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Puesto announces new Irvine location
Taco Hotspot Expands with a Fresh New Look at Irvine’s Park Place
Proud to be a new part of the Orange County community, contemporary Mexican restaurant Puesto opens its second new location in Irvine this summer. Puesto’s signature composed tacos made with crispy melted cheese, housemade blue corn tortillas, and scratch salsas are the product of Executive Chef/Partner Luisteen Gonzalez, alongside Executive Creative Chef Katy Smith. The chefs pull inspiration from the vibrant art, culture, and energy of Chef Luisteen’s native Mexico City and Katy Smith’s broad travels south of the border.
A family-owned concept, Puesto is operated by Tacoteur brothers Eric and Alan Adler in partnership with their cousin Isidoro Lombrozo. About the upcoming opening, Eric says, “We’re so happy to bring Puesto’s flavors and culture to another corner of the community that has been so welcoming to us.”
Imagined by designer Paul Basile, Puesto’s new 5,800 square foot location makes use of bright colors and rich contrasting materials. Warm Douglas fir timber and cool grey stone create a dynamic juxtaposition reflective of Mexico City: a cosmopolitan hub known both for its authentic street food as well as its elevated Mexican cuisine with international influences. Adjoined to the new AC Hotel, guests enter the restaurant from Michelson Drive. Glass walls flip open unifying the dining room and wrap-around patio. The 18-seat bar sits on the would-be division of indoor and out. Inside, towering wooden arches frame ceilings and walls, drawing the eye to contrasting metal beams and vivid tile artwork. Famed local street artist Chor Boogie again adds his eclectic touch with a blast of color. The indoor dining area seats 65, and a semi-private dining space seats 12.
Tacos and more
Puesto’s menu encourages guests to mix and match from an offering of composed tacos such as the Filet Mignon Taco with crispy melted cheese, avocado, and spicy pistachio serrano salsa; Chicken al Pastor Taco with crispy melted cheese, hibiscus & chipotle tinga, avocado, and piña habanero pico; vegetarian options such as the Zucchini & Cactus Taco with crispy melted cheese, zucchini, corn, tomato, cactus, avocado, and cilantro-tomatillo salsa; and sustainable seafood choices like the Tamarindo Shrimp Tacos with crispy tamarindo-chile shrimp nestled in guacamole & cilantro. Other new new seasonal tacos are also planned. All of Puesto’s salsas are made from scratch using local produce. Every tortilla is made in-house using organic, non-GMO, American blue corn masa sourced from local purveyor, Kernel of Truth.
To complement the taco selection, Puesto offers an array of inventive guacamoles and share plates such as Puesto Perfect Guacamole with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Crab Guacamole with lump crab. Other starters include fresh seafood options such as the Striped Bass Tiradito, resting in spicy guava broth and sesame oil, accented with avocado, pickled Manzano chiles, and sea beans. The fresh Coctel Campechana, is a seafood cocktail of market fish, shrimp, octopus, and avocado, finished with Tajin roasted peanuts. A handful of á la carte plates round out the menu, including Pescado Veracruzana. This dish classically prepares pescado del día with simmered tomatoes, Manzanilla olives, capers, roasted garlic, and jalapeños en escabeche. For dessert, Pastry Chef Jessica Scott creates seasonal, modern interpretations of traditional Mexican desserts such as Tres Leches de Café. Her sponge cake is soaked in evaporated, condensed, and whole milks, Cabernet, and coffee. It is topped with mascarpone whipped cream, chocolate shavings, mocha sauce, and fresh strawberry.
Agave-based spirits at the new bar
Puesto’s craft bar program is grounded in a carefully-curated selection of agave spirits. Tequilas, mezcals, sotols, bacanoras, and raicillas are sourced from throughout Mexico. To round out the bar program, Puesto serves 12 local and Mexican microbrews on draft, and six Valle de Guadalupe wines on tap. Specialty cocktails are made with freshly squeezed juices and housemade sodas. Signature cocktails include the Puesto Perfect Margarita with 100% blue agave reposado tequila, lime, and agave nectar. El Mezcalito masterfully mixes Vida Mezcal, guanabana, tamarindo, lime, and charred orange. La Rosita combines housemade strawberry-cilantro infused vodka with lemon and cane sugar. Non-alcoholic options include refreshing aguas frescas made from scratch daily and Frozen Horchata. Puesto’s Frozen Horchata for a Cause initiative donates $1 of each Horchata sale to rotating monthly local charities.
Chef Luisteen brought Chef Katy onboard to complete the Mexico City-Orange County circle. An Irvine native herself, Executive Creative Chef Katy Smith joined the Puesto team in 2016 to oversee menu development. Prior to Puesto, Smith worked with renowned chef Rick Bayless in Chicago. She was the kitchen director of Bayless’s Emmy-nominated PBS series Mexico; One Plate at a Time, as well as culinary director of Bayless’s James Beard Award-winning podcast, The Feed.
Puesto Park Place Irvine is located at 3311 Michelson Drive, Irvine, California. It will be open for lunch and dinner service with hours of operation 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information follow @eatpuesto on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Or, like Puesto on their Facebook page for the new location at facebook.com/puestoparkplace.
Puesto has been named “Best Taqueria” by Ranch & Coast, “Best Tacos” by San Diego Magazine, winner of Best Food at Foodbeast’s Oozefest II, and winner of People’s Choice Award at LA Weekly’s Tacolandia in both 2015 and 2016. Puesto was also included in Orange Coast’s ‘Best Restaurants’ issue in 2017. Current locations include San Diego at The Headquarters, La Jolla, and Irvine’s Los Olivos Marketplace. Fourth and fifth locations in Irvine’s Park Place and Santa Clara are slated to open later in 2017.