Instead, the new eatery's cuisine reflects ancient Mesoamerican roots in Mexico City and the Aztec and Mayan cultures.
“It is our first restaurant, it became a dream come true,” said Luis Briones who, along with wife Vronica, have opened the new eatery at 2015 Garnet Ave.
Previously, Luis was an accountant and financial analyst at a restaurant chain in Orange County. He was encouraged to change occupations by his boss who told him, “You know everything about the business, you should open your own place.”
Added Luis, “The passion became stronger because my background is from Mexico City.”
Food from Mexico City and central Mexico, noted Luis, is heavily influenced by recipes served on pita bread from Lebanese and Turkish immigrants.
“Lamb was very expensive in Mexico, so they started using pork,” said Luis. “That’s how tacos el pastor was born.”
A mainstay of Pacific Fresh Grill’s menu, tacos al pastor is a dish developed in central Mexico based on shawarma spit-grilled meat, similar to the Turkish döner kebab and the Greek gyros.
How are Mexico City-style tacos different?
“Flavors,” replied Luis, noting tacos el pastor is served with grilled pineapple. “It’s a street food. But it’s one of the most delicious tastes.”
Luis said many of his menu items are derived from his mother’s family recipes.
Deep-fried quesadillas are just one of Mexico City’s delicacies served at Pacific Fresh Grill. Luis pointed out unemployed people there often make ends meet by opening street taco stands.
Pacific Fresh Grill also puts its own twist on tacos and other dishes.
“Here in California, it’s just a flour tortilla with a lot of cheese,” said Luis. “But in Mexico City, you actually have quesadillas without cheese, which is a folded tortilla with a filling in the middle. You have different influences: beef, pork.”
Items on Pacific Fresh Grill’s menu include: a shrimp taco with chimichurri, Luis’s culinary take on an Argentinian sauce; several different chili-pepper based mole sauces; a sampler taco plate with three choices; tostadas; panucho, a Yucatan speciality made of homemade tortillas stuffed with black bean sauce and topped with Cochinita Pibill or Tinga; Taco in Nahuatl, a tortilla with a filling in the middle; Tacos de Cochinita Pibill, pulled pork with pickled onions on a corn tortilla; and grilled- or Baja-style fish tacos.
“We don’t use your typical refried beans, but black beans,” noted Vronica, who added a visit to Pacific Fresh Grill is more than just a meal.
“A lot of our customers are saying, when they come here to eat, they get a history lesson as well because almost every dish has a (historical) background to it, as if you were going to that region,” she said.
Decor inside Pacific Fresh Grill is simple, tasteful and spacious with plenty of seating and original artwork displayed from a local artist.
Pacific Fresh Grill
2015 Garnet Ave, Ste. 103
Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, closed Sundays.