Playa Mesa Rolando Rubalcava Playa Mesa

Playa Mesa

428 E. 17th St. (Tustin Ave.)
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Cuisine: Mexican
Familiar Mexican cuisine gets an elevated twist at this sleek Costa Mesa restaurant, which also serves killer tequila cocktails.
Openings: Lunch Mon.-Fri., Dinner nightly, Brunch Sat.-Sun.


Playa Mesa, Costa Mesa, CA

Playa Mesa Restaurant Review:

About the restaurant & décor: Located in the midst of Costa Mesa’s ultra-hip and ultra-packed 17th Street, this Mexican restaurant has a decorative scheme of light woods, contrasting wall patterns, and bright pops of turquoise that creates a sleek yet refreshing Baja-esque beach vibe. The striking aesthetic makes it easy to order a margarita or an excellent tequila-based cocktail. It also sets the tone for a nuanced elevated take on familiar Mexican flavors.

Likes: Bright, colorful space.
Dislikes: Accelerated course pacing.

Food & Drinks: Executive chef and former Taco Maria sous chef Rolando Rubalcava plumbs the depths of Mexico’s numerous regions to deliver dishes that slightly deviate from the expected, and these departures boost their intrigue and enjoyment. Kick things off with a confit oyster mushroom-stuffed quesadilla, a generous ceviche, or the surprisingly essential house salad with grilled shrimp, arugula, spiced walnuts and honey mezcal dressing. Classics dot the menu, but we recommend exploring entrées like the chile-rubbed al pastor pork chop or the grilled whole trout to get the full effect of Rubalcava’s skill set. For dessert, the chocolate cake/flan hybrid dubbed “chocoflan” is a must. The wine list is compact, but the roster of tequilas and mezcals is impressively deep. Weekend brunch features items such as chilaquiles and chorizo con papas, as well as a mariachi band on Sundays.