La Fiesta's Success Is Simple, but Preparation Is No Party

Little more than a year ago, La Fiesta Tacos was just a pipe dream, almost a whim, created by Bill and Vikki Trudeau, who had never before ventured into the all-too-risky food business.

Today, the small restaurant is a bustling enterprise offering a limited but excellent sampling of tasty Mexican entrees and snacks. From bowls of spicy whole pinto beans to marinated pork tacos, the menu was inspired by the Trudeaus' philosophy for financial success.

"Keep it simple," says Bill Trudeau. And indeed the menu, the Mexican-style decor and the advertising are all based on that philosophy.

But the way the food is cooked is anything but simple.

Take the restaurant's specialty: charro beans. The dried pinto beans are hand-checked each morning by Vikki Trudeau and her chef, Javier, to ensure that only the best are used. As the beans are simmering, a blend of spices, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers are added to create a complex, and rather addicting, flavor.

Then there are the tacos al pastor , which are made of fresh-cooked carnitas (spiced pork) marinated in a delicate, flavorful red chili sauce. The meat is wrapped in two soft corn tortillas and topped with pico de gallo salsa and fresh cilantro. All for $1.59.

Also impressive is the manner in which the chicken is prepared for the various dishes. After the meat is parboiled, it is marinated in a slightly spicy sauce then diced and used in an assortment of dishes.

Prices range from $1.29 for a cheese quesadilla to a La Fiesta Special Plate, which includes a mini-chimichanga, a mini-tostada and three mini-taquitos, for $4.50. Also offered on the menu are burritos made with chicken, beef or carnitas, and enchiladas.

A breakfast menu consisting of huevos rancheros, omelets and egg burritos, is offered from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Rice and beans are served.

La Fiesta Tacos, in the Von's Shopping Center at 23976 Aliso Creek Road, Laguna Niguel. Open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (714) 362-1087.

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