The Gossiping Gourmet: Tasty 'American Mexican' at Laguna's Asada

October 05, 2011|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz
  • Hostess Ashley Brown welcomes with a smile at the at the new Asada restaurant in Laguna Beach.
Hostess Ashley Brown welcomes with a smile at the at the… (STEVEN GEORGES,…)

Yet another Mexican restaurant rises in the spot where Javier's and Callejon once stood. Asada has been many months in the making with a renovation that had Lagunans peeking through the plastic with great curiosity.

Finally unveiled, the space is dominated by a prodigious tequila bar where you can munch on snacks or have a full meal while sampling your beverage of choice. The rest of the dining area is cozily divided into four separate spaces, which keeps the noise level fairly tolerable (the bar scene is something quite different).

The food is advertised as "American Mexican." Although we are not sure what the exact definition of that term is, we would call it "Laguna Mexican" because it's a style of Mexican cooking unique to Asada.

The chips are very thin and very good, not the familiar fat triangles. The regular salsa has a nice little bite with plenty of flavor, but if that's too tame for you there is a salsa diablo that will blow your head off, so handle with care. Guacamole is made to order and you may choose ingredients to add such as cilantro, onion and tomato. They also have a diablo guacamole to try (at your own risk).


Their version of spicy chicken tortilla soup was more like a thick bean soup with vegetables, rather than a tomato broth. It had a minuscule amount of chicken and no heat, but it was very tasty even though not what we expected.

Baja crab and shrimp ceviche was also a different take on the classic, which is seafood marinated in lime juice. This was more like a generous shrimp cocktail with tiny shreds of crab. The sauce was a sweetened, smooth tomato salsa with no heat or acidity. The shrimp were nicely cooked, tender and sweet, while big chunks of very good avocado rounded out the dish.

From the "Mexican Especialities" we chose the chicken enchiladas de casa. They also can be ordered with cheese or vegetables, fish, steak, shrimp or crab. These were definitely American Mexican, as the enchilada sauce was extremely mild and lacked complexity or depth. There was just a tiny bit of shredded cheese and a drizzle of sour cream for decoration only.

This entrée comes with black beans and rice. The beans were a bit oversalted.

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