Taco Maria is the finest fine-dining Mexican restaurant in Costa Mesa right now. A local boy who eventually became the pastry chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant called Commis in Oakland, chef and owner Carlos Salgado returned to OC a few years ago to sling tacos and burritos out of a lonchera he named after his mom, Maria. But the truck, as great as it was, turned out to be just warm-up to this brick-and-mortar. At his now nationally-acclaimed restaurant, also called Taco Maria, Salgado has traded tacos for the sophisticated Mexican of alta cocina. A meal here will come at a leisurely two-hour pace, each course served with its own set of utensils. With a small crew and working in a kitchen in full view of his customers at the OC Mix, you can see Salgado is where he was always meant to be. He prepares only eight dishes, each of them thoughtful and flawless, served four per person for about $75 a head. The thing to do, of course, is to bring a friend, have them order the other four dishes, and then share each one.
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