We love OC, we really do. But sometimes, the impulse to get away somewhere – anywhere – arises, and it’s not always possible to drop everything, grab your passport and go. That’s why we’re grateful that a few local restaurants specialize in making us feel like we’re getting away, even if we haven’t left county lines. Enter sangria, a wine-based cocktail that evokes pleasant thoughts of long afternoon siestas, lingering evening tapas and Latino-inspired adventure. Here’s where to go in OC to dream big and drink well. Salud!
THE STORY Situated in the historic Santora Building in Santa Ana’s burgeoning Artist’s Village, Lola Gaspar feels more like your very talented culinary neighbor’s kitchen than a regular pay-and-eat establishment. With the chef sending out Spanish-leaning dishes like pork relleno and chorizo flatbread and an atmosphere that practically demands weighty conversation and intellectual debate, it’s the place to go with good company for good food.
TRY THIS Lola Gaspar keeps things simple by offering only one kind of sangria: the red version. And while they’re understandably evasive about their secret in-house recipe, we did manage to learn that it contains pineapple, orange and apple, as well as rum and brandy.
714.972.1172 :: lolagaspar.com
THE STORY We love Cucina Enoteca for the simple reason that it caters to our every whim. You want a social after-work vibe? It’s got that. You want a sophisticated Italian-inspired meal? It’s got that, too. You want a casual patio where you can watch the world go by while sipping on a glass of fine wine? Done. And if you happen to be looking for the most amazing ricotta gnudi (ricotta-stuffed pasta dumplings) that are drowned in sage brown butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano and amaretti cookies, you’ve found the right place.
TRY THIS OK, so we admit that it’s stretching it a little far to include an Italian restaurant in an article about sangria. But hear us out – Cucina Enoteca’s Sardinian sangria is made with red wine, Galliano (a sweet herbal liqueur), brandy, and fresh fruit, which means you may (gulp) prefer it to the original.
949.861.2222 :: cucinaenoteca.com
Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen
THE STORY Gabbi Patrick may not be the name you’d expect behind the county’s most traditional Mexican restaurant, but make no mistake: This executive chef knows a thing or two about Old World Mexican cuisine. Combining indigenous recipes with New World interpretations, Patrick uses her extensive traveling experience through Mexico and her schooled culinary techniques to create a more refined version of south-of-the-border fare.
TRY THIS Sangria isn’t a Mexican invention but it deserves an honorary mention amongst the Latino-centric cuisine found at Gabbi’s. Just imagine a glass full of sangria, filled to the brim with red wine and fresh fruit alongside your shortrib empanadas and we have a feeling you’ll be clamoring for sangria at your local taqueria before long.
714.633.3038 :: gabbipatrick.com