Descanso will bring a unique Mexican dining experience to Orange County when it opens its doors on Saturday, November 17th. More than just a modern taqueria, Descanso celebrates authentic Mexican flavors and recipes executed on a traditional plancha and prepared a la minute in front of the guest. Descanso is a full-service restaurant that will bring the guest face to face with the chef as Mexican classics are made to order in a lively setting that brings in the music, smells, energy of a busy Mexican town.
“If you’ve been to any quaint Mexican town, chances are that you’ve come face to face with a street-side Taquero, or Taco Man, grilling meats and vegetables on the plancha and serving the freshest, most flavorful tacos,” said Rob Arellano, Managing Partner & Concept Creator of Descanso. “There is no arguing that this experience is one of the most sought-after when it comes to Mexican cuisine, and that is what Descanso delivers.”
Arellano pulled from his own Mexican heritage to create a never-before-seen restaurant experience rooted in nostalgia and comfort that speaks to how we live and eat today. “Our goal is to bring the flavor and charm of the beloved Mexican taco stand – and even the taco stand itself – into a full-service restaurant setting,” added Arellano. “We are focused on presenting this unique experience while preserving the tradition and authenticity of the dishes and recipes.”
With Chef Sergio Ortega at the helm, Descanso presents Classic Central Mexican street-inspired cuisine, rife with bold flavors and the freshest, seasonal ingredients in dishes that are complex and layered with history and flavor. Born and raised in Morelia, Michoacan, Chef Ortega was drawn to cooking with his grandmother and aunts. He gained a diploma in international cuisine, but it wasn’t until he moved to Southern California a decade ago at the age of 22, that he pursued a culinary degree at the Art Institute in Orange County. During his time in culinary school, he gained experience working at Raya Restaurant in The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and as a Tournant Chef under Chef Helene An at AnQi in Costa Mesa. Over the past 10 years, he has run kitchens in Orange County, Los Angeles, Austin, and even Melbourne.
The menu features artful dishes that successfully marry tradition with modernity. The cuisine is inspired by the Taquerias of Chef Ortega’s childhood. As someone who grew up from humble origins with access to limited ingredients, Chef Ortega is dedicated to cooking with seasonal ingredients, sustainable seafood and humanely raised meats. Salsas are made fresh daily. Meats and vegetables are cooked in front of guests on a traditional plancha. Guests can enjoy tacos, quesadillas, and alambres con queso made with options ranging from contra steak and carnitas, to al pastor and mahi mahi.
The menu is not limited to the plancha – Descanso offers small plates, soups, salads and entrees from the cocina. Small Plates feature light, fresh dishes like Yellowtail Aguachile and a Mexican interpretation of poké featuring local Big Eye Tuna, to richer dishes like Choriqueso and Tamales Dorados. Chef Ortega utilizes his grandmother’s recipes to create fresh soups, including Pazole Verde with roasted Sweet Corn, Wild Mushroom Broth, and Fideo, a traditional Mexican toasted noodle soup.
Guests may opt for Plancha entrees, including Pescado a la Talla with Xoconostle pico and herb salad; Sirloin Steak with braised potato, albañil sauce and toreados; Pechuga Pollo Asada with sautéed mushrooms and fried rice; and Lobster with chile toreado salsa and corn puree.
Descanso features a full-service bar that features Mexican and Spanish wines and craft beers, as well as local SoCal favorites. The bar highlights only quality tequilas and mezcals that help in making up the restaurant’s fresh and unique margaritas and specialty cocktails. Margaritas simultaneously celebrate creativity and simplicity, utilizing only fresh-squeezed lime juice as the house mix. The list features Bad Hombres, a margarita made with Herrardura Reposado Tequila, Pineapple, Serranos, Lime, Salt and Pepper; Hibiscus Smash, with Tito’s Vodka, Hibiscus Syrup, Mint and Lime; and Media Noche, with Cana Brava Rum, Cherry Herring, Blackberry Honey, Lemon and Activated Charcoal.
Descanso is set to open at 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 1555 Adams Avenue in Costa Mesa. The restaurant will then be open for Lunch and Dinner daily, Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, please call (714) 486-3798 or visit descansorestaurant.com.