Proud to be part of the Orange County community, contemporary Mexican restaurant Puesto just opened its second location in Irvine late December, 2017. 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 acclaimed 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 where 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 the space, towering wooden arches frame ceilings and walls, drawing the eye to contrasting metal beams and vivid tile artwork by famed local street artist Chor Boogie. The indoor dining area seats 65, and a semi-private dining space seats 12.
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 Taco with crispy tamarindo-chile shrimp nestled in guacamole, accented by cilantro. All of Puesto’s salsas are made from scratch using local produce, and every tortilla is made in-house using organic, non-GMO, blue American 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 responsibly-sourced seafood options such as the Striped Bass Tiradito, resting in spicy guava broth & sesame oil, accented with avocado, pickled Manzano chiles & sea beans; and the Coctel Campechana, a seafood cocktail of market fish, shrimp, octopus, and avocado, finished with Tajin roasted peanuts.
A handful of a la carte plates round out the menu, including Pescado Veracruzana, pescado del día classically prepared 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 the Tres Leches de Café, sponge cake soaked in evaporated, condensed, and whole milks, Cabernet, coffee, and topped with mascarpone whipped cream, shaved chocolate, mocha sauce, and fresh strawberry.
Puesto’s craft bar program is grounded in a carefully-curated selection of agave spirits
featuring tequilas, mezcals, sotols, bacanoras, and raicillas sourced from throughout Mexico. To round out the bar program, Puesto serves 12 local and Mexican microbrews on draft, six Valle de Guadalupe wines on tap, and specialty cocktails made with freshly squeezed juices and housemade sodas. Cocktails include the Puesto Perfect Margarita with 100% blue agave reposado tequila, lime & agave nectar, El Mezcalito with Vida Mezcal, guanabana, tamarindo, lime, and charred orange, and La Rosita with housemade strawberry-cilantro infused vodka, lemon, and cane sugar. Non-alcoholic options include refreshing aguas frescas made from scratch daily and Frozen Horchata, of which Puesto donates $1 of each sale to a rotating charity as part of its Frozen Horchata for a Cause program.
Chef Luisteen brought Chef Katy onboard to complete the Mexico City-Orange County circle. An Irvine native herself, 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 as kitchen director for Bayless’s Emmy-nominated PBS series Mexico: One Plate at a Time, as well as the culinary director of Bayless’s James Beard Award-winning podcast, The Feed.
Puesto Park Place is located at 3311 Michelson Drive, Irvine, California. Open for lunch and
dinner service, hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, please visit eatpuesto.com, follow @eatpuesto on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, or like Puesto on Facebook at
ABOUT PUESTO: Born in Mexico City and rooted in Southern California, Puesto provides a
fresh, contemporary, and approachable take on authentic Mexican cuisine. Run by Tacoteurs Eric and Alan Adler in partnership with their cousin Isidoro Lombrozo, Puesto is known for its Mexico City-style tacos made with housemade blue corn tortillas, crispy melted cheese, and scratch salsas courtesy of Executive Chef/Partner Luisteen Gonzalez and Executive Creative Chef Katy Smith. Puesto has been awarded “Best Taqueria” by Ranch & Coast, “Best Tacos” by San Diego Magazine, and winner of People’s Choice Award at LA Weekly’s Tacolandia in both 2015 and 2016. Puesto was also included in Orange Coast Magazine’s ‘Best Restaurants’ issue in 2017. Current locations include San Diego at The Headquarters, La Jolla, and Irvine’s Los Olivos Marketplace, with fourth and fifth locations in Irvine’s Park Place and Santa Clara slated to open later in 2017.
For more information, visit eatpuesto.com.
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UPDATED Jan 2018