El Chinaco – Delicious Pupusas in Costa Mesa

Pupusas are an El Salvadorean dish that is a thick corn tortilla (think way thicker than a regular tortilla) that is filled with various things like cheese, meats etc that is totally closed (i.e. there is no opening to the interior).  They are grilled on a griddle with a little bit of oil.  When you drive around Latino areas of LA and Orange County you see places selling these all over the place as I believe they’re pretty popular.  Many years ago I first tried them at El Chinaco and I was really surprised at how good they are.  I recently stopped by here after Tacos & Tacos on my latest trip to show my GF what a pupusa is because she’s never seen nor heard of them (I’ve never seen one in NY although I’m sure they exist somewhere in NY).

El Chinaco is on 19th Street where most of the good Mexican / Latino food is in Costa Mesa.  Unlike most other restaurants in the area, it’s not a complete dive.  The interior looks like an upscale fast food type of place; it’s very clean and new looking.  The staff is friendly and the service is pretty decent.  The clientele is all over the place, but mainly a Latino clientele.

Chicharron Pupusa:

this is filled chicharron which is not the fried pork rind you normally think of, but is a paste of ground pork that is very tender and delicious.  It’s pretty self explanatory, but the exterior is really good, slightly crispy from being grilled on the griddle and the interior is awesome.  You eat it with a type of salsa that is more of a thicker tomato paste than a normal salsa and it is sweeter than normal salsa, but it goes really well with the pupusa. They also give you a cold pickled shredded cabbage on the side that is a really nice complement to the pipping hot pupusa. Be careful as it’s served so hot it melts the plastic forks you get. Also they have free fried green chilis with some salt on them you can pick up, they’re really flavorful and good, but be forewarned they are quite spicy.  Really good, definitely recommend. 8/10

560 19th St
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 722-8632

Tacos & Tacos – Really Good Tacos Al Pastor in Costa Mesa

19th Street is where most of the good Mexican food is in Costa Mesa and when I’m back at home in CA, I usually make at least one stop there.   I had heard that Tacos & Tacos, which I believe may have been called Tacolandia before, had good tacos al pastor.  Tacos al pastor are spicy spit-grilled pork (think of how a shawarma is cooked) that has been marinated for a long time.  When done correctly, it is very tender and flavorful.  Along with carnitas it is one of my favorite types of Mexican food and tacos are in turn one of my favorite foods in general.

Tacos & Tacos is a typical divvy Mexican joint with no real décor to speak of.  The people are pretty nice who work there and the clientele is mainly Mexican.

Tacos al pastor:

Wow this was really good, the meat was really tender and flavorful.  Not overly salty and has that great sort of spicy flavor that good tacos al pastor have.  It’s sort of hard to explain, but go try one and you’ll know what I’m saying.  These were the best tacos al pastor I’ve had in recent memory. 8.25/10


The chips and salsa were solid as well, they were fresh and the salsas they had were really good. 8/10

Short review, but this place is great and definitely worth trying out if you’re in the Costa Mesa area


580 W 19th St

Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(949) 645-0481