LA Times: Celebrated Taco Maria chef heads to Palm Springs

Desert tacos: Chef Carlos Salgado, whose Costa Mesa restaurant Taco Maria has been among the top five restaurants on Jonathan Gold’s best restaurants list for the last two years, is heading to the desert. Salgado was recently named a culinary partner at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs, and he’ll be responsible for revamping the hotel restaurant and bar. The chef took over for Brooklyn’s Five Leaves, the hotel’s former food and beverage partner. Salgado’s new menus will be available Feb. 1. 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, (760) 325-9900, www.acehotel.com/palmsprings

 

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Bennett: Think you know Mexican food? Think again

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Carlos Salgado doesn’t see borders. Or, rather, 2016 is the year he feels more comfortable crossing them.

It’s something he does both literally and figuratively as one of the main flag-bearers of Alta California cuisine, a creation of Mexican American chefs in Southern California who, in the last few years, have been fusing the skills and techniques honed in California’s fine-dining kitchens with the flavors and pride of their Mexican roots.

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LA Times: Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but I think the coming thing may be nasturtiums, and everything nasturtiums represent. Or wait: It could be vegetarian menus for carnivores. Or activated cashews, or $185 tasting menus that include spot prawns, seaweed and an interesting way to braise carrots.

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Orange Coast: Taco Maria’s Carlos Salgado Returns to His Culinary Roots

Taco Maria's Carlos Salgado a semifinalist of Culinary Excellence!

With its white tile interior, dark wood accents, and chefs wearing selvage denim shirts, Carlos Salgado’s restaurant, Taco Maria, fits right in at Costa Mesa’s OC Mix, a rustic-mod cluster of businesses that is one of the county’s antidotes to ’80s commercial malls. I like to come down here from L.A. and sit at the counter, eat, and watch the cooks work.

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Taco Maria Recommended by Travel Leisure

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Another recognition for our favorite Taco place:

Heirloom-Blue-Corn Tacos: Taco María, Costa Mesa, California

Mall food conjures visions of bad stir-fry and soft pretzels. That is definitely not what Carlos Salgado, who trained at Coi and Commis, is doing at his Chicano restaurant inside Orange County’s shopping mecca, the OC Mix. He sources heirloom blue corn from Mexico, hand-presses tortillas, and stuffs them with everything from stone fruits and pork cheeks to chicken in ancho-almond mole. From $13.

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OC Register: Taco Maria in Best Places to Eat and Drink for Cinco de Mayo!

From left, Mango-Habernero, Prickly Pear Margarita, La Pina, Platinum Mojito and Cha Cha Margarita are some of the fresh California-Latin cocktails served at Cha Cha's Tacos and Tequila, Brea.    //ADDITIONAL INFO: A food review on the new gourmet Mexican restaurant Cha Cha in Brea. tres leche cake, flan with kahlua cream, salmon vera cruz, enchiladas combo trio, chicken flautas, chips and salsa and the mango margarita.   review.1016.cy  CINDY YAMANAKA, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - CQ's

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Let’s be clear: Cinco de Mayo is not a major holiday south of the border.

Years ago, margarita-thirsty Americans took Mexico’s military victory over the French – the Battle of Puebla in 1862 – and turned it into an excuse for celebrating with tequila and tacos in the United States.

The event is now such a cash cow, non-Mexican restaurants want a piece of the action. I’ve seen vegan eateries and gastropubs hawking specials this year.

OC Register: 10 Best OC Restaurants To Celebrate a Significant Life Event

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Taco Maria

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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