Mi abuela went to France and all I got was this restuarant. That’s just fine with me.
I have to admit, when I stepped foot into Anepalco at the ALO Hotel in Orange, CA, I definitely pre-judged when I read French-Mexican cuisine. The hotel itself is pretty basic overall, so when I saw the table next to me receiving the check in a wooden box I thought that this was going to be one of those places that is all talk and no walk. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Chef/owner Daniel Godinez stops at nothing to make sure every dish is executed perfectly. Each menu item puts the star ingredient in bold followed by the supporting flavors. Most Mexican cuisine focuses on having punch-in-the-mouth salsa where the meat and tortillas serve as the catalyst. However, on every dish I tried at Anepalco, I was blown away at how Chef Daniel meticulously cooked each protein and created a subtle sauce to highlight his perfection. Of course, the tortillas were all rustic and handmade which just brought everything full circle.
The duck carnitas was the perfect testament to how the kitchen was able to subdue the tart of the tomatillo bringing the intricacies of the duck to the forefront just as advertised on the menu. Some of the other more nuanced meats such as the octopus and lamb were beautifully cooked and upfront as well. I don’t usually care to order dessert, but after my stunning journey through the menu, I couldn’t help myself. It was a no brainer, and of course, I wasn’t disappointed.
From what I can tell, Anepalco seems to be a secret to most, but as we all know, any restaurant that puts the food first is bound to be a hit soon enough and this is no exception.