The Gossiping Gourmet: Straight from Momma to your mouth

May 13, 2010|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Chile relleno with taco de papa covered with salsa ranchera, is a savory main dish at Amorelia's Mexican Cafe in Costa Mesa.
Chile relleno with taco de papa covered with salsa ranchera,…

Amorelia is something special. Distinguishing itself from the plethora of Mexican restaurants in Costa Mesa, this new storefront eatery brings fresh new energy to classical Mexican food.

Tucked into the southwest corner of the Kmart mall on Harbor Boulevard, it's an attractive little place with faux stone walls, chunky Mexican wooden furniture, warm lighting and a very pleasant ambience.

This is a family business based on Momma's recipes from Morelia and Michoacan, but the menu is continually evolving. Momma is Gloria Seretti and her son, manager Daniel Paniagua, said, "My mom's kitchen is a lab."

We all benefit from her creativity because you can return again and again to try something new and delicious every time. We tasted as many dishes as we could, and almost all were superior.

We started with a taco duo. The amazing papa taco was the best taco either of us had ever eaten. The fried shell was thin, crisp and absolutely greaseless. The savory mashed potato filling was simple but vibrantly seasoned. The marriage of the two was a match made in heaven. Less exciting but still very tasty was the pollo asado taco, generously stuffed with marinated shredded chicken. The tacos came with a little salad of shredded lettuce, corn and black olives.


The same well-seasoned chicken comes in a large quesadilla, adding lots of flavor to the delicious cheese medley inside. Once again, it may have been the best of its kind.

The chile relleno is filled with queso ranchero, a lighter, less fatty cheese with a somewhat salty taste.

The batter is thin and light, not the thick, greasy blanket that is often wrapped around a chile. It came cloaked in two sauces: Half of the chile had a fresh, chunky, mild tomato and onion sauce and the other a piquant tomatillo sauce with a nice acid bite.

We know that fajitas are meant to be wrapped in a tortilla, but the fajitas de camarones were just too good to eat any way except au natural.

Rather than the usual overcooked meat and vegetables in a greasy cast-iron pan, these large, plump and juicy shrimp were served on a plate with crunchy sweet peppers and onions. All were lightly brushed with oil, delicately seasoned and lightly spicy, making for the freshest tasting version of this dish around.

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