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Dining Guide for Families in Orange County

Avila’s El Ranchito 40th Anniversary Celebration

We dined as a guest of Avila’s
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The last time that I remember dining at the Newport Beach Avila’s El Ranchito location was when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I spent the first part of my childhood growing up in a “beach house” on Lido Isle. When living in the area in the early 80’s, El Ranchito was ‘the place’ to go out to eat with your family on the Peninsula. Parents could have a cocktail ‘or two’ and the kids were fueled up with delicious food, and families could safely walk home. My favorite memory was when my Dad had the courage to drink a tequila with a worm. He did it just to get his name on a plaque on the wall of his favorite restaurant….he loved Avila’s that much!!

40 years later, the tequila champion plaques have come down, and the restaurant has transformed to fit the expectations of the 20th Century OC Family. Growing up dining off the El Ranchito menu, it has been hard to find anywhere that can compare. Our family has started our own SoCal dining tradition by frequenting the Laguna Niguel location on a weekly basis. My kid’s childhood would not be complete without creating memories with them at Avila’s just like I did as a child growing up in Orange County.

When planning my return to the NB El Ranchito location almost 20 years later in celebration of their 40th Anniversary, I told the kids all the stories of my favorite childhood dining memories at Avila’s. Then, as we made our way over the toll road, their grandparents shared their favorite memories over the phone.

When we first walked into the restaurant, it was like walking into a whole new restaurant. The tequila wall was gone; there was a patio, and everything was bright and airy. The one thing that remained the same was the dedicated staff and high-quality Mexican food.

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Instead of ordering the same dishes that we order week after week, we explored different dishes on the menu that will be featured during their ‘Throwback Thursday.’ Starting on April 2nd, select menu items will be discounted back to their original 1975 pricing on Thursday nights. While some of the menu items might change leading up to the event, we sampled the planned dishes and found some all-new favorite dishes to enjoy at our favorite OC Mexican Restaurant.

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It might sound funny, but my kids feel very passionate about Avila’s curly french fries. Many would not think that a local Mexican restaurant would have some of the best french fries in Orange County, but my kids 150% agree that they do. With fries on their mind..the first question that the kid’s asked the server was “do you have the same fries as the Laguna Niguel location?”

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With my oldest son fighting a cold, he savored the warm flavors of Mama Avila’s soup. A giant bowl arrived at the table full of large chunks of tender chicken, rice, tomato, cilantro, and avocado floating in a perfectly seasoned broth. The soup was large enough for at least two people to share and still have leftovers to bring home.

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I am an avid Avila’s fajita lover, and I found a new love when trying the carnitas. The dish came piled high with seasoned lean, juicy pork, rice, beans, guacamole and warm tortillas. The carnitas were tender, juicy, cooked to perfection, and quite possibly better than my all-time favorite steak fajitas. It’s not only the delicious seasoned meat that makes Avila’s carnitas and fajitas so desirable but also the large portion sizes making it convenient for parents to share a dish with their children.

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My husband has always ordered their Chimichanga but decided to try something new with the Azteca Treasure Burrito. The burrito is truly a “treasure” that came covered with a salsa ranchera sauce topped with melted cheese and guacamole. It wasn’t the outside of the burrito that tantalized his taste buds but the flavorful chunks of chicken breast, rice, and beans inside of the warm flour tortilla.

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The secret to our kid’s heart is not just the curly fries, but also the Chingoingas. Chingoingas are pastry filled goodness stuffed with delicious chicken and served with rice beans, guacamole, and sour cream. Think taquitos only bigger and better!

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Finally, my daughter Ella, is an El Ranchito enchilada fan, so she ordered the “Sonora” combination plate. The combination plate came with one of Avila’s famous tacos, “cheese” enchilada, rice and beans. The enchilada and taco were the perfect amount of food to satisfy her growing appetite, and the enchilada will always be her favorite at Avila’s.

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Don’t miss celebrating Avila’s 40th Anniversary by enjoying one of these featured dishes off their “Throwback Thursday” menu at 1975 pricing. The celebration begins starting on April 2nd at the Newport Beach location and will continue every Thursday night throughout the month of April. Avila’s El Ranchito is located at 2800 Newport Boulevard in Newport Beach.

Avila's El Ranchito on Urbanspoon

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