Rick Bayless, the renowned chef behind Red O, won the title of Bravo’s Top Master Chef in 2009. He’s also won 3 James Beard awards for: Midwest Chef of the Year, National Chef of the Year, and Best American Chef of the Year.
With a few locations in Southern California, Red O is a high-end Mexican restaurant in an elegant atmosphere that features an impressive bar and lounge, and offers prime steaks and seafood using gourmet Mexican sauces. This is what I would call refined Mexican cuisine.
As soon as you walk in the grand entrance, there is an extraordinary Tequila display showcasing an extensive collection of premium Tequilas.
Although the dishes here are true to the flavors of Mexico, the space evokes a luxurious Moorish, Spanish Mediterranean flair with red accents all over.
The crowd here is hip & classy, and appears to be slightly older with folks in their 30s, 40s and 50s.There is a live band every night of the week and the music is good, you’ll hear tunes such as the Gypsy Kings, Sting, and even some Instrumental music.
Red O is the total package and is one place in SoCal I keep returning to during each visit.
Alacran Margarita (left): A house favorite prepared with premium liquor, house-made Limonada and serrano Chile syrup. The Alcaran Margarita is essentially a Jalapeno Margarita with a hint of spice and totally smooth. A favorite!
Signature Red O Margarita (right): Similar to the Alacran Margarita, this signature drink does not contain chilies, and thus it isn’t spicy, but rather strong and smooth.
Classic Guacamole: The guacamole was wonderful. It consisted of perfect amounts of lime, cilantro and salt with a little spice. The texture was both creamy and chunky.Yellowtail Aguachile: Hamachi Yellowtail sashimi in a spicy lime broth with avocado, knob onion, cucumber and orange. Although I’m not a fan of raw fish, the delicious sauce was sweet, spicy and limey. The orange flavor stood out as well. For anyone looking for a healthy appetizer option, this appetizer right here is a must do!
Prime Steak & Seafood
Pescado Del Dia: Chef’s daily selection of fresh fish, grilled and served with white rice and finished off with guajillo chimichurri. The fish of the day was a mahi-mahi which was crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. The delicious chimichurri sauce was a little bitter, yet sweet. It was perfect balance and overall a good health option as well. Very well made!
Braised Short Rib Enchiladas: Short Rib Enchiladas topped off with a red guajillo Chile sauce, melted Monterey Jack Cheese and comes with a side of red rice and black beans. The meat is so incredibly tender, juicy and flavorful. This is the kind of meat that literally falls of the bone. Additionally, the red rice and black beans have depths of flavor with just the right amount of salt. Outstanding dish!Pollo Asado: Grilled half chicken sitting over a bed of tinga sauce, charred broccolini, tostones and finished off with a crema sauce. The chicken was a little sweet and slightly chewy. This dish was just okay for me.
Tres Leches: A delicate cake soaked in three different types of milk and topped with whipped cream, fresh berries and mint. The tres leches was not too sweet, had a subtle mint flavor, and was a nice complement to a filling meal.
Passion Fruit Butter Cake: The first time I had Butter Cake was at Maestro’s which was amazing. Red O’s version did not disappoint and was served with grilled strawberries, passion fruit custard, coconut crumble and coconut ice-cream. The addition of passion fruit and coconut reminded me of tropical flavors. Despite being a “butter” cake, this cake had an element of lightness to it that I loved. A favorite!
RESTAURANT REVIEW: Red O
CUISINE: Mexican, Seafood, Steakhouse
FAVORITES: Alacran Margarita | Chips & Salsa | Classic Guacamole | Pescado Del Dia | Braised Short Rib Enchiladas | Passion Fruit Butter Cake
VERDICT: 4.5 / 5
A visually stunning restaurant with Moorish themed décor that looks even more visually appealing during the evening hours. Compared to similar establishments in the vicinity, Red O has it down to a T. The restaurant does not just draw in a young crowd, but rather appeals to all age groups. The atmosphere here is upscale, romantic, inviting and doesn’t feel pretentious at all. The food at Red O is excellent, and my favorite dish here are the Braised Short Rib Enchiladas. Now let me preface this by saying that I’m not someone who typically eats red-meat, I never ever order it, but these Short Rib Enchiladas are the reason why I’m slowly getting myself into red-meat, within moderation though. For a dish to have that affect on me is a big deal. Furthermore, the bar offers Happy Hour from 3pm to 7pm daily, and on Tuesdays selected tacos are just $3 all day! I look forward to dining at Red O again when I’m back in the OC, but this time I would love to try out their Brunch… Chilaquiles anyone?
Food: Excellent | Drinks: Excellent | Décor: Romantic/Trendy | Service: Friendly/Attentive |Value: Good
Have you been to any of the Red O locations in SoCal? If so, what did you think? What was your favorite dish?