best of all, crispy potato tacos for $3. Buckets filled with Coronas and Bud Lights fly by at $5 per bottle; house margaritas are $7. The restaurant is adjacent to the cinemas atop the Triangle. 1870 HARBOR BLVD., COSTA MESA, 949-612-2349 

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