Carlos Salgado Costa Mesa, Calif.
There’s a reason why Taco Maria, a snug, tasting-menu focused joint roughly an hour from most places in Los Angeles took the number five spot on Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants list, just out this week—Salgado is just that good. An Orange County native, he first blipped on the radar of SoCal diners after launching a taco truck back in 2011, his (to most eyes) illogical follow-up to decade or more of toiling in various Michelin-starred (Coi, Commis) kitchens up in the Bay Area. The truck begat the sleek little fine-dining spot where you find him today, and while you can still get tacos here, it’s really all about the four-course prix-fixe menu of what Salgado likes to refer to as Chicano Cuisine.
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