Category Archives: Eating Out

Pig Says…

…frohes neues Jahr!

assbinder delight [teil eins]

few things in this world are better than a downtown dog, wrapped naughtily in bacon, fried on a happenstance griddle, covered in grilled onions…onions that have in turn been frying in the pork fat released from the swine that lovingly cradles a defiantly skanky oscar meyer wiener. turns out i like to eat cheeks, beaks, and assholes more than the next guy.

few things are better than that except for maybe those lovely little puppies served out of similar carts in las plazas de ocotlan. i remember my fat little 11 year-old self greedily scarfing down one or two or three. they were laced with something between a mayo and a crema and came in a steamy bun. surrounded by the sounds of spanish, dazzled by the liveliness of a townsquare, and hungry because i was always hungry, i would look forward to those weekend trips into ocotlan and those hotdogs…my grandmother was always too nice to deny me as many as i wanted, besides, i was a growing boy.

perhaps only other sensuous pleasures––drinking beer, making love, smoking hand roll cigs, smelling the moistened earth of a rural mexican village just after a summer rainstorm––can compare to the experience that a good assbinder affords.

naturally, oscar meyer is shit and should only be consumed when extremely intoxicated or at a baseball game. since i am not white the latter does not apply to me, and since i live in sTa and have easy access to a milieu of tortilla-wrapped delicacies nor does the former.

but my experiences abroad, and specifically with the german-version assbinders, have learned this beaner another, distinct species of assbinder––a species that has been developed over centuries. it’s no wonder my adult palate was re-introduced to all the goodness that can be an assbinder while in germany what with their weißwurst und bratwurst und polischer kielbasa und currywurst und, und, und.

seeing the currywurst man as i exited berlin’s s-bahn at the mitte stop was as unbelievable as watching a woman pump out a lump of wriggling flesh the size of a watermelon. similarly unbelievable not because the currywurst man excreted assbinder from some bodily orifice, but because it was, quite frankly, a remarkable sight: the currywurst man had a flaming-hot griddle strapped to his chest upon which he rotated sizzling assbinders, while he loaded them up with curry-ketchup, conversed with patrons, received money and gave change, and (all the while) managed to not topple over.

the thing to do in germany is drink beer and eat assbinder.

well, it’s not really, but it is a great place to start.

* * *

i sat there listening to professor terror. it was a tuesday night. we were covering barthes’ camera lucida, or kant’s sublime or some such. it was around week ten and by this time i had not so coincidentally befriended the sharpest, most well-read chick in class (who was also, therefore, the hottest). we snickered about the something just as our break approached, and she leaned in real close to tell me about some place she had been to the night before.

“i think it’s called the sausage kitchen,” she said, “but not sausage kitchen in english, sausage kitchen in german.” “like wurstküche,” i say, leaning in a little closer while staring at the piercing just above her lip. “yeah, i don’t know, is that how you say sausage kitchen in german?” “yeah,” i say.
wurst küchei sit back and listen to her account of this new place in little tokyo. i listen to her say something about a tiny entry space, a long hallway, and the diverse, cool crowd. i interrupt and ask about the assbinder.

what she describes tells me only one thing: i must go to this assbinder kitchen, this wurstküche… .

best white man’s breakfast burrito around

Lucca 2
Cafe Lucca in Orange is a nice 19 minute bike ride from my shithole of an apartment in the heart of sanTana. When I have time or when I really need a good Americano I go there instead of going to the AV‘s Gypsy Den.

The Gypsy Den wins out for convenience sake. I live three blocks and one alley away from the GD, so when I need to just get down to business and get some work done I hop on The Beast, cycle the two minutes to the GD, and, just as quickly, am served my coffee by Sandrine, Christine, or that one chick that lives in the LB.

And frankly, the GD is home: I first ventured into sanTana during my first year at UCI because of the GD’s open-mic night. That night I met Jack and a handful of other people (some still around)–including that one guy that seems to identify galling behavior with free speech. (Naturally, he does have the right to sound like a jackass.) That night my wife-from-another-life and I hung out in sTa until the sun came up. A couple years later I found myself drinking a brown-bagged flasche o’ something hard on one of those promenade benches until the wee hours of the morn with the ever salacious and usually notorious LGFats–a dude (not “the dude,” but a dude) that would eventually become one of my core partners in crime. (This was all years ago when I was a snot-faced wreck who couldn’t tell his arsch from a hole in the ground.)

Memories aside, this is where the competition stops. In terms of service, Lucca wins out: all servers here are extremely competent, whereas (in my experience) only half of the GD servers are competent… “no one home” comes to mind when I think of the other half at the GD.

Espresso: I can’t get a good shot or Americano at the GD even if I pulled it myself. I think that this is due to their machine, they must not service it consistently enough because their espresso never has creme. Lucca offers up nothing but smooth tasting, awesomely pulled shots–complete with the requisite creme.

But digression gets the best of me, back to the best white man’s burrito around.

Listed on their breakfast menu not as a burrito but as a scramble, the Garden Scramble boasts this description: 3 farm fresh eggs, tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, spinach, jack and cheddar cheese, atop country potatoes. (Served with 7 grain toast.) $8

I ask for the Garden Scramble, made with only two eggs, and in burrito form. What results is a veg-head’s wet dream. It’s served with their house-made salsa that varies slightly according to which brown dude is manning the grill that morning. When it’s the guy with the bomb-ass, elvis-esque hair, the red salsa rocks a consistency similar to that of chimichurri. I like to mix this with the Cholula (bottles at every table) and spoon it onto each burrito bite along with sour cream (served alongside as well).
Lucca 1
This definitely isn’t your taco-truck burrito (claims regarding “authenticity” may now ensue), but for whitelandia Orange, this is the best white man’s breakfast burrito around.

Oh and GD’s beer and wine selection trembles in comparison to Lucca’s.

Cafe Lucca
106 North Glassell Street
Orange, CA
714-289-1255
*Breakfast served until 11am, lunch until 5pm, dinner thereafter.

The Master of Mousse…

First date, blind date, lunch date, any date for that matter Anepalco’s Café is phucking spot on for those seeking good, inventive, and humbly-proud food.

It was several months ago when the nefariously salacious LGFats and I finally went into Anepalco’s Café on Main Street at Stewart.

It was probably a Saturday and LGFats and I were probably on our way to Hollingshead.  Such is the memory of a white-trash-high-priest-alkie: I’ll be the first to chirp up that Hollingshead calls last call when they call, that last call is usually around 7pm, and that they’re not open on Saturday or Sunday.

So when we rolled upon our shuttered watering hole I was at a loss and desultorily stared at their hours of op sign, wondering what to do next.  We may have decided to head back down South Main way, pick up a bottle of corner shop piss, and settle in for another evening of sordid but low-key debauchery at the five-oh-no-two, but (and here is another attempt for this white-trash-high-priest to recall something) memory and fate whisper otherwise.  We made it as far as Stewart and Main when I raised my finger and pointed diagonally across the street.  “Best coffee in town my ass.  Let’s try the place.”

Anepalco's Cafe

I had ridden past it several times before always sneering at the “Best Coffee in Town” claim plastered on their window.  I loathe such claims.

An overly smiley curly haired dude greets me.  I look at the hand-written menu and tell him we want to sit outside.  I don’t tell him that I can’t stand fluorescent lights (by which this fine little Café is, unfortunately, lit).  He says he’ll bring over some menus.

Anepalco Menu
Then I find out from the server that the owner and chef are the same person and that he makes everything himself and with great care—music to my salty-whore ears.  I say, “In that case, I’ll have whatever he recommends.”

I now can’t remember what that was exactly.  It might have been the enchiladas or one of the sandwiches.  I’ve been back many times since that first experience, I’ve tried different dishes (slowly working my way through the menu), and have not been disappointed…well ok, maybe only once.

Despite my own one disappointing experience, I am convinced that Anepalco’s Café is one of Main Street’s best establishments.

Up front I’ll put my cards right on the table:
1)    I tend to really dig owner-ops; nothing better than seeing the visionary scurry to and fro to keep the dream alive (as is the case at Anepalco’s Café, Lucca, or Lola Gaspar, for example)
2)    Having the chef and owner be one in the same, and having that owner-chef come out and talk to me every time I hit up said establishment really (really) gets my juices flowin’
3)    When the owner-chef explains in varying degree of detail what went into making the plate of madness I have before me I am, by this point, a hands down devotee
4)    And: When the owner-chef of said establishment says something like, “Yes, some have called the style of food we serve here Mexican…but it’s not Mexican, it is global.  I’ve worked in different kitchens and my menu reflects those influences,” I’m tickled absolutely pink.
My full deck: Danny, the chef and owner of Anepalco’s Café, is doing something really quite unique on Main Street and he doesn’t charge you all of your blow money to be a part of it.

Take for example the Enchiladas: A great representation of a classic dish with some inventive twists.  They come chicken and pork in a non-traditional “red sauce.”  The red sauce is actually a sun-dried tomato puree meant to accent the bed of flavors that lay atop it, not drown the rolled tortillas in some skanky and bland sauce that is “red.” The cotija cheese, pico de gallo, cabbage, sour cream, and avocado mousse are all piled high on the enchiladas in a marriage of supporting flavors and textures.  I cannot order this plate without not finishing it (even when my hunger has long been satisfied).

Consider any number of the sandwiches:
Colorado Chicken Sandwich that is a splendid and flavorful presentation of chicken breast, Danny’s red sauce, and chipotle aioli.  Yeah.
The Anepalco complete with slow-cooked pork, achiote, and cabbage relish.
The Tuna Sandwich made with handmade mayo, grapes, lime zest, and red onions all on hearty sourdough.  I’m really into Tuna.  ☺  Danny’s Tuna Sandwich is quite good.
The Cuban Sandwich is decadently, deliciously, and undoubtedly awesome: chicken, slow-cooked pork, ham, mozza cheese, cabbage, and chipotle aioli all on a ciabatta.  W.T.F.  For eight phreakin’ bucks this sandwich by others cannot be beat.  Punkt.

Or, the salads: Very soon I’ll try the Anepalco’s Spring Salad but I just had the “Main Street” Salad yesterday.  It is a mountain of spinach tossed in date dressing, sprinkled with dry-roasted peanuts, some cheese, and finely julienned apples.  (Go vegan and order it without the cheese.) The date dressing is an example of Danny’s creative hand.  After a three-hour process dates and balsamic vinegar are reduced down to a concentrated thick base; he then adds some evoo (and etc) and commences to puree.

Danny will happily admit that he has a problem: He loves to puree.

His red sauce, avocado mousse, date dressing, handmade mayo, pesto and chipotle aiolis, and his fantastic soups are all evidence of this deep-seated problem.  And I?  I am the drooling victim of this man’s delinquent behavior.  Even his pico de gallo is evidence of his puree fetish.  While the pico de gallo is not pureed it is some of the finest chopped de gallo I’ve ever put in my mug: the fineness of the chopping marries the flavors one to the other resulting in a beautifully blended cohesive palette experience reminiscent of coked-out hooker gnomes in a mossy forest.  (That’s a good thing.)  Danny points this out to me—not the gnome part, but the intentional fineness of chopping.

I’ve not tried Danny’s breakfasts, but after telling Memphis’ own Julio about Danny and Anepalco, Julio headed on over one morning and had the Chilaquiles then reported back: excellent.

And the coffee:  they serve up a pretty decent cup.  Just as quickly as it seems to have been written, yesterday I was able to blow through 20 or so pages of Butler’s GT because of it (the coffee).

Anepalco Coffee

At Anepalco’s Café I can hardly go wrong.  And the one time I was disappointed with a sandwich, it’s only because I’m an ass who was expecting the full-on heart-stoppingness of a Croque Monsieur, and got instead a subdued version of this Parisian decadent delight.

Place your trust in the Master of Mousse Danny over at Anepalco’s Café.  Then, if it’s not the weekend, head over to Hollingshead for some good beer.  Then, if you haven’t drunk yourself into too much of a stupor and if you’re anything like me, score some blow and gnomes with the money left over.

Danny from Anepalco

Anepalco’s Cafe, 415 South Main Street, Orange, CA. (714) 771-2333.  CC accepted.  No alcohol served.  Breakfast served all day.  Meet the man who makes your food, ask to thank Danny for whatever wonders you put in your mouth.  Oh yeah, and don’t subject yourself to those fluorescent lights either, sit outside.

god, detox, and cupcakes; why nothing says “princess” like vanilla and whimsy

The Ever-Salacious LGFats and I troll about Orange’s traffic circle.  He’s looking to show me some of his antiquing finds that he won’t buy, and I’m looking to not waste an entire day after having missed the train to LA.  And it’s the day before my detoxification process begins.  I can already feel the pangs of despair brought on by withdrawal.  We walk along Glassel.  “What do you think about old theaters being used as churches?  What do you think that says about religion?” he asks.  “Religion is entertainment,” I say as I think about West Coast on Main and Son Light here on Glassel.  “Religion seems to be supplanting entertainment venues,” he says, “is that because we’ve taken entertainment into the home?”

In my days of old I could fast up to three weeks, only subsisting on prayer and water.  I had all the fire and zealousness that is to be expected of a born-again looking to be a pastor someday.  Today, I think that entertainment and religion are identical.  And I feel the effects of cold turkey before I even quit living.  But before I turn myself over to the detox gods for my one hundred and sixty-eight hour penance, I find myself across the street from the Son Light where the Perfect Circle Cupcakery is just opening up for the day.

Store Shot

Facing the Street

The decor is a homage to Breakfast at Tiff’s, and Paris.  Eggshell blue dominates the color scheme while black and white add a classic touch.  And wrought iron throughout the shop provides a certain feel of nobility.  I appreciate their attention to detail, but ultimately the place is just overdone.  They could have done without the piping on the sofa seating; the tassle-balls remind me of whoredom; the diamond-hung canvas on the wall, a big no-no.  But the place has whimsy and they seem to be marketing themselves to orange county chicks that idolize all that chickdom has to offer.  So let it be.  Let them have their gender-reinforcing marketing, and somewhat overdone store. …I’m here for cupcakes.

Cupcakes for the day are: Snickerdoodle, The Princess (Vanilla), The Queen (Red Velvet), Old Town Orange, Sweet Joe, Vanilla Peppermint, and Coconut Bliss.

Cupcakes on Display ...

Three's a CharnI order The Princess, The Queen, and Coconut Bliss.  A threesome to be reckoned with.

bite-into-vanilla“The Princess (Vanilla)”

Crumb:  The flavor is straight up white cake; nothing complex, nothing special, just white cake.  The crumb is stable, loose and slightly moist.

Frosting:  The vanilla-ness of The Princess comes from the frosting.  It has a heavy vanilla flavor, it has a graininess to it, and it’s just too sweet for my palate.  I find that it is easy to mask deficiencies in sweet products by just amping up that sweetness factor.  But that’s not necessarily what’s going on with The Princess.  It’s edible, even enjoyable, but it’s not poetry; vanilla and sugar compete for attention, eventually sugar wins out.

Overall:  Instead of complementing each other, the frosting just overpowers any flavor in the crumb.  While I find the frosting just too sweet, I do enjoy the combination of the crumb and frosting.  I’m not sure what’s going on with the graininess in the frosting though; in the end it just masturbates the sensation of sweetness.  The Perfect Cricle has a pretty solid representation of a crumb though.  If I order this again, I’ll scrape off at least half of the frosting.  I have no doubt, however, that princesses (ages 5 and up) might enjoy these sweet little cupcakes while on their way to complete genderdom.  Viva l’anti-feminismus!

Coconut“Coconut Bliss”

Crumb: This is the same crumb as The Princess.  It’s loose, stable, slightly moist, and I might even call it delicate.  Flavorwise, it’s just  straight up white cake.

Frosting: Just like the previous cupcake, Coconut Bliss gets it coconut-ness from the frosting.  Topped with coconut shavings, the frosting is coconut flavored and slightly grainy, and is still a little too sweet for my palate.

Overall:  The coconut shavings add to the texture complexity.  The frosting does not totally over-power the crumb like in The Princess.  Rather, the crumb and frosting work in tandem: the coconut frosting sings (instead of screams), the crumb in the background harmonizes, and the shavings add a little something extra.  While this is not my flavor of choice, I think those who delight in coco-sweets might enjoy these.

Red Velvet in Focus“The Queen (Red Velvet),” the li’l dude on the left

Crumb: The crumb here is moist, tighter than the other two, and spongey.  It is stable and delicate.  The color of the crumb is deep-red hued brown, and very aesthetically pleasing.  The flavor is complex and phucking awesome: chocolate slowly ascends to the surface of the palate.

Frosting: The frosting is anchored in creamed cheese land. ( A land whose border-fence I’ll hop just to get in to, anytime.)  It’s sweetness level teases the palate into taking another bite, and another.  Like the other cupcakes, this one is hand-frosted, but this one wasn’t frosted while someone was chanting, “more is better.”  The layer is thinner than the others’, delicate, and very good.

Overall: This cupcake is poetry–a ballad if you will.  At first only the frosting comes through, a mellow creamed cheese sweet sensation enrobing your mouth with decadence.  Then, as the creamed cheese frosting fades, the chocolate in the crumb rises to the surface, complementing the fleeting flavor of sweet creamed cheese.  The cupcake fills your mouth with complexity and spongeyness, resulting in an experience that compares with having a fine IPA or wine.  This is a very good cupcake.  Three eaten is more of a charm
After sitting and talking cupcake over coffee with the Ever-Salacious LGFats, I decide to go in for one more.  I must try their interpretation of what Old Town is all about … .

bite-into-orange“Old Town Orange”

Crumb: White cake makes an appearance again.  But this crumb, for some unknown reason (perhaps the sugar is getting to me already), seems a little tighter than it did in the Vanilla and Coconut.  Nonetheless, it’s moist, spongey, and delicate.

Frosting:  This frosting is bold; sweetness comes through somewhere towards the end of a bite, while it proclaims vanilla and orange the whole way through.  It’s topped with a candy that should a piece of candied orange, but is not.  It’s merely a piece of sugar (that is supposed to look like an orange slice) from some bucket of candy; there’s nothing artisanal about it, and the cupcake is only cheapened with this little orange bugger sitting atop it.

Overall:  Where the Red Velvet was a ballad, the Old Town Orange is a pop song that sings, “Vanilla Orange Creamsicle.”  This delicious cupcake takes me back to my childhood: the icecream truck slowly rumbling down the far end of Fernglen Avenue, my spidey senses picking up on it, me acrobatically jumping over furniture and bolting towards the door, while nimbly swiping a dollar from mom’s purse.  “Be right back,” I call out.  I’m out the door, over the frontyard fence, and running down Fernglen to meet god, the icecream man.  Twenty years later I’m sitting in an over-done cupcakerie, and Old Town Orange brings back these memories in a whirl.  Yum.  The Perfect Circle Cupcakery has done a marvelous job with this cupcake.

I leave the store caffeinated and already crashing from sugar.  Tomorrow detox begins.

The Perfect Circle Cupcakery, 165 North Glassel, Orange, CA, 714-997-CAKE; no regular hours until they have their grand opening; grand opening is on Feb 1st.  Cupcakes are $3 a pop.

grand and nowhere

A platinum blond bounces from her car to a shifty beauty salon. She wears skinny jeans, black cowboy boots, a gray t-shirt, and a mien that says, “Now if only there was a decent stylist closer to my loft.” For sure.  I turn my attention back to my plate: Mole.

*

It’s some time in the middle of December.  The Lurid LGFats drags Fill and I towards some part of sanTana that should have been targeted by god’s Renaissance Plan.  This is the part of town where you can get your speedball and your paleta de coco from the same discreet guy standing at an exit intersection.  “Paletas, paletas,” he sometimes calls out to no one in particular.

This is the intersection of Grand and the five (as noted by commenter).  This is where ridiculous Orange County drivers become even more ridiculous; where they get so excited at the idea of driving freeway speeds that they lose cool and piss themselves.

This is the intersection of “Oh lord in heaven get me outta this ghetto before a Mexicaan shots me!” and “Phuck, traffic.”

Yesterday this place was a De-eFe joint called, “Tacos Nitze.” Today it’s a Jaliscan joint called, “Tacos y Mariscos Jalisco.”

The Lurid LGFats has a affinity for hand-made things.  Old-world buildings.  Leather man-bags.  Tortillas.  In fact that’s what drew him here.  While picking up his speedball and paleta a few weeks earlier he noticed a hot pink-colored sign across the street: Tortillas Hechas a Mano.

Menu

When we enter we are greeted by Juan, “For here or to go?” he asks. “For here,” I say. We have a seat near the window.  The decor is humble if not plain.  The television is an annoying sorority sister in the corner of the room: colorful, seeking attention, but somehow fuzzy and self-deceptively empty.  Juan brings over warm tortilla chips, their spicy house salsa, and some menus.

Juan

Free Chips (because restaurants that charge you for them should be banished for all eternity.  Hah.)

The Lurid LGFats knows what he wants: “Yo gustaria la especial de la casa. No mariscos.”  He’s been workin’ on that first sentence for some time now.  He can also say, “Mi espanol es muy bien,” “Buenos dias muchos,” “Sabado, Sabado, Sabado,” and “Dos, veintidos, veintidos, veintidos.”  Despite LGFats’ intermediary linguistic skills, Juan gets him.  LGFats wants the house specials recommended to him, anything but seafood.  Juan immediately recommends the Chile Verde.

I, on the other hand, scrutinize the menu.  “It’s too exhaustive,” I think, “a sign of over-reaching.” I ask what kind of Mole they have.  I narrow my eyes at Juan.  I think back to my mother’s Mole, a true representation of a Jaliscan Mole  (never mind that the trollop hails from Nica).  That’s not what they serve here.  In fact, rare is the restaurant that serves Jaliscan Mole.  Perhaps it’s too time-consuming to be profitable.  Perhaps it bows to the ubiquity of the other Moles.  Even this Jaliscan restaurant is serving a Mole that is between a Michoacanen and a Poblanen.  I ask for a taste.  He brings out a hearty sample of it with chips.  It ain’t a Jalisco Mole, but it’s damn fine; “Mole por favor.”  We’ve ordered and now it’s Fill’s turn.  He stares at the menu not for decisionary purposes, but for the drama.  “…I’ll just have the tacos,” he says.  Oh Fill.

Chile Verde

The pork in the chile verde was seared before being stewed with the chile.  The searing gives it a delicate crust that pork-trollers delight in, and the meat beyond it is supple with a good chewiness.  The size of the chunks of meat are just right for digging into with a piece of tortilla.  In terms of the chile, naturally tomatillos come through, but so does a dash of lime.  The chile and pork are an excellent pairing, that’s what makes this dish a classic.  And here at Tacos y Mariscos Jalisco it’s pretty tasty.  The rice is rather bland but, according to LGFats, is great when mixed with the chile.

Mole

Mole–have some won't you?

The Mole is subtly complex with spices rising and fading to and from the surface of my palate.  It’s definitely a chocolate Mole.  The chicken is super tender.  I dig into it with a tortilla.  The beans I’ve had better elsewhere.  (Like La Sirena on Main where the beans are delish but the day-after consequences are (ahem) grave.)

Taco Plate

Jealous of Fill’s taco plate I order one Asada Taco for myself.  The taco is pretty sizable, the meat is tender, the garnishes are loaded on, the tortilla is supple, and the smell of the combination is wonderful.

Hand Made Fresh Tortillas

The tortilas.  Where is my abuela?  Has she been resurrected?  Am I in some teasingly disgusting  Paz novel?  Are these tortillas leaves of magical surrealism? Or have I merely taken too many chicano studies courses?

These handmade tortillas are a refreshing representation of the tortilla.  They take me back to madrugadas where I wake to the sound of hands clapping and the smell of wood burning.

I wake up and, with sleep still in my eyes, I get dressed.  I step around low beds and sleeping bodies and come out into the kitchen lit only by the morning dim light.  I smell sweet cinnamon and roasted coffee beans.  Coffee percolates on the stove.  My father and grandfather are already outside readying the horses.  The semi-open air kitchen (filled merely with tables and chairs, a stove, and a cupboard) leads to the outdoor hearth area.  Sheltering this area is only corrugated iron.  In the far corner on the left side is my abuela.  She sits next to the hearth.  Covering the hearth is a large cast iron griddle.  Surrounding her is a smooth concrete counter.  Full of maza, her red plastic bucket stands erect at her feet.  The air beyond this area is cold, but here, in the hearth area, the air is warm. I step into the warmth.  My abuela looks up and smiles, I walk over to her, she hands me a couple of ancient mesh bags and wishes me a good day, “Que tengas un buen dia mijo.”  I walk outside.  The men are silent.  We head towards el serro.

Experiences like this form my appreciation for “tortillas hechas a mano.”  My culinary experiences exist not in a vacuum.  They exist within a context.  Is music or television playing in the background? Is it too loud, too distracting?  Can I pair this food with alcohol or not?  Is there table service, is the service format self-order and wait with a number, or is it self-serve?  What’s the location of the establishment?  Is it in a historic building?  In the middle of nowheresville off the 22?  Is it next to a dirt lot?  Where does the food come from and what goes into preparing it?  Is the time taken to make tortillas, for example, by hand?  Tacos y Mariscos Jalisco may be a chink-in-the-dyke, but making the effort to form maza into tortillas scores them points in my book … the sorority sister in the corner I could do without though.

We end our meal with coffee.  It’s weak and disgusting but we weren’t expecting anything less … or more.

What, they charge for coffee here?   Don't they know this is sanTana?  No really, I'll stop now.

Tacos y Mariscos Jalisco, 1320 North Grand Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92701, 714-835-7698.  No alcohol, free parking; price range 2-10 bucks.

new year’s eve in sanTana

The blackcat emerges. Sirk’s “Written on the Wind” illuminates the Albertsons television. It’s days before New Year’s Eve. Fill comes into town looking for some answer that he won’t get until he “tries.”

Life: that unanswerable question that one can’t answer until one does; until one acts.

It’s new year’s eve baby. I won’t promise shit. I won’t promise running the Maple Bike Trail. I won’t promise health, happiness, more love. I’ll maintain my humanness. I’ll continue beginning to listen to Francis Lai. Continue to learn and teach some foreign language– “german.”  I’ll continue … living.

And my New Year’s Eve will probably run the same course as any other occasion worthy of my drunkenness: Dia de los Muertos 2007; end of quarter 2008; 2nd tuesday september oh-nine––it doesn’t take much for me to convince myself that i absolutely need to get drunk. Such is life of a “doing-what-he-wants-twenty-something-year-old.”

I’ll get meself hammered; I’ll barf somewhere off Broadway; I’ll get kicked out of various establishments; I’ll call all five people in my “Contacts List” to tell them how much “I love them,” how much “I hate them,” and how “totally phucked up I am right now man.”

I’ll wake up the next morning naked in some gutter somewhere not really wondering how I ended up there, but moreso wondering what I had sex with and whether or not it was an animal.  I’ll hope that someone, somewhere, with a little more wits and dignity than me ended up with my wallet, because g-d knows it’s not in my back pocket.

But how I’ll get to such a state and who will serve me alcohol along the way is yet to be decided.

The Crosby: Closed New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Apparently, all the cool kids shall find themselves in LA that night, so no need for The Sea to be open.

Memphis at the Santora: Open New Year’s Eve from whenever to 2am.  They’ll have “the countdown,” champagne, poppers, music, and other toys for grown-ups. Should be good times with their DJ of choice and Dave milling about. Word.  Closed New Year’s Day.

Rancho de Mendoza: Happenin’ DJ, mad drink, and dance galore. Come here if you don’t consider yourself “uncultured swine.”  New Year’s Day, open(?).

Lola Gaspar: Nothing “special” going on in the way of super wacky gimmicks, “just friends, and family,” and any one that stops by. Open until 2am.   Closed New Year’s Day.

Gypsy Den: Open New Year’s Eve from 7:30am – 5pm.  Closed New Year’s Day.

The Inn Step: It’s regular revelry for this owner-operated joint.  (Their “special night” was on the 24th wherein they had a “sena,” prepared by a bartender and brought in for the patrons.) By the by, The Inn Step isn’t that scary. Whiteman welcomed. Hah. … oh but no really.

Bistro 400: The prefixed menu will run you about 65 bucks. A DJ, a trio, and some kind of Rebecca Hyrkas will be on stage that night. I hear they have a good time at the 400: *good* champagne flows, kisses are exchanged, and people eat well.  Speedballs excluded, what more could the fan-tab crowd ask for?

500 Club: Slightly more scary, and definitely more skanky than the Inn Step, (though it ain’t what it used to be) the 500  will be open New Year’s Eve – complete with DJ and whores galore, but minus the stabbings from the days of olde.  Open New Year’s Day from 6pm.

Proof Bar: Things and such and much carousing. (But not opened for comment when I passed by today at 7pm.)

One thing is certain, we uncultured swine here at ZauberHour will not be driving anywhere. Punkt.  If at evening’s end you’re wasted and your choices of ‘what to do next’ exist only in the form of two possibilities: a) driving back home or b) dipping your head into some stranger’s toilet, then let me know and you can crash in my toilet.  Now kiddies, no dying due to possibility (a).