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The New El Coyotito Is The Same But Different – Orange County Register

A few years ago I wrote about a Mexican restaurant in San Juan Capistrano called El Coyotito, a restaurant lost in time and hidden from view that had always been there, but hardly anyone I knew had ever heard of it. It remains one of my favorite under-the-radar lunch dates for a number of reasons. The squeaky screen door. The jukebox. The open kitchen and the smell of carne asada smoldering on the grill. The freshly pressed tortillas and the handmade Micheladas. The grilled langoustines. The charming, family-run service…

The family that owns El Coyotito recently opened a spin-off in Orange. It is even smaller than the original, only seating about 18. It doesn’t have the same cool vibe as the original. There is no jukebox. No telenovelas on TV. But the hospitality is as warm as ever.

They don’t have a liquor license at this location yet, although they hope they do. You can’t get one of those incredible hand-mixed Micheladas here just yet. And they now have no room in the fridge for the langoustines. The kitchen is only slightly larger than a food truck, and the chefs (all from the original restaurant) are still getting used to the new, even tighter digs.

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All recipes at El Coyotito #2 come straight from the original kitchen. While certainly not short, the menu has been drastically reduced. The menu is great. The tacos are excellent – served on the same made-to-order, hand-pressed tortillas. And while they don’t serve their famous langoustines yet, they do offer grilled peel-and-eat shrimp, which are seasoned in that same spicy red chili sauce that sputters and sears on the griddle.

My favorite thing to eat here is arguably the arriero, a Mexico City-style quesadilla filled with handfuls of chorizo, asada, and adobada, along with onions and melted cheese.

When opening a second restaurant, it is always difficult to create an atmosphere, especially one that has developed and evolved over decades. What’s even harder, though, is replicating the food that made the original worth expanding in the first place. And on that point, El Coyotito hits the nail on the head.

The Coyote #2

Where: 2697 N. Orange Olive Rd., Orange

When: Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner

Phone: 714-363-3656

Online: instagram.com/elcoyotito2