Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mariscos Puerto Esperanza -- marvelous-o

Puerto Esperanza
1724 N Tustin St Orange, CA 92856
(714) 998-3599

I never thought I was going to say this, but this is a Mexican restaurant like no any other I've ever experienced. The decor was wonderfully festive with vibrant colors and the warm welcome we received from the server added to the experience. This place specializes in seafood but they offer meat dishes as well.

Chips and salsa are brought out quickly as well as drinks if you're having them. The salsa is smokey and flavorful with a good kick to it. We had to get this refilled three times, that's
how good it was.

Since a friend of mine steered me towards this place, I went ahead and ordered something she recommended -- the bistec encebollado -- for my son since he's not a fan of seafood
. Hubby and I got fish -- him, Salmon Yucatan, me, Pescado Zarandeado Robalo (striped bass). Both fish dishes are cooked on banana leaves which not only makes for wonderful presentation, but also, an aroma that enhances the dish further.

We started off with ensalada fiesta, a simple salad comprising of romaine lettuce, julienned carrots and jicama, tomato wedges, and the main attraction -- grilled nopales or cactus. The citrusy dressing was outstanding. It was simple and that's what makes it so special.... nothing too complicated or heavy. Just some olive oil with some citrus and jalapeno.

It took a while for our entrees to arrive and we knew they were cooking it with care. We could see them doing it at the open kitchen, the two chefs giving the food their loving touch. When our entrees arrived we were first blown away by how lovely the dishes looked. This is new for us since we usually go to hole-in-the-wall Mexican establishments where food tastes good but may not be as appealing on the eye. But none of that here. Everything was beautiful and tasted just as delicious if not better. Bistec encebollado was grilled to perfection. An ample piece of pounded steak topped with sauteed onions, peppers and salsa fresca served with your choice of rice -- and there are two types -- or black beans and grilled vegetables.

My striped bass was huge. In fact, it was enough for two. This isn't a cheap dish at $15
/lb and my fish alone was $25, but it was well worth it. The orange sauce was tart, sweet, salty, the perfect accompaniment. Served with salsa fresca and pickled onions and carrots with sliced avocados, the mix of all the flavors come together like a burst on your palate.

I'm not a fan of salmon so I did not enjoy hubby's dish as much, but then again, I would never order salmon so it doesn't matter anyway. His dish was a little sweet since it was topped with a roasted corn and grilled cactus relish but he enjoyed it very much.

The server brought out a separate dish of sides for us to share -- I thought that was the nicest gesture! The portions were huge so we couldn't finish everything. But one thing's for sure.... this is on my top three places for Mexican food!

No comments: