Senoras y Senors, the search is over. Carmelita's in Laguna Beach finally makes me wanna hit the sauce. Since my migration from LA to OC, it's really been a struggle to find good Mexican food. (Who'd a thought, being closer to the border 'n all?)
To put things in perspective, my go-to place in LA has always been Loteria Grill at the Original Farmer's Market. (Not the Hollywood location, that one's too fancy.) What I love most about this Oaxacan stand is the rich, velvety sauces served with every dish.
Even though Carmelita's in Laguna Beach cooks Puebla style, their sauces still have depth and spices for days: Roja, Mole, Verde, Chipotle, Amarillo, and more. Besides authentic dishes like Albondigas Soup, Tacos Al Pastor, and Barbacoa, the menu offers prime-cut meats and modern twists too, like Dungeness Crab Jalapenos with Bacon & Cheese.
- gotta love a freebie, warm chile Black Bean Dip, Chips & sweet 'n spicy Salsa
- sweet, smokey, lime 'n Roasted Chile kick, Grilled Pineapple Margarita with Blanco Tequila $11
- ginormous chunks of pull-apart-tender Pork bathed in spicy red sauce, Tacos Al Pastor with stewed Pineapple, Corn Tortillas, Fresh Chopped Onion & Cilantro $13
- thick 'n steamed-like, smokey red sauce, oozing with cheese, Chicken Enchiladas Rojas with Red Onion, Crema, Cotija & Monterey Jack Cheeses $13 (2)
- fluffy texture with good color, just wish it tasted more red, Side of Spanish Rice
- pureed, a little bland, thank G for the Cheese, Side of Beans
You may have to come here a couple times to enjoy all they have to offer, as the hand model and I came here hungry and ended up taking half our food home (we only ordered two entrees).
The wait staff and bartenders made the meal delightful with their great sense of humor.
The fact that you can see and smell the ocean from your seat is a major bonus too.
217 Broadway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. 949 715-7829.