Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen
141 S. Glassell Street
Orange, Ca.
714 633 3038

Who knew that “Old Town” in the city of Orange (in Orange County) was such a conglomeration of charming restaurants and ubiquitous quaint antique shops?   

Just off the main plaza on Glassell Street, this former antique store is covered in used brick walls and brick floors, with an exposed lighted rough-beam ceiling.  Sprawled across one wall is an assortment of multicolored glass (think Dale Chihuly), while the opposite brick wall hosts hand wrought iron sconces, all lending a festive and authentic feel from the moment you enter the restaurant.
We went for lunch, and talked the pretty young hostess, Kelsey, into seating us outside (inside is beautiful but too dark for our daytime tastes). 
Michael started with a serious jalepeno margarita, covered with floating cucumbers.  The spice is the secret of this drink.   
Scott went virgin with the blended guava margarita, which was so smooth and delicious, he never missed the alcohol.
Gabbi Patrick, of Mexican extraction, brings regional Mexican food from the kitchen to the plate.  Aaron was our waiter, and he was well versed and accomplished, especially for a more casual restaurant.  He rattled off so many delectable options that it was difficult to choose which ones we wanted; they all sounded that good. 
We munched on a basket of salt-free chips.  They very nicely accommodated our request to set the salty ones aside.  It took them a long time to bring us our first course, but when they did, we started with the Ensalada de Peras, which was an interesting mélange of herbed chicken, pears, pine nuts, green beans, dried cranberries and goat cheese, lightly dressed with pear vinaigrette ($16).  Michael found it appealing and enjoyed it, but Scott found the chicken to have an odd and off-putting flavor; while the rest of the greens and ingredients were delicious. 
When Aaron brought us all our dishes, he used a napkin around his hand so that it never touched the dish—nice touch, who wants thumb in their plates.  Speaking of greens, all of the greens are locally sourced from the neighborhood farmers, but the chicken and meats are only “natural”, not organic (which they should be at the enthusiastic prices here at Gabbi’s).
The main courses were far more eventful than the salad.  Scott had the Puerco Poc-Chuc, which is a Mayan recipe of Kurobuta pork loin, adobe achiote marinade, grilled onions, habanero salsa, and fabulous platanos frijoles negros ($19).  This dish came as a tower of delicious fare, and it was stunningly delicious.  Even with the habanero sauce on the side, this dish was quite hot, but it was the most delicate and tasty mountain of pork that we’ve ever tasted.
Michael went for the Arrachera, which was grilled skirt steak, cebolla asada, guacamole nopales and Mexican corn (also $19).  This recipe hails from the northern regions of Mexico, the steak was flavorful and beautifully presented with piping hot corn tortillas (made a few feet away by a Mexican Senora) and included Mexican corn and a side plate of beans and superb plantains (which served as our dessert).

This little find made L.A.’s Mexican restaurants look pathetic but at $100 for lunch for two, it better be a cut above the rest.  It was the closest we’ve tasted since our meal with Rick Bayless in Chicago, and it’s well worth the drive.  Please, Gabbi, tell your servers and busboys that we are not “working on it”, we’re enjoying, and that’s just what we did!
Appetizingly Yours,

Michael and Scott
The Dining Duo

Posted by The Dining Duo | 10:49 AM | , , , , | 1 comments »

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  1. Katherine Page // February 25, 2013 at 10:03 AM  

    Sounds more than worth the prices. You do get what you pay for after all. What I especially like is the way the server used a napkin to keep his thumb from your frijoles. Wish more places would adopt this.

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