The Best Chorizo in Orange County
I grew up in the culturally diverse neighborhood of South Carson, at the border of Wilmington. Living in this neighborhood, everyone had “a guy” who made the best chorizo, tamales, or tortillas. Often, the chorizo was sold out of igloo coolers in shady street deals.
Our family friend, Maria, had the best chorizo hookup. The nighttime chorizo drop offs usually involved an idling car and a quick exchange of cash for a paper bag full of chorizo. What followed was a binger of “chorizo in everything” meals from eggs to spaghetti. Hell, even the family dog got a taste of the meat crack.
When the family moved to South Orange County, over 15 years ago, we no longer had our chorizo dealer. I have visited carnecerias from Dana Point to Stanton and couldn’t find a close replacement.
It was not until I tried Chef Ben LeFleche chorizo flatbread at the Shades in Hilton Waterfront Beach resort that I found a close replacement. I asked him where the chorizo came from, he responded with “the best chorizo in Orange County comes from Ochoa’s.”
What I liked about Ochoa’s Chorizo
Ochoa’s Chorizo store started many years ago selling house made chorizo to the local community. I’m sure there were some back alley deals initially, although today they have expanded to two brick and mortar locations, Santa Ana and Anaheim. I have visited Ochoa’s three times and tried every flavor of Chorizo they have to offer. In my opinion, Ochoa’s has better chorizo than the uber street corner chorizo dealers in the Wilmington area.
What makes Ochoa’s chorizo so good?
First of all, their chorizo has a deep flavor. I called my family and told them that I found a chorizo close to our old favorite; I was met with cynicism. After I cooked it up, everyone loved the flavor. Although my mother said she prefers it a little sweeter, I disagree.
Second, Ochoas chorizo does not create a puddle of oil when you cook it, a major key trait of superior chorizo. Their chorizo contains only 10% fat in the pork variety, which results in a better flavor and texture.
Third, the chorizo is all made by hand. The meat is ground in house with a secret seasoning blend and then hand cranked into yard long natural casings. They then air dry the chorizo in shop and then refrigerate for sale. There is not short cuts in the ingredients or process.
Forth, this is a family business that started almost 30 years ago when they made it out of their house and sold it out of coolers to the local neighborhood. In Santa Ana, the Ochoas’s was everyone’s “chorizo guy.” Since their street dealing days, the Ochoa family has since have opened up two shops and expanded capacity. Old school family chorizo recipes and sausage making techniques are the best!
Flavors of Ochoa’s Chorizo
Here is a quick snapshot of the flavors they offer
This chorizo has a nice bouquet of flavors, it is very mild such that my Abuela with stomach issues was still able to eat it. I have used this chorizo in so many dishes I loose track at this point, from burgers to Chiliquiles.
This one is very spicy, I think it is made with habeneros. When I cooked this one in the house, everyone started coughing from the fumes. I recommend turning on the stove vent or cooking this one outside. The flavors have a sharp spike of heat up front, then eases into the complex flavor layers. The next bite you take the spiciness returns like a psycho ex-girlfriend that hurts, but you can’t stop having more.
Pork Verde (Medium)
This chorizo is as greener than an Irvine homeowner association lawn. The comparison to Irvine ends there, the flavor is diverse and spicy. It is flavorful upfront and then you get hit with a sneaky attack at the back-end spice at the back of the bite. Since it is made with Jalapeno, the flavor and heat builds up in your mouth.
I liked the flavor and texture of the chicken version, the spice level is between the mild and hot. Sometimes you don’t feel like pork, the chicken is lighter is texture and feel on the palate.
Even vegetarians and vegan friends like chorizo. It is made without the casing, served loose. The flavor and texture is very similar to the pork, although you can still very much tell that you are dealing with soy. Veges and Vegans in your life will appreciate the sausage replacement.
Where is Ochoa’s ?
Ochoa’s has two locations, Santa Ana (off warner) and Ochoa’s #2 in Anaheim. When you walk in the door the operation is legit. Set up like a butcher shop with a refrigerator case and freshly stuffed chorizo hanging up going through an air drying process. Service is friendly and she took her time to explain each of the chorizo options, folks speak English so don’t feel intimidated. These are honest working folks and their passion for their craft shows.
Ochoa’s Chorizo Store
Address: 220 West Warner Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92707
Address: 2827 East Lincoln Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92806
Ochoa’s chorizo costs $8 per Meter for any flavor. Uncased chorizo is $3.75/lb for meat and $3.50/lb for the Soy Chorizo. The house made beef jerkey is also amazing at $15/lb.
My Final Thoughts
If you are looking for good chorizo, I recommend Ochoa’s. Some of the Orange County’s best restuarants use their chorizo and they have been sold in Orange County for the past 30 years. Ochoa’s chorizo has been a staple in Santa Ana for years and I agree they can be considered Orange County’s Best Chorizo.
See my other food posts
Pub Thirty Two (Mission Viejo)
Solita Brunch (Huntington Beach)
Hopscotch Tavern (Fullerton)
La Vida Cantina (Costa Mesa)
Boathouse Collective (Costa Mesa)
Gabi’s in Old Town Orange (Orange)
Bru Market and Grill in Lake Forest (Lake Forest)
JP23 Smokehouse (Fullerton)