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Mi Casa; a Family Favorite

We certainly have more than our share of Mexican restaurants in southern California; they range from corner takeout joints to gourmet fusion tacos to Baja California surfer cuisine to combination plate American-style Mexican food. But one thing is for sure, not many have been around for 40 years, seen three generations of family ownership, and are as beloved by locals as Mi Casa in Costa Mesa. I’m a total fan of any family-owned business that has served folks in their community for decades and adapted to changing tastes while continuing to keep their loyal patrons happy. Mi Casa is all of that: currently owned and operated by Ryan Moore, a third generation family member, who carries on the tradition of good food, good value, and friendly service where locals and visitors can dine with relatives and friends in a casual relaxed setting.

Mi Casa has also responded with seasonal, healthier, lighter menu options and an impressive array of handcrafted cocktails made with top-shelf brands and artisan tequilas ranging in price from $8.50 to $25.00. Yes, for the big spenders there’s the Billionaire Margarita concocted from Gran Patron Platinum Tequila and Grand Marnier! Known for their mega portions and Sonoran style Mexican food, I’m particularly happy with their Fall seasonal menu featuring four new entrees in addition to their other popular menu items.

First off, my dining partner and I wanted to sample a few of the tempting cocktails – she had been battling L.A. traffic for two hours and definitely needed a refreshment to calm her nerves and I need no excuse :) After much contemplation (there are three pages of drinks including margaritas, specialty cocktails, martinis, shots and after dinner drinks) we decided  to spice up the evening with a Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita. Why not, it was Friday Happy Hour and I was celebrating leaving the next day for a three week trip that included Paris!

1921 Blanco Tequila, muddled cucumber and jalapeno, organic agave nectar and lime juice

If you like it HOT and STRONG, then this one’s for you.

Or you might want to try the Habanero-infused El Jimador tequila, Cointreau, sweet & sour and lime juice – I wasn’t that brave :)

The restaurant decor is an eclectic mix of retro memorabilia celebrating Mi Casa’s heritage, south of the border kitschy art, and western steakhouse with leather booths, dim lighting and tabletops imprinted with cattle brands. Pitchers of chilled water are at each table and guests promptly receive a basket of chips and the house salsa to munch on while perusing the menu.

It’s been a while since I popped into Mi Casa for lunch (shredded beef tacos!) and at least a year since I’ve joined the crowd at their popular $3 Happy Hour; on this night I was there specifically to try their new Fall Menu. Although I enjoy the haute cuisine du jour and picture all manner of mouthwatering dishes in my restaurant write-ups here, my emphasis is on healthy dining options and I was pleased to see the Grilled Mahi Mahi Tacos and Shrimp Enchiladas on the menu along with their Chile Relleno Puebla and Chicken Tamale.

 Two grilled Mahi-Mahi tacos with creamy avocado sauce, pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, and queso fresco; served with rice and salad. ($11.95)

Fish tacos were a given and the other entree we selected was the Chile Relleno Puebla – other than the ubiquitous taco, Chile Rellenos are my favorite and, way back when, I was told that you can judge a Mexican restaurant by their chile relleno, so I always order it. The mahi-mahi was well prepared, i.e. not over-cooked, with just the perfect amount of acid from the pico de gallo, salty queso fresco, and crunchy cabbage. We were both pleased to see that the Chile Relleno wasn’t smothered with a heavy batter as many are, but lightly coated with egg and, of the two sauces which we requested on the side, preferred the ranchero sauce with the ample serving of rice and beans.

Fresh pasilla chile stuffed with queso fresco and covered in your choice of ranchero sauce or salsa verde; served with rice and beans. ($8.95)

By this time, we had asked for a sample of each of their salsas and, with a bottomless basket of chips, we were compelled to try another cocktail while we waited for our entrees – just one more…

The Mangorita was calling our name and the Grapefruit Margarita with St. Germain Elderflower sounded intriguing. Both were super delicious and more suited to our taste than the spicy first round; the Mangorita was almost creamy with the consistency of a smoothie which made it dangerously easy to drink and the Grapefruit Margarita had a perfectly balanced, refreshing sweet/tart taste that I love – my rapture for St. Germain Elderflower rages on.

Mangorita – Herradura Silver Tequila blended with mango, organic agave, Triple Sec and lime juice.

Corralejo Blanco Tequila, St. Germain, grapefruit juice, sweet & sour and lime juice.

Dessert selections include flan, arroz con leche, key lime ice cream pie, and a caramel churro sundae. Neither of us have much of a sweet tooth, so in lieu of dessert, we couldn’t resist the highly recommended X-O to end the evening. A lovely concoction indeed!

Patron X-O, Tres Leches, and Frangelico topped with cinnamon, Oh yeah!

We had arrived early (natural light = better photos) and by the time we left the restaurant was buzzing with activity, every table was occupied, and the entry filled with couples and families waiting. That’s why Mi Casa’s been around for 40 years!

Mi Casa

296 E. 17th Street

Costa Mesa, CA 92627

(949) 645-7626

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11 Responses to “Mi Casa; a Family Favorite”

  1. Barbara | Creative Culinary
    November 4 at 8:33 am #

    You say a lot of cocktails and you must know I would race over here. Never know, I might have to recreate one for Happy Hour Friday. Cheers!

  2. Jamie
    November 5 at 1:32 am #

    Delicious! It is rare (from where I come from) to find Mexican food that looks light and fresh – and delicious – but this does! I’ll leave the drinks to you and Barb and take those Mahi-Mahi tacos! Wow!

  3. foodwanderings
    November 5 at 8:45 am #

    Priscilla, it is so nice to have a Mexican go to restaurant nearby. It is one of my favorite cuisines since I came over here over 20 years now and yeah the maragaritas. Margaritas are probably by far my favorite cocktail, surprisingly enough I can tell the difference between good tequila to the not so…:)

  4. Angie's Recipes
    November 5 at 10:37 pm #

    Love Mexican food. That tequila based cocktail sounds perfect for me.

  5. Megan
    November 6 at 3:05 pm #

    So hungry now… I love the mangorita idea. Even though the weather is getting cooler this sounds like a great way to end the day.

  6. Nami | Just One Cookbook
    November 7 at 10:37 pm #

    Your photos are making me REALLY hungry. I was telling my husband I needed snack, and now I feel like I really need to eat something close to Mexican food….at 10:30pm, not good. It’s so nice to have a good restaurant near your home that you can trust and always count on.

  7. Delicious dishes, refreshing cocktails and great company – sounds like a wonderful day!

  8. Magic of Spice
    November 9 at 2:41 pm #

    They have a great menu and their cocktails are worthy of a trip in itself…now I need Mexican food!

  9. Maris (In Good Taste)
    November 9 at 5:58 pm #

    All of this looks amazing but a cucumber margarita and those mahi mahi tacos sound SO refreshing!

  10. Julia
    November 16 at 12:16 pm #

    I love Mi Casa. Funny, it’s the restaurant my parents had their first date at (over 35 years ago), and they dined and ditched. We’re classy like that. Hmmm…I may have to just head on over tonight, those tacos look AMAZING!

  11. Baker Street
    March 14 at 10:59 pm #

    Good food, great cocktails and company!! Sounds like you had a great time P! :)

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