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Restaurant Pick : Chaak Kitchen, Tustin, California

Neither my husband, my mother-in-law nor I had ever tried Yucatan food previous to going to Chaak Kitchen.  So we looked at it as a grand food adventure, and we were all so glad we did!

I am also on a Keto diet (no sugar, no breads, potato, rice or beans), so I was very glad that there were options for me.

Chaak Kitchen did not disappoint.  It is located on El Camino Real, a cute tree-lined street in Tustin.  The adjacent parking lot hosts the weekly farmers’ market. The restaurant itself is in a beautiful white brick building, and there is a lot of natural light coming in from the many windows and the open concept in the front. It is tastefully decorated, the pale wooden floors, the fabric sun shades on the ceiling and candles on the wall, add warmth and style. Nice size bar area for dining or having cocktails.

I will definitely go back.  I wish it were closer to where we lived, as it could easily become a regular lunch or dinner spot.  Maybe we’ll see each other there sometime – bon appetit!

Our server Carlos was outstanding.  He was enthusiastic, warm, genuine and welcoming. On hearing it was our first time there and first time trying Yucatan food, he was very excited to make suggestions and describe how dishes were cooked.  His suggestions were excellent. In fact we didn’t want to miss out trying some, so ordered a few different dishes and left with leftovers that made delicious lunches the next day!  They also had a fairly extensive wine and beer selection from around the world.

Here are the menu selections we tried:

Keto dieters, be excited about this dip:

Sikil P’ak, a pumpkin seed dip, it isn’t the prettiest dip, but it is absolutely delicious, served with tortilla chips, chicharrones (otherwise known as pork rinds, very Keto friendly & perfect carriers for dips) and cucumber slices.  If you order these,  the escabeche pickles and black habanero sauce drizzled on top knock it out of the park! By the way, I have experimented making this and I’d say it was pretty good – so it may just be added to my menu selections sometime in the near future!

Sikil P’ak

Arugula Salad with pecorino, avocado, hard boiled egg and lardons.  This was very refreshing; the house dressing was a nice vinaigrette.  I did take a photo when I remembered to, but oops we’d already eaten all the lardons – and they were very well cooked!

Arugula Salad …missing the lardons and hard boiled egg that got eaten








Empanadas filled with Oaxaca cheese in a corn pastry – looked like a tortilla chip formed into a half moon.  My husband thought the pastry was interesting and cooked perfectly, but thought the filling was a little bland and a chili verde or something spicier than the cheese would have been a better filler.








Cochinita Pibil Panuchos a puffy tortilla topped with smoked pork shoulder, escabeche, avocado aioli, radish.  I didn’t try the tortilla, but my husband said it was very light and flavorful.  I did however have a bite of the pork, and it was heavenly – tender with a slight smoky flavor!






Almejas al Vapor Picantes: little neck clams with green chorizo in a herb broth with scallions and avocado.  This was a delicious dish, and for those who are eating bread, they have a thick bread I was told was very yummy and great for dipping into the broth.

Little neck clams with green chorizo in a herb broth









Pescado al Mojo : striped bass in a garlic-citrus mojo, cherry tomato, asparagus and garbanzo puree.  This was my favorite dish of them all! The skin was crispy, fish was meaty and flaky, very moist and flavorful.  I could eat this once a week (minus the garbanzo puree)!

Striped bass with garlic-citrus mojo







Bistec en Recado: prime aspen ridge arrachera (hanger steak), peppers and charred red onions, served with a creamy herb sauce.  The meat was charred on the outside and very tender, very good – didn’t need the sauce.

Bistec en recado