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Ratings and reviews

RATINGS
Food
Service
Value

Details

CUISINES
Latin, Mediterranean, Spanish
Special Diets
Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options
Meals
Lunch, Dinner
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meals, features

MICHELIN Guide's Point of View

Courtesy of Chef Amar Santana, this cool and rustic tapas bar offers consistently pleasing food and an extensive list of sherries and Spanish wines ami...
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Reviews (176)
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LanguageEnglish
Traveler rating
84
47
25
12
3
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All reviews seafood paella chorizo rice bone marrow potatoes brussels sprouts amar santana bikini sandwich al horno spanish tapas segerstrom hall valet parking south coast taste buds service was impeccable great menu mouth watering
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Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

Great service. Great menu. Everything was great. The chicken with duck liver was my favorite but seems like you can't go wrong

Date of visit: July 2022
Helpful?1  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed June 21, 2022

Classy, hip, creative, delicious and close to my house... Vaca, I love you. I wanted to take my cousin to an amazing dinner and Vaca did not disappoint. We love love love to eat so nothing was off limits on the menu... Tip: everything is...shareable... Hence being called "tapas" Entrees can also be shared between 3-4. Depending on how big your appetite is. Walking in my first impression was, wow... The bar, the decor and the display of delicious meats had my eyes glowing. We were politely greeted and sat quickly. Reservations are a must. I am sure that the wait was at least about an hour to 2... Maybe even longer. If you do choose to go and there is a wait, South Coast is right across the way. So it may be a win/win. To start: Dranks: - Lam Bruto - Pretty good and strong! - Vaca Tonic - Very very pleased with their signature drink. Tapas: - Maiz: Corn with cheese, green onions and so damn tasty! - Bruselas: Brussels sprouts, chorizo and yummy goodness - Hueso Al Horno: BONE MARROW! Scrape it off the bone and put it on the amazing bread, perfection! - Rabo de Toro: OXTAIL, delicious. This may have been my favorite. I wish I had it all to myself. Entrees: - Seafood Paella - HUGE SERVING and very, very delicious. Comparable to when I went to Seville, Spain and Portugal. - Prime Hanger Steak - cooked to perfect medium rare I can't wait to come back in and try other mouth watering concoctions.More

Date of visit: January 2022
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Reviewed June 11, 2022

A ver y happening place with great tapas. If you love Paella this is the place for you. Although it is very busy and you are seated in close proximity it is amazing the noice level is completely tolerable.

Date of visit: June 2022
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Reviewed May 23, 2022 via mobile

First time visiting Vaca and it did not disappoint. Service was excellent. Bartender recommended drinks and tapas. Everything was on point. Highly recommend Vaca to everyone!

Date of visit: May 2022
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Reviewed April 18, 2022

I had called in advance to ascertain the parking situation and the $8 valet parking was a great help as we found our way into the restaurant via the red carpet and the rest of the dinner was simply magic. I asked for non-alcoholic drinks...and was recommended an interesting pineapple/orange/gingery drink called "sunskirt" which I really enjoyed, and then we also shared the bikini sandwich where the manchego cheese tasted really incredible and of course the Iberian ham was also very meaty inside between the buttery bread slices that actually reminded me of grilled cheese, and the warm octopus with fingerling potatoes were certainly of a very high caliber of cooking and yet the potatoes came off as somehow dry and flaky, and -the Valenciana paella apparently does take anywhere from 20-45 minutes to arrive as they are made on order but upon arrival everything inside the pan from the chorizo sausage pieces bursting with great flavor and the large succulent shrimps to the moist rice with a great tomato base and the perfectly portioned saffron aioli really made a memorable Spanish meal. As we were celebrating two April birthdays during this dinner, we were astonished when we received two surprise desserts of a warm almond cake topped with a smooth vanilla ice cream. We had also ordered a tarta de queso, or basque cheesecake, where the cheesecake component had a deliciously mild and yet creamy texture that allowed the true taste to linger on my tastebuds and was topped with a caramel drizzle and a sweet and nutty caramel ice cream. I truly appreciated the staff who continously worked to pick pieces of fallen food crumbs off of our table as this allowed us to truly savor the dishes before us and enjoy the meal to its fullest -- truly a Michelin quality dining experience from start to finish. We will definitely be returning and would like to highlight our incredible experience from our first visit for Amar & the Vaca team to know that they are doing such great work!!More

Date of visit: April 2022
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Reviewed March 18, 2022

Small and expensive tapas of inconsistent quality (ctopus is good, calamares average for instance, the chorizo is literally a few slices) Service is good. Wine prices are through the roof. We ended up paying 80 USD per person for 1 drink and

Date of visit: March 2022
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Reviewed September 9, 2021 via mobile

Costa Mesa has a lot of the better restaurants in OC and around SCP in particular, there are many. I have my usual stand-bys (Mastro’s, Cap Grille), but wanted to try Amar Santana’s place (Top Chef, season 13 runner up) and something walking distance to...Segerstrom Hall. The food here is solid; actually, quite good and much better than AnQi. They have $8 valet (no onsite parking, but there’s a nearby structure). Food is Spanish w paella, tapas and a fairly yummy cocktail list. Full-on COVID safety measures are in place at this restaurant.More

Date of visit: September 2021
Helpful?2  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed April 29, 2021

Went just for lunch but each dish we had blew our socks off. Everything we had was so delicious and the service was impeccable. The menu is full of awesome dishes so we can't wait to go back for dinner again, and again!

Date of visit: April 2021
Helpful?1  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed April 20, 2021

We have been shut down for so long in California, we just needed to get out. Vaca delivered. Our indoor table was delayed due to scheduling error( not good). We sat at the bar and ordered some awesome drinks . ,We chilled at the bar...for 15 minutes before asking what was up, only to be informed there were no indoor tables, clearly people were hanging out longer than pre covid. We did take a table outside with heaters. Not our request but it was fine. We had the octopus, thinly slice and was good. We then had the faux gras, Brussels sprouts and skirt steak. All we fantastic. A heads up, the drinks were fantastic and strong. Would come here just for the drinks. The kitchen is doing a great job. Table service was attentive and friendly. Kudos to Vaca.More

Date of visit: April 2021
Helpful?1  
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Reviewed November 2, 2020

I must say I am slightly disappointed with Vaca. We have been to Spain a LOT and the level of food quality vs prices was not even close to what you get in spain. The iberico ham was VERY disappointing for the price and quality....However the Foie gras was exceptional and made the meal. Drinks are high price and just not that good. Service was excellent. Oxtail was also quite good not world class but still very tasty. Good meal just below where I thought it would beMore

Date of visit: October 2020
Helpful?2  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed October 7, 2020

Went here for a birthday, so our party ordered most of the tapas. Not one was disappointing , all were very delicious. The steaks all came out cook to perfection. Definitely a restaurant to try. We will be back.

Date of visit: August 2020
Helpful?2  
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Reviewed February 11, 2020 via mobile

Ate there on the patio. Six different Tapas for two of us (as recommended). Among them: Relleno (peppers, Aguacate (Avocado), Vieiras (scallops), kale salad, Albondigas (lamb) and calamari. All excellent (calamari least favorite, Aguacate best.) Enjoyed a white Spanish wine with same. Service excellent. Bit...on the expensive side though. Highly recommended.More

Date of visit: January 2020
Helpful?3  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed February 9, 2020 via mobile

Good choices on tapas. Well executed. Service is fast. Food is well presented. One short coming is that prices are high. The paella isn’t my best but in the upper $30s range for a moderate size one. Passable paella only. Wine prices are sky high....That makes the $30 corkage almost seem ok.More

Date of visit: February 2020
Helpful?2  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed January 13, 2020 via mobile

Chef Amar Santana culinary skills are second to none, his cuisine is very Inovative and well executed. His dishes are always on point and bursting with flavor, the nice part of this restaurant is a very well equipped bar and a real and experienced bartenders,...they serve dry aged prime steaks and beef, absolutely delicious and cooked the way you can enjoy your steak. This restaurant is very busy therefore reservation is a must. Never had any issues here.More

Date of visit: December 2019
Helpful?3  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Reviewed December 28, 2019

We have walked by Vaca many times, going to and from Segerstrom and South Coast. Finally, we decided to splurge on dinner. We were sorry we did. We sat in the patio -- cold even with the heaters. Unremarkable setting and ambiance. We ordered three...tapas -- recommended by our server. Of the three, the bikini sandwich was very good; the other two were very ordinary. The paella Valenciana was $46 of not-so-great paella. To sum up: A high price for mediocre food in an ordinary space. There are many nearby restaurants that will give you a better all-around experience.More

Date of visit: December 2019
Helpful?6  
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Questions & Answers
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skitts06
March 6, 2017|
AnswerShow all 4 answers
Response from Priscilla G | Reviewed this property |
You are in luck!! They have a vegetarian paella!! And a couple of side dishes that are also vegetables and bread with tomatoes. All delicious.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Vaca

Vaca is rated accordingly in the following categories by Tripadvisor travelers:
  • Food: 4
  • Service: 4.5
  • Value: 3.5