Hibiscus Smash

Margarita Monday: Descanso

I recently moved to Costa Mesa back in January. This is great because I’m closer to more cool places for Happy Hours. One place that I have been dying to try out is Descanso. For those of you that speak Spanish, then you know that this translates to break. Who says you can’t take a break on a Monday and have some tasty Margaritas.

The Restaurant

The best thing about Descanso is the fact that it is within walking distance from my house. That allows me to have as many margaritas as I want without having to worry. Descanso also offers special offerings on specific days of the week. That includes Taqueria Tuesday for cheap tacos and Wine Wednesdays for deals on glasses of wine and no corkage fees for your own bottle of wine.

Flat-Top Grill

Descanso is a unique eatery because they have flat-top grills throughout the restaurant. Seats are surrounding them to allow people to watch the food being cooked. This one is located in the front half of the restaurant so they have to make it the most presentable with cool posters right above.

Plancha Room

There is a whole room dedicated to these flat-top grills and as you can see a lot of people can see the cooking happening. It’s been a while for me but the concept is similar to Benihanas. However, for me being the Mexican food lover I am, Descanso does it better. I love the murals that are in this room because it helps give off the feeling that you are getting ready for a true Mexican feast.

Indoor Bar

The bar located inside brings in a lot of natural sunlight with the window right behind the bottles of liquor. Another cool thing about this bar is the cage of liquor that hovers above you as you enjoy your concoction. The festive teal-colored wall gives the restaurant a pop and reinforces the feel of the Mexican restaurant.

Outdoor Bar

Depending on your comfort level they have either indoor or outdoor dining. I like how the indoor and outdoor bars are right behind the other to give the bartenders convenience. Although during my experience the bartender still went indoors to make the drink. When it gets busier, I feel they would bring out the full set up so the bartenders aren’t constantly going back and forward.

Drink Menu

Now let’s take a look at the menu. The first and the most important part are the drinks. Since this is a Mexican restaurant the majority of drinks are margaritas. This is fitting because I came on a Monday which I like to dedicate as Margarita Mondays. Although those of you, not big tequila drinkers, there is a vodka-based drink and beer and wine.

Food Menu

One of the things that popped out at me was the fact that they have sides on the Happy Hour menu. Unfortunately, one has to buy chips and salsa when most places offer it for free. Luckily they are pretty cheap at $1.50 but I should have upgraded to the chips, salsa & chicharrones. One restaurant that pops to mind that brought out something unique with their chips and salsa was Solita. However, at Solita instead of chicharrones, it was durros.

Chips and Salsa

Even though one has to pay for chips and salsa I feel like any trip to a Mexican restaurant is not complete without a basket of fresh tortilla chips with a side of salsa. The side of salsa frita that was served had a smoky taste which came from the roasted tomatoes blended within. The salty and warm tortilla chips were the ideal vessel for dipping.

Hibiscus Smash

I know Mondays are meant for margaritas but I just had to try the hibiscus smash. I do have to say that this is one refreshing cocktail and ideal for a hot day. One component that makes this drink fresh is the mint leaves throughout which reminds me of a mojito. The lemon juice provides some citrus notes to each sip you draw from the glass. The main reason to get this drink is for the hints of hibiscus. They utilize a hibiscus flower syrup which gives the drink its iconic pretty pink color.

Olvera Street Margarita

The next drink that I had was the Olvera Street Margarita. Olvera street is in reference to the famous street in Los Angeles filled with a variety of Mexican shops and restaurants. This libation is meant for fans of spicy drinks but luckily it was sweet and spicy which made it more enjoyable. The menu says they use a house-infused serrano chile tequila, however when I asked to see the bottle they showed me a bottle of Tanteo Habenero tequila. I’m not sure if they had run out of the serrano chile tequila so they substituted it with the habanero tequila.

The first sip you take from this drink is one from the heat of the spicy tequila. Luckily the sweetness that comes from the house-made raspberry shrub, essentially a raspberry puree, helped to balance out the heat. The tangerine juice is something I haven’t seen used in a drink before. Sure they are essentially tiny oranges but it’s different that they specifically use tangerines. One last ingredient that helps cut down the heat is the agave syrup which is the perfect accompaniment for a margarita.

El Descanso Margarita

I just had to give the El Descanso Margarita a try since it is their most popular drink in the restaurant. Sure it’s just a typical margarita but it is one fresh-tasting margarita. The lime juice, tequila, and agave all had the perfect ratios which brought about a well-balanced drink. For me, the addition of orange juice helped to make this one of the tastiest original margaritas I’ve ever had.

Al Pastor Taco Skillet

The taco skillet is one of their relatively new happy hour items. It was introduced just last year as a fun build your own taco appetizer. One can pick from steak, chicken, or al pastor as their proteins. But one thing that is consistent with all of the skillets is the grilled onions, poblano peppers, and fingerling potatoes. I find the potatoes to be a unique addition to put within a taco. Sure I know chorizo and potato tacos are a thing but you don’t see it too often.

The cold ingredients that are thrown on top include spring onions, serrano chiles, and cilantro. A taco wouldn’t be complete without some sauce. Descanso’s solution to this is orange chile Morita aioli that is drizzled across the skillet. Chile Morita is smoked red jalapeños to bring on a spicy and smoky flavor. Also with the help of a wedge of lime, you can bring on some zest of the citrus juice.

Al Pastor Taco

The taco skillet is served with blue corn tortillas which I’ve never had during any of my Happy Hour Adventures thus far. After building the perfect taco with every ingredient It was time to dig in. Some of the pieces of the al pastor were unfortunately chewy and fatty. However, the flavors of the meat outweighed this fault. All the ingredients from the heat of the poblano peppers to the sweetness of the roasted onions made for a tasty taco. The potatoes made this appetizer feel more substantial and filling.

Choriqueso Verde

The last item on this Adventure was the Choriqueso Verde. Choriqueso essentially combining chorizo and queso into one word. While the Verde describes the green coloring throughout the dish. The big shock factor when the cast iron skillet was brought out was the fact that the chorizo was green. I could not believe my eyes because when one sees green meat one would tend to steer away from it. However, just think like you are eating something out of a Dr. Seuss book like Green Eggs and Ham.

Besides the look, I would have to say this was the tastiest dish of the day! The green chorizo is flavored with serrano peppers and spinach to give it that unique green color. The appetizer had great acidity and spice from the poblano Suiza and the avocado Torreado salsa. The warm and soft flour tortillas served on the side allow you to create the perfect cheesy and chorizo-filled taco.

Me Chowing down on a Taco

I wanted to thank the bartender Chris for his knowledge of the dishes and for serving up great drinks on this Adventure. A huge shout out to Rob the owner for being welcoming and getting me a great seat at the outdoor bar. He went through the menu and gave suggestions on the items I should order to have the best experience ever. I know I have many other Happy Hours to discover within Orange County but I can certainly say this is one restaurant that I will be returning to.

Website: Descanso







Since I had green chorizo for the very first time I have this question for you. What is the strangest colored food that you’ve come across?

Let me know down below in the comments and share with friends who would enjoy this Happy Hour.

May the adventures continue! Cheers!


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