Get to Know Mesa’s New Chef Through His New New Health-Focused Menu
Written By: Crawford McCarthy
Photography Provided By: Sarah King Vegetarian Dishes at Mesa
It takes a lot to create a great restaurant in Orange County. Perhaps that’s why Mesa is such a special place, acting as not just a great restaurant, but a beacon of the OC lifestyle. From the staggeringly beautiful designed space to the delicate spirits flowing from the bar to the intensely popular nightlife, Mesa seems to have it all. Now, with the introduction of Chef Abel Vargas and the premiere of his new vegetarian menu options, that perception shifts from a feeling to fact.
Chef Vargas brings a wealth of experience to Mesa’s kitchen, applying his globally-inspired background to the menu as he shifts from larger plates to more shareable, tapas-style dishes. With his leadership, stemming most recently from his time as the executive sous chef at Habana, Mesa is poised to continue their legacy of success. It is safe to say Mesa has never been a subtle venue, known for the bold music, events and flavors that have made it what it is today. Now, with Chef Vargas penning the menu, armed with his belief in food’s ability to hit a person’s core and lift their emotions up, the flavor and volume at Mesa, literally and figuratively, has just gotten a lot louder.
When asked about his three new vegetarian options which are beets, cucumber salad and mushroom toast, Chef Vargas said the following:
Q: How heavily do in-season ingredients play a part in constructing a dish?
Abel Vargas: Seasons always play a huge role. In summer you want to eat light and refreshing. I try to think of the feeling of the guests when creating.
Q: Is there a favorite flavor or technique of yours these dishes highlight?
AV: My favorite on the menu right now is the cucumber dish. It’s a play on something old and new. We make green goddess (old) and server with cucumber and herbs of cilantro, dill and mint (new).
Q: What is your goal for the experience the diner has when they eat these dishes?
AV: The goal is always to make delicious food and make guests happy. I hope to achieve [this by] creating with simple ingredients and how it surprises people. I always try to be different but simple and straight to the point. I like adding depths of flavor and surprising guests.
Q: Is there a favorite flavor or seasoning you use with the dishes?
AV: I’m huge on salt! I believe with any dish or ingredient the correct amount of salt will make it delicious.
Q: What is the one thing in the kitchen you can’t live without?
AV: One thing I can’t live without in the kitchen is tasting spoons. You must taste every day, all day!
725 Baker St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626