Nearby points of interest

  1. Distance: 0.11mi
  2. Distance: 0.13mi
  3. Distance: 0.24mi
  4. Distance: 0.29mi
  1. Distance: 0.11mi
  2. Distance: 0.13mi
  3. Distance: 0.24mi
  4. Distance: 0.29mi

Nearby points of interest

  1. Distance: 0.11mi
  2. Distance: 0.13mi
  3. Distance: 0.24mi
  4. Distance: 0.29mi
  1. Distance: 0.11mi
  2. Distance: 0.13mi
  3. Distance: 0.24mi
  4. Distance: 0.29mi

About VACA

Ahmed Labbate and Chef Amar Santana’s inaugural effort is the hugely successful Broadway in Laguna Beach, CA. The pair will extend their influence on Orange County’s dining scene with the acquisition of new space in Costa Mesa’s Park Towers. “Spanish food is influenced by the cultures that have invaded and mixed with the indigenous cuisine. Our goal goes far beyond paella and bocadillos. We will bring Barcelona, Madrid, Andalucía, Sevilla and the Basque to Orange County — just as Broadway has re-interpreted food and drink in Laguna,” said Santana.

695 Town Center Drive
Suite 170
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
View Larger Map

Dining Style:
Casual Dining

Cuisines:
Spanish

Hours of Operation:
Lunch: Monday thru Friday; 11 am - 02:30 pm, Bar open 11 - Close
Dinner: Tuesday thru Saturday; 5:00 pm - 10:30 pm
Dinner: Sunday & Monday; 5:00 pm - 09:30 pm

Cross Street:
Bristol

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$31 to $50

Payment Options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(714) 463-6060

Website:
http://www.vacarestaurant.com/

Parking Details:
Self parking in the structure is complimentary with validation both day and night.
Valet is complimentary during lunch hours and $7 in the evening.

Executive Chef:
Amar Santana

Additional:
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cafe, Chef's Table, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Private Room, Wheelchair Access, Wine

VACA Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.5

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.5

service

4.3

ambience

4.4

value

4.0

Noise

Moderate

88% would recommend it to a friend

Tapas (68)
Fit for Foodies (45)
Special Occasion (34)
See All
Creative Cuisine (34)
Good for a Date (33)
Pre/post Theatre (33)
Bar Seating (33)
Authentic (31)
Handcrafted Cocktails (30)
Hot Spot (29)
Good for Birthdays (27)
Vibrant Bar Scene (26)
Fun (25)
Worth the Drive (24)
Good for Anniversaries (23)
Business Meals (20)
Neighborhood Gem (20)
Casual (19)
Romantic (18)
Tasting Menu (18)
Happy Hour (16)
Notable Wine List (15)
Great for Outdoor Dining (14)
Good for Groups (13)
Cozy (11)
Great for Lunch (11)
Late-night Find (10)
Comfort Food (6)
Seasonal (6)
Paleo Friendly (5)
People Watching (5)
Local Ingredients (5)
Quick Bite (4)
Sunday Lunch (4)
Afternoon Coffee (3)
Gluten Free Options (3)
Healthy (3)
Spicy (3)
Good Vegetarian Options (3)
Great for Brunch (2)
Disabled Access (2)
Great Beer (2)
Live Sports (2)
Organic (2)
Quiet Conversation (1)
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701 reviews
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vip
 (Los Angeles)·Dined 6 days ago

It was my first time there and I can't wait to go back to try more entrees. Next time I'll take more people. Lots of fun.

Tags: Creative Cuisine, People Watching, Hot Spot, Great for Outdoor Dining, Late-night Find
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food5
ambience4
service4
value4

vip
 (Orange County)·Dined 6 days ago

Caesar is the bomb!! We trusted him to order our food and he was the best! He is the BEST server I've had and I am quite a restauroure

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Raleigh)·Dined on January 9, 2018

We had an amazing dinner with a group of 10 people. Our server made excellent recommendations on food and wine. The chicken cannelloni was life changing. Will definitely be back!

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Orange County)·Dined on January 7, 2018

Couldn’t get a reservation on Fri or Sat except 8:30 or after and 6 days in advance but when we sat down to dine, I noticed quite a few empty tables. The entrance is hard to find, you have to walk thru what looks like the patio, past tables to the door. Ordered sea urchin w/ egg, house drink, speciality ham & cheese served on a board, ham & cheese sandwich (we had cancelled the sandwich in place of the specialty carved ham & cheese but decided not to send it back), Vaca’s version of street corn and the seafood paella. Sea urchin was ok; ham sandwich same; paella was a bit dry as was the street corn. Best thing we ate was the speciality ham & manchego cheese. Passed in dessert and the didn’t ask or bring a birthday dessert even though it was listed on my request AND they asked when we walked in if we were celebrating anything. Service was moderate. Water waiter(s) were great, our server was MIA when we wanted to order more food and get the bill. Crowd were a lot of married couples w/ little kids and they got a night out. I know cuz we overheard theee couples convos and ended up talking to the couple next to us. Valet parking is $7. We do not plan to go back. Prefer Mastros down the street.

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food3
ambience4
service3
value3

 
·Dined on January 7, 2018

Food was to die for. Some may say pricy but you get what you pay for. Get a couple tapas as a meal and save money or you can treat yourself to fantastic, well prepared, grass fed meats. Great place for special events a date or just have a taste for finer dining

Tags: Good for a Date, Good for Anniversaries, Romantic, Notable Wine List, Special Occasion, Handcrafted Cocktails, Creative Cuisine, Fit for Foodies
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (New Mexico)·Dined on January 5, 2018

Went to restaurant bill was about 400 steak way over cooked waitress bad attitude my wife's real tough wife's second steak way undercooked. Mushrooms terrible no credit on bill . BACK TO MASTROS .

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food1
ambience2
service1
value1

 
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on January 5, 2018

It was probably better than most Spanish restaurants. I would need to go back and have the meat. We had the paella and it was very good. I would recommend it.

Tags: Good for Groups, Business Meals, Good for Birthdays
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience3
service3
value3

 
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on January 4, 2018

Finally an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant. Very, very good.

Tags: Authentic, Casual
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on January 3, 2018

Great tapas selection - smoked chicken cannelloni was amazing.

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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (Orange County)·Dined on January 1, 2018

It was a busy night (NYE) but service was really slow. Took forever to have order taken, cocktails came out about 30 min after we got there and overall felt forgotten. Food was really good and that keeps us wanting to give it another try.

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food5
ambience4
service3
value4

vip
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on December 30, 2017

I had been waiting to try this place because I’m a fan of the chef. Hostess, atmosphere and table were all great! Our server unfortunately was terrible! She wasn’t friendly, didn’t talk about the menu and wanted us to make quick decisions and get out. So many of the food items were great but we couldn’t enjoy because service was so bad. The menu is large and some things a bit unusual so would have been nice to have a fun knowledgeable server to guide us and not make us feel like we were just being a bother.

Tags: Tapas, Vibrant Bar Scene, Casual
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience5
service2
value4

 
·Dined on December 29, 2017

Great selection of tapas, all very tasty, and hip and trendy location.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
·Dined on December 27, 2017

We were celebrating an anniversary and a birthday and we didn’t get a special dessert

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food3
ambience3
service4
value3

vip
 (New York Area)·Dined on December 24, 2017

Outdoor patio overlooking Christmas tree, very fun night!

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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
·Dined on December 21, 2017

This restaurant has just one thing going for it: a location within walking distance to the Performing Arts Center. We chose this restaurant based on location, as well a wanting to try something different. The staff was very accommodating; pleasant, friendly, and informative. The food, however, couldn't match the expertise of the staff. We tried several tapas, each with disappointing results. I realize the concept of tapas is to have small tastes, but these tastes must be, well, good. These were just mediocre. The main dish we ordered, a paella, was again, just ordinary. Nothing here to justify the high cost of dining at this particular restaurant. Next time, we'll probably just eat elsewhere and drive to the theatre after dinner.

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food1
ambience3
service5
value1

 
 (Orange County)·Dined on December 19, 2017

Service was slow during lunch. Other tables received meals first and ordered long after us. We enjoyed our visit but it was extended due to the delay in food being served,

Tags: Fun, Vibrant Bar Scene, Great for Lunch, Hot Spot, Sunday Lunch, Business Meals, Good for Anniversaries, Pre/post Theatre, Creative Cuisine, Bar Seating, Handcrafted Cocktails, Comfort Food, Good for a Date, Worth the Drive, Romantic, Tapas, Authentic, Great for Outdoor Dining, Special Occasion, Good for Birthdays
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food5
ambience5
service3
value3

 
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on December 18, 2017

This is one of the best Spanish restaurants I have been to, authentic Tapas, great cocktails, and nice ambiance. Near the Performing Arts Center, South Coast Plaza, etc. If you like Tapas, you should definitely try this place. I will be coming back.

Tags: Handcrafted Cocktails, Romantic, Good for a Date, Pre/post Theatre, Good for Birthdays, Authentic, Tapas
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 17, 2017

Awesome service! Great tasting food- flavorful; the kind I prefer! A little pricey but I think it’s worth it!

Tags: Tapas, Special Occasion
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

vip
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on December 15, 2017

As for all of the Vaca Group establishments the food and service are impeccable.We enjoyed our Tapas,the Mixta Paella was amazing so much flavor not enough adjectives to describe this dish.Oh let us not forget the Berry drink I enjoyed wish I could remember the name of it lol.Its new on the menu.The service and food suggestions provided by Janice always spot on suffice to say a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience.

Tags: Happy Hour, Business Meals, Fit for Foodies, Bar Seating, Creative Cuisine, Tasting Menu
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food5
ambience3
service5
value5

 
 (Key West)·Dined on December 13, 2017

Had a bad night at this Spanish tapas place. To start the server was unknowledgeable when asked about the wines. For a Spanish restaurant there was only 1 Albarino on the list. Should be at least half a dozen. It was also $65. The red wine list is extensive but there are only 5/6 reds by the glass out of 100's. The server was also unattentive. Long waits to have the wine topped up. After ordering the main courses 1 lamb and 1 fish we proceeded to wait 35 minutes. When the lamb arrived it was overcooked and tough. Supposed to be medium rare. The fish was good. Having asked to take it back and having a heated discussion with the manager he suggested he would get my bill and deduct the lamb. Great, dinner ruined while my wife ate her entree by herself. When asked what they would do to remedy the poor experience he replied nothing more than a credit for the lamb dish. Eventually he asked how he could make us happy. 10 minutes of argument had just taken place. We paid the bill as was presented and left. I was told they do 5 million dollars a year so they had happy customers. They just don't care. Not going back ever and not recommended. Too big to fail?

Tags: Fun
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food4
ambience3
service2
value2

vip
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on December 13, 2017

Sadly, our anniversary celebration proved not to live up to our expectations or the reviews we have read.
Service at our table was very slow and spotty. Our tapas were slow arrive. Other tables who placed orders after us for the same dishes received their orders before us.
The paella we ordered was very bland. We twice requested salt from our server and he said he would bring it. The salt never arrived.
It is unlikely that we would dine at or recommend this restaurant.

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food3
ambience3
service2
value5

 
 (Orange County)·Dined on December 13, 2017

I often dine at Vaca with friends prior to theater and symphony performances. We love the festive vibe, good service, and tasty tapas. The paella vegetale is delicious as a main with assorted sides. Bravo!

Tags: Creative Cuisine, Tasting Menu, Pre/post Theatre
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Orange County)·Dined on December 11, 2017

This was a very forgettable meal. There was nothing that was special or interesting with the food and service was minimal. I would not recommend this as Pueblo is a much better local OC option for Spanish cuisine.

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food2
ambience2
service1
value1

 
·Dined on December 9, 2017

12/8/2017 The manager/owner was very accommodating and did try to make up for the shortcomings of the night. I can only review my night and in defense of the establishment it could have just been an off night. Reservations at 8:30pm finally seated about 9:30. Manager did find us seating at the bar and comped 2 delicious tapas(ALBONDIGAS & CANELON DE POLLO AHUMADO) ended up being the best thing we ate that night. It was a special night (anniversary) so we decided to splurge and try the Kobe, it's hard to critique since it was our first time ordering. But I would not recommend, maybe it is just our inexperience with the product but we ordered medium rare and it was served well. When paying $22 per ounce you don't expect it to be served overcooked, but I its not my style to send back a $100+ steak that took over 40 mins to arrive. It was like eating pure fat, again probably our inexperience of what we expected.I actually had to spit it out, my husband couldn't stomach to finish it. I ordered the seafood paella, good, nothing spectacular. Waiter took our order and never saw him again till the food finally arrived 40mins later. The manager also insisted on giving us 2 free desserts, which was very kind. Peach sorbet was good, too sweet for my taste. The chocolate ice cream was over churned and had the texture of butter. We did not complain or voice our disappointment, it would not have changed the outcome. We were very appreciative of the mangers attentivness to the situation, he did try. All in all I would not return, you don't want to spend $200+ on a dinner you are disappointed with.

I do recommend ordering the Tapas...they were amazing!

Tags: Vibrant Bar Scene, Tapas, Hot Spot
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food3
ambience4
service2
value2

vip
 (San Francisco)·Dined on December 9, 2017

I came for the beef, and was stunned by the Tapas. The deviled eggs are a must do. Creamy, soft, nuggets of heaven, should be their name. I think they call them Huevos Rellenos. Heaven however you spell it.

The octopus (pulpo a la gallega) was divine. The Pork Belly (Panza something) was a delightfully prepared side of pork bellly, more meat than fat, cooked beautifully and presented on a lovely bed of pureed winter squash. Droool

Oh man, there were other tapas, and they were all fantastic, and we would come back in heart beat just for those. If we had walked away at this point, it would have been a solid win. But the Main Course was yet to come, and while we weren't exactly waiting, still well worth the wait.

I chose (yes, the waiter and I went up to the window where he gave me the tour of slabs o beef) the 2.4lb, marvelously marbled hunk of rib steak with bone. It was a work of art in the raw. But 45 minutes after choosing this beauty, it came to the table, with a lovely side of asparagus we had ordered to accompany it, cooked to perfection (medium rare, and spot on) and sliced into manageable pieces for us to share.

All I can say now is WOW. Perfect texture, marevlous flavor (I love grass fed beef, and love rib steaks). and rubbed with just the right amount of salt and pepper. Beef perfection!

So yeah, come and enjoy the tapas. But stay for that beef. Its life altering. This is what beef is suposed to look and taste like, cooked as beef should be cooked, over wood, seared and charred to just shy of burned, but not.

Thank you Vaca, for living up to and surpassing the hype!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Gluten Free Options, Good for a Date, Great for Outdoor Dining, Disabled Access
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food5
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on December 8, 2017

We love Vaca, fun drinks, amazing food, just an all around different dining experience. Don't miss the dry aged ribeye, which is grilled over an open flame, and is simply delicious

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food5
ambience5
service4

vip
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on December 8, 2017

Good pre-Segerstrom show dinner. Lots of amazing tapas as well as delicious paella but a little pricey and tables crammed right up next to each other. Tapas came out quickly, perhaps too quickly, and they were accommodating given our need to bust over to Segerstrom for our show. Yummy and excellent service - I even briefly considered eating off a neighbor's plate to get a taste of their food. I mean, it was totally within reach.

Tags: Handcrafted Cocktails, Bar Seating, Pre/post Theatre, Vibrant Bar Scene
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food4
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (Orange County)·Dined on December 1, 2017

Phenomenal

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food5
ambience4
service4
value5

 
 (Orange County)·Dined on December 1, 2017

Very good ambience and food. Server helped us out figuring the vegetarian options. I would definitely recommend this place for special occasion.

Tags: Good Vegetarian Options, Special Occasion, Fit for Foodies, Romantic, Tapas, Good for Anniversaries
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food4
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (Central Coast)·Dined on November 30, 2017

Wonderful evening with great food! Only slight miss was the lamb meatballs - texture seemed a little off. Expensive but a great spot for a special evening. Bonus was a Chef Santana sighting. :)

Tags: Good for a Date, Special Occasion, People Watching, Authentic, Fit for Foodies, Tapas, Fun, Pre/post Theatre, Hot Spot
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service5
value3

 
 (Houston)·Dined on November 27, 2017

Absolutely authentic and delicious Spanish cuisine in nice upscale yet informal setting. A real gem.

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food5
ambience5
service5

 
 (Seattle)·Dined on November 27, 2017

Had read great things about Vaca, but it didn't live up to expectations. Not particularly friendly. They were really slow to bring our drinks - we didn't get them until after our appetizers, which is really annoying. They also only brought 2 of the 3 sides that we ordered so had to ask them to cancel that last one. Waiter didn't really seem to care that much. Also food and drink were nothing special. Paella was super salty but otherwise bland - couldn't taste the (expensive) saffron at all. Also, none of the crisp bottom you'd expect with good paella. Couldn't believe this place came out no. 2 in OC. We had a much better meal the night before at no 20 on the list.

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food2
ambience2
service2
value1

 
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on November 26, 2017

We enjoyed this place. Some really fun dishes, we will be back.

Tags: Romantic, Fit for Foodies
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food3
ambience4
service5
value3

vip
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on November 25, 2017

Food was very good and lots of different options. A little noisy even though it was not all that packed when we got there!

Tags: Fun
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food4
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (Orange County)·Dined on November 25, 2017

The tapas were amazing. We had four different ones. We loved the mussels but they were all amazing. The paella was also outstanding as was the Vaca Tonic. Service was excellent, energy level was high, ambience and decor and design were excellent. Perfect spot for OCPAC or SCR pre-performance dinner.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (Orange County)·Dined on November 24, 2017

Favorite restaurant hands down!!! Everything I’ve ever gotten here has been amazing. Service spot on every time. Great wine list and creative cocktails - I recommend the VACA-tonic it’s delicious!! Don’t let this one slip by. Must must go!!

Tags: Fun, Vibrant Bar Scene, Spicy, Notable Wine List, Happy Hour, Local Ingredients, Tasting Menu, Business Meals, Seasonal, Creative Cuisine, Great for Outdoor Dining, Tapas, Good for Anniversaries, Bar Seating, Worth the Drive, Fit for Foodies, Authentic, Handcrafted Cocktails, Special Occasion, Pre/post Theatre
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Orange County)·Dined on November 22, 2017

Fabulous tapas, paella and beef. Superb restaurant.

Tags: Worth the Drive, Fit for Foodies, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

vip
 (Denver)·Dined on November 21, 2017

The waiter tried to screw us and gave us the most expensive glass of champagne they had

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food4
ambience5
service1
value3

 
 (Philadelphia)·Dined on November 20, 2017

Huge variety of food. Excellent wine. We loved all the interesting tapas dishes and want to go back to try more. You should definitely go with 4 or more people so you can try lots of dishes.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Tapas, Pre/post Theatre
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience3
service3
value3

vip
 (Los Angeles)·Dined on November 19, 2017

Very good foie excellent

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food4
ambience4
service3
value3

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