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Northgate’s New Mercado González in Costa Mesa Brings More Than 27 Food Vendors Under One Roof

Here's a look at more than 27 food stands and one fine dining restaurant inside Northgate's brand new Mercado González in Costa Mesa, from Sinaloan-style sushi to quesatacos to a churro legend.

Photo by: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.

Blessed by a priest and serenaded by live mariachi and Folklorico dancers, Northgate Market kicked off the grand opening of their new venture, Mercado González in Costa Mesa last week.

The 70,000-square-foot store, similar in look to its sister storefronts, is much bigger and even more packed with authentic Mexican flavors at every turn. Walking in to the aroma of warm tortillas and churros, you immediately notice the openness. It’s spacious and easy to get lost in all of its glory.

Mercado González opened last Friday and is designed to reflect Mexican mercados like Oaxaca's Mercado de Artesenías, where vendors of ingredients and goods mix with stalls selling their cooking. It looks like an indoor swap meet inside, filled with traditional spices and warm foods to artisanal items and Mexican goods for home.

According to the González family, the intention behind the Mercado was to take people on a journey “through the heart and soul of Mexican cuisine.” To do this, they've imported several iconic Mexican restaurants and their specialties to Costa Mesa, too, like the warm churros and seven types of hot chocolate offered at El Moro, one of the vendors at the new complex. 

Behind El Moro’s white walls and glass, you will see familiar faces fitted with blue aprons stirring hot chocolate and frying some of the best churros you will have in the U.S. One bite into the perfect crispy and cinnamon-coated treat and you are sure to be transported to your last trip to Mexico City.

There are over 27 different puestos (food stands), from Carnitas Don Miguel to tortas ahogadas from Chiva Torta. There's a dish for any craving you may have.

Another Los Angeles restaurant serving its taste of Mexico is Tacos Los Güichos, owned by the family Zenteno, and one of the go-to stands after an LAFC game near the 110 freeway in South Central. Just look out for the giant, bright red trompo spinning and you’re there. 

The new El Morro at Mercado González. Screenshot via El Moro.

“This is a dream for all of us,” said Sergio González, taking it all in as he sat for a moment at last week's celebration. “For those who are immigrants that are away from home, they seek to feel close to what they know, and we hope that they’ll be able to find a little bit of that here, with the flavors and the store itself.”

La Tamalería is one of the many new stands inside Mercado González. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Fresh dried chiles and spices at Mercado González. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Statues of the Virgin Mary inside the new Mercado González. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.

Another puesto that had attendees raving was Birríeria y Menuderia La Tapatía, where you can dunk your birria quesataco in savory consomé, or cure that hangover with hearty menudo. Just follow the warm smell of freshly griddled masa for some freshly made tortillas de harina at the tortillería.

If you are looking for more of a fine dining experience, the new Mercado also has an intimate restaurant called Maizano from Jorge Salim and Javier Hernandez Pons, the duo behind beloved Los Angeles restaurants LA Cha Cha Cha and Loreto.

The restaurant has dim lighting, a full bar, and a transparent kitchen window to see the chefs at work on your meal, which could entail mole, sopa de lima, and a variety of memelas and tetelas. 

Maizano is Mercado González's fine dining restaurant. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Birriería y Menudería La Tapatía. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
A quesataco from La Tapatía. Photo by: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Tacos from Los Güichos. Photo by: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Sinaloan-style sushi at Mercado González. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
An assortment of Sinaloan-style sushi inside the new Mercado González. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.

For those needing a drink after work, stop by Northgate’s Entre Nos Bar, a 6,000-square-foot outdoor space adorned with greenery. The bar offers anything from micheladas to mezcal, tequila, and Mexican beers. 

In addition to the restaurants, the mercado will also serve as a grocery store, with an abundance of dried chiles, produce, and potato sacks filled with beans and rice in one part of the store; tamales in the other.

Freshly pressed flour tortillas at the new Mercado González. Photo by Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Handmade soap at the new Mercado González. Photo by: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.
Candles and religious figures at Mercado González. Photo by: Janette Villafana for L.A. TACO.

They have it all, from virgencita statues to the famous saint candles your mom's religiously lights, and a section to shop for artisanal items.

The store makes a point of carrying Latino-owned and family-owned businesses in their offerings, like Marcela Arrieta from Los Altos de Jalisco, who owns VIDA, a brand selling candles and bars of soap made of local herbs, oils, and botanicals.

Another small business we spotted was L.A.-based Michi Dip, which provides a variety of Mexican candies coated in chile that are meant to elevate your drink with spice and sweetness. 

For the González family, another goal for the new store was to bring people together to enjoy good food that reminds them of home. A place where everyone belongs and where there’s a little bit of everything for everyone. 

“We come together over food," Gonzalez said. "That’s just tradition and you know that when the food is good, the conversation is going to be good too, so we just want people to come, enjoy themselves with their loved ones, and create memories."

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