Tacos and bratwurst mingle at ‘GerMexican’ Taco Brat in Costa Mesa
Jasmine Dionisio, left, and Sharise Reid enjoy tasting several dishes at Taco Brat in Costa Mesa on Thursday, June 15, 2017.(Drew A. Kelley )
GerMexican Nachos featuring kartoffelpuffer, sausage bites, charro beans, Modelo queso, bacon, esquites, guacamole and chicharron is served at Taco Brat in Costa Mesa.(Drew A. Kelley )
Jennifer Lewis makes a watermelon margarita called La Sandia at Taco Brat in Costa Mesa on Thursday, June 15, 2017.(Drew A. Kelley )
La Sandia, a watermelon margarita, is served at Taco Brat in Costa Mesa.(Drew A. Kelley )
Taco Brat, a German-Mexican restaurant in Costa Mesa, is celebrating its grand opening through June 24.(Drew A. Kelley )
A photo of the original Taco Jr. facade of what is now Taco Brat in Costa Mesa.(Drew A. Kelley )
Anthony Buckley, right, makes a Beach Cruiser cocktail at Taco Brat in Costa Mesa on Thursday, June 15, 2017.(Drew A. Kelley )
Chelsea Dyer serves GerMexican Nachos at Taco Brat in Costa Mesa on Thursday, June 15, 2017.(Drew A. Kelley )
Taco Brat is not a taquería.
And it’s not pronounced brat as in a bratty child.
Rather, it’s brat as in bratwurst, and it’s now open in Westside Costa Mesa.
The German-Mexican food concept featuring tacos and bratwurst — a first for Orange County — is celebrating its grand opening from Saturday through June 24 with a raffle and free T-shirts and churros. Prizes include free Taco Brat food for a year.
The restaurant at 2101 Harbor Blvd. replaces Taco Jr., which closed this year. The property at Harbor and Hamilton Street has had a taquería on it since at least 1958.
But after saving Taco Jr.’s 1950s-era building, which had been slated for demolition, Costa Mesa resident and Taco Brat chef Thomas Curran, formerly of Umami Burger and California Pizza Kitchen, and his business partner, Chance Owen, have significantly renovated it with their new concept.
With about 30 employees and seating capacity for about 40 customers, the full-service restaurant can accommodate significantly more patrons than Taco Jr., which primarily functioned as a takeout window.
Taco Brat’s design scheme is eclectic, with some Mexican elements — the tiles below the bar, for instance — and even some industrial touches, such as the piping that holds up the bar. There also are various pictures, including old shots of Taco Jr.
“It’s industrial, hacienda, Mexican-German,” Curran said during a preview event Thursday.
For Owen, whose other enterprise is a clothing apparel company, Taco Brat is his first foray into the food world.
“It’s surreal when you literally pull back the onion and see people eating our food,” he said.
Much of the patio is taken up by a flat dirt area with cornhole and Jenga games. Beer kegs with plants atop them help enclose the patio. Other California native plants and an olive tree surround the building.
Appetizers on the menu include sauerkraut “done Grandma’s way,” Taco Brat says, with fried pork rinds in chili lime powder and charro beans.
Starters include kartoffelpuffer — fried potato pancakes with applesauce and green onion cream — as well as “GerMexican” nachos, which are house-made chips topped with kartoffelpuffer, sausage, charro beans, queso, bacon, esquites, guacamole, house-made salsa and chicharrón.
The nachos also come in a burrito.
Tacos include carne asada, rockfish and fried avocado. And there are sausages, burritos, salads and desserts, including Taco Brat’s take on mini churros.
The bar features signature drinks including Más Fumar (sabe blanco, fresh lime juice, ginger, beer and smoked salt) and Café de Olla (horchata, cold-brew coffee, sabe blanco and fresh whipped cream).
Taco Brat serves a variety of beer on tap and in bottles, along with wine and gourmet sodas.
The restaurant opens at 10:30 a.m. daily and closes at 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Onsite parking is limited, but patrons who show a receipt from Uber or Lyft or ride a bike to the restaurant can get free churros for the grand-opening period.
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