Created and named after a town in Mexico, Morelia, Amorelia is a family owned business that takes everything into consideration. Much like any family restaurant, Amorelia’s menu reflects childhood recipes, traditional influence, and a new spin on recognized classics. I had the pleasure of dining there this evening and sitting down with Daniel Paniagua, the owner. Daniel and his family pride themselves on food that isn’t what everyone expects. Growing up, they cooked a lot of vegetarian dishes and while their menu has plenty of food for meat lovers, it is a fair balance of both. To start, I ordered their infamous Cafe de Olla. Scrumptious! This is coffee infused with fresh cinnamon and it is utterly exquisite! Who knew something so simple could transform you to feel like you’re in the center of a beautifully ornate Mexican city.
While they are continually expanding the menu, making adjustments, including adding more vegetarian dishes, the food I tasted was really delicious (and comforting!). Since I had a pint-sized guest with me, we ordered a few different items:
Kids Menu: Bean & Cheese Burrito
Enchiladas Placeras: Cheese and Vegetables with traditional Placeras sauce (red)
Flan: for Dessert
Both dishes served were served with rice and beans. It’s important to add that the beans are NOT cooked with lard and the rice is mixed with peas and corn and bits of cilantro. Their theory is to cook food naturally without adding fatty content like lard. After dinner, I got one last pass of that zesty Cafe de Olla and I ordered the House Flan. Dessert was really fantastic. The flan was not mediocrity. It is certainly made with love.
The decor of Amorelia is simple, yet very warming. The walls are made of stone, near the kitchen is a wall with a window pane housing a worn wooden frame set in the stone, and the lighting is in the form of iron lampposts with two-to-three butterflies strategically placed on them – some of which open and close. (In order to understand the butterflies, it is worth mentioning that Morelia, Mexico, is known for the Monarch butterflies that migrate there each year in the hundreds of thousands. It is said to be quite miraculous.)
As the night drew near, the live sounds of Spanish guitar performed by Pasion Gitana hummed in the background. I glanced at my check which was modest to say the least. Great food at an incredible price (almost unheard of!). The restaurant staff is very friendly and there is live music on selected evenings. Amorelia is still working on their menu but it is a kid-friendly, delicious, healthy, and a really tasty stop in Costa Mesa. It is wonderful to find Mexican fare that isn’t like everyone else. The only tip is keep in mind it’s in the shopping center and NOT the route that “Yelp!” takes you. It will take you to the backside of the restaurant. Aside from that, enjoy this unique blend of authentic Mexican. Well done, Amorelia.
Amorelia Mexican Cafe
2200 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627