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"The Puesto Party Philosophy says that every party will be big, bright, loud, and refined. Imagine that a wall-to-wall crowd of stylish people is eating cool food and having colorful conversation, but your debutante grandmother is also there drinking a lot of tequila. Our parties are dedicated to her--and everyone else that comes to Puesto."
Puesto-Park Place is a taco stand taken ultra-upscale. Nestled into a cosmopolitan corner of Irvine's financial district, Puesto perches itself on a corner of flashy cars and perusing upscale diners, dressed down - of course - because this is "only a taco place." Or not.
The open air side patio fills with laughter and festivity. As customers order from the broad array of curated agave spirits, fresh margaritas and housemade aguas frescas, a conveyor belt rotates from waist to ceiling to retrieve the bartender's bottles from an overwhelming collection of offerings.
Borrowing from a wine tasting tradition, Puesto offers flights of tequila, mescal, as well as unique cervezas and hand-chosen wine.
It is a cooler evening tonight, and the heaters are roasting us just right. Our hostess asks us if we would like a blanket. A blanket? My thin-framed colleague agrees. Yes, it is a Mexican blanket that is spread across her lap.
Originally, we are offered a seat at the common table where couples or single dinners chit-chat easily, making new friends. We are shy tonight, so we take to the lounge tables. The ceilings are sweepingly high. The décor is sleek and modern.
It is the weekend of Cinco de Mayo, so the taco menu is streamlined to accommodate the celebration of all things Mexican tonight.
Gerente (Manager) Bob Landes stops by to chat to share his insights on a restaurant and "drinking hole" of which he is obviously both proud and delighted by. Every offering here is top-notch from its "snacks" to its "shared plate" to its "mariscos" and "bowls." The wait staff is also attentive, accessible and amiable.
Vegetarians might be happy to see that everything here is not meat and fish like most Mexican restaurants.
Some unique dishes you might want to try:
cured nopales, pickled red onions, cherry tomatoes, queso fresco
Caldo Tlalpeño $6
rich chicken & vegetable soup, chipotle, queso fresco, tortilla crisps, avocado
Spicy Carrots $5
pickled carrots, onions, jalapeños & herbs en escabeche
Veggie Tartare Tostaditas $8
cucumber, zucchini & radish confetti, Sikil Pak, cherry tomato, queso fresco, pickled red onion
Roasted Plantains $6
oven roasted sweet plantains, crema, queso fresco
Mercado Salad $12
mixed greens, cumin roasted carrots, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, avocado, queso enchilado, crunchy quinoa, agave lime vinaigrette
Mexican Street Bowl $10
height of season tropical fruit, cucumber, jicama, mango enchilado, chamoy, Tajin, lime
grilled corn, chile, lime, queso, crema
Ceviche Acapulco* $16
lime-cooked Baja striped bass, cucumber, tomato, serrano, pickled. onion, Mexican oregano, avocado, cilantro oil
Coctel Campechana* $14
market fish, shrimp, pulpo, avocado, salsa campechana, Tajin roasted peanuts
Tacos (3 for $16)
crispy melted cheese, chipotle-tomatillo braise, avocado
crispy melted cheese, garlic braised seasonal mushrooms, stone fruit jalapeño salsa, pickled onions, hearts on fire
Zucchini & Cactus
crispy melted cheese, calabaza a la Mexicana, cactus, avocado, cilantro-tomatillo
Chicken Tomatillo $17
chicken in chipotle-tomatillo braise, herb lime rice, black beans, red cabbage, salt-cured nopales, avocado, radish, habanero macadamias
Shrimp Veracruz $18
herb lime rice, Veracruz sauce with tomato, olive & garlic, crispy capers
Visit Puesto's website to learn peruse their menu and learn more about their design, menu offerings & unique philosophy.
Visit all of the Puesto restaurants to discover your favorite.
You can find a dining location in:
San Diego (headquarters)
Irvine - Laos Olivas
LAEater.com - "Orange County's 21 hottest restaurants."
Locale.com - This is an opening announcement that highlights outstanding features without critcal analysis.
Yelp - 4 stars
Google+ - 4.3 stars
Open Table - 4.5