When I first stepped foot onto the sleepy community of Brea Downtown, I was immediately in love. It was my kind of vibe. Quaint, picturesque, plenty of trees lined with sparkling lights, and enough entertainment and dining options to keep me happy. One such dining establishment is Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen (located across from the theater and near a parking structure – win/win).
I was invited here recently to check out their drink menu and partake in the happy hour lounge menu out on their patio as we people watched and soaked up the first round of libations. I started my evening with the Fresh Watermelon (ElJimador 100% pure tequila, fresh watermelon, hibiscus juice, fresh lime and agave nectar). This was highly recommended because it was a seasonal drink and would only be around until the end of Summer. You don’t have to tell me twice. I was sold and ordered another round of this wonderfully refreshing drink.
Due to traffic, I missed the first round of happy hour entrees (the guacamole and ceviche) but luckily, I was just in time for the Chicken Flautas (fresh chicken, roasted corn, gaujillo chile, Oaxacan cheese, in crisp flour tortillas, served with mango-habanero salsa). Flautas are one of my favorite Mexican dishes and these were slightly crispy and bursting with flavor. The mango habanero wasn’t as spicy as you’d think it would be and added a nice cooling finish.
After another round of drinks and polishing off the flautas, we were ready for the Nachos Cha Cha’s (crispy tortillas topped with epazote black beans, melted Mexican cheeses served with pico de gallo, jalapeno-escabeche, and sour cream). After one bite, it’s hard to share and I like that the cheese was melted over every bite. There was no chip left untouched which is exactly how I like my nachos – smothered with toppings.
Another favorite of the night was the quesadilla (Mexican cheeses, Poblano chile, white corn, jalapeno-escabeché, fire roasted tomato salsa, and sour cream). Ours came with a juicy marinated grilled skirt steak and we were licking our chops from all the flavors. The quesadilla was followed up with an assortment of tacos – shrimp and mahi mahi. Who doesn’t love a good happy hour taco?
The most surprising and unassuming dish of the night was the “Wood Fired” Queso Fundido (Traditional “cazuela” baked cheeses over Oaxacan cheese, in crisp flour tortillas; roasted poblano pepper and potatoes). I didn’t know what to make of this bubbling cheese dish but it was recommended that I stir up all the goodness, dig in, be silent, and just savor. I did just that and wow, I think this is the dish that will keep me coming back to Cha Cha’s. Don’t believe me. Order for yourself and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
We ran out of tortillas for our Queso Fundido but luckily we were saved by the Cha Cha Fries (crisp Yukon gold potatoes, tossed with fresh garlic and herbs, and served with a smoked chipotle aioli). There aren’t your traditional fries and I liked that they were thicker and potato-y. I like potato on my fries. After all, I want to know what it’s made of. Right?
The night ended with the Crisp Calamari (lightly coated with Mexican spices and golden corn meal and served with lime-cilantro aioli). I’ll be the first to admit that I hate calamari but that all changed after the first bite. Cha Cha’s makes a crispy calamari and my friends were surprised that I was polishing off this dish. Cha Cha’s, you’ve changed me forever.
Cha Cha’s is a great spot for date night, lunch with old friends, or a special occasion. If you’re still looking for a reason to go, here are three enticing options:
- Taco Tuesday – 50% off all tacos and tequila
- Wine and Enchilada Wednesday – 50% off enchiladas, wine, and housemade sangria
- Champagne Sunday Brunch – bottomless mimosa, brunch specials, and live music