Pueblo – Orange County’s New Must Try Restaurant
Modern Flavors of Spain in Orange County
The Orange County food scene is evolving, but all the Modern American Gastro pub-esque scene is starting to get stale. Pueblo is one of Orange County’s newer “must try” restaurants, bringing a modern spin to the flavors of Spain.
Although some restaurants like SOCIAL are killing it, a new class of restaurants must evolve to keep the OC dining scene relevant. Almost a year, Pueblo opened at the OC Mix in Costa Mesa. It is one of a handful of restaurants that are breaking the Gastro pub mold.
Pueblo offers regional Spanish cuisine that pushes the evolving palate of the Orange County diner. Pueblo’s dishes are inspired by regional Spanish tapas, with an emphasis on fresh ingredients and modern cooking techniques.
The restaurant is located in the OC Mix at the SoCo in Costa Mesa, sharing the same quad as innovative restaurants ARC and Taco Maria.
Pueblo opened up with much fanfare, but it wasn’t without its share of growing pains. The first year brought the loss of their head Chef and being loved to death by diners looking for the next “It” restaurant.
The two Sous Chefs Tyler Nix and John Beber stepped up to take over the kitchen. As for a constantly full dining room, that is both a problem and a blessing for the restaurant.
I visited Pueblo twice, once for lunch and once for dinner, below are the dishes that I tried.
What we ordered
Crostini and fava bean hummus
The crostini with a fava bean hummus is a complimentary amuse from the kitchen. The fava bean hummus is dusted with paprika and served with lightly toasted crostini. It was better than bread and butter! This dish would go rather nice with a Chianti.
The queso fundido was perhaps one of our favorite dishes. Although this dish is starting to become en vogue at several Orange County restaurants, Pueblos nails it best. The dish blends goat cheese, black truffle, honey and toasted until a sticky semi-charred crust is formed.
What I liked is that you break the creme brulee style shells, to reveal a creamy hot cheese that is pure happiness. Spread that creamy cheese love liberally on the crostini.
Pulpo a la Gallaga
Pulpo a la Gallega name roughly translates to Galician style octopus.The Galacian style octopus is seasoned with paprika and cooked over an open fire. The octopus is served over a bed of sweet corn, fennel, fingerling potatoes, olives, bacon, onion and frisee. The result is a very dynamic salad, which is complex in flavor and spotlights the delicious ocotopus.
Side note: Pulpo a la Gallega this was the original county fair food for Northern Spaniards. Galacian fishermen would bring their octopus inland to the cattle fairs. The cooked the octopus over open fire and served them on sticks. It was the original county fair turkey leg.
Ahi Pescado Crudo
The pescado crudo was a refreshing dish with a tuna tartare, and served with pickled kohlrabi (a type of radish/cabbage), sesame and chili dressing, mint, chilies and a gaucamole style puree. I liked the play of acidic and spice on the fish. This was a refreshing dish and I loved the guacamole!
Papas con huevos
The papas con huevos was pretty epic and reminded me of a very fancy version of what I enjoyed in Barcelona. The potatoes are fried up nice and crispy. They are dressed with bacon marmalade and topped with a 144 degree runny egg and strips of delicious jabon.
My advice for this dish is to pop the cherry of that egg and let the viscous yolk flow. Mix it up and enjoy all the ingredients together, if the yolk runs down your face…it aint no thing. The jabon is wicked on it’s own, but be sure to get a little bite with each forkful of potato.
Pueblo Costillas de Cerdo
This Costillas de Cerdo was essentially fancy ribs and green beans. The pork ribs appear to have been flash fried until crispy and tossed in a savory sauce, candied chile and almonds. The dish is topped with grilled green beans. I liked both the flavor and crispy texture of the pork ribs. The meat was juicy and very flavorful. For me, the green beans did not add much beyond adding color to the dish and perhaps a little fiber to my diet.
My Final Thoughts
Are you looking for something really delicious, then you might find pueblo extremely refreshing. The flavors of Spain come alive at Pueblo. I enjoyed the modern cooking techniques contrasted with the old world flavors. Tom’s Foodie Blog highly recommends Pueblo.