Inspired by the diverse regions of Spain, award-winning Chef Amar Santana, along with his partner Ahmed Labbate and investors Rich Cadarette and Paul Roy, create an atmosphere where the food and drink transport you to Spain. At Vaca dishes are tapas and family style, meant to share over great conversation, atmosphere and with an amazing crafted drink or aromatic wine in hand!
Chef Amar Santana, seen on Bravo TV as Top Chef Finalist Season 13, is one of Orange County’s hottest rising stars who is undeniably transforming the OC culinary scene into a food destination. His impressive career crescendo in 2012 occurred at the age of 30, when he opened his widely successful flagship restaurant, Broadway By Amar Santana in Laguna Beach. In 2001 Santana began an externship at Aureole under the mentorship of Chef Gerry Hayden, for which he returned upon CIA graduation as a full time cook. Within a year he became the youngest person to be named Sous Chef in one of New York’s busiest and most demanding kitchens. After honing his skills at Aureole, Santana was tapped to serve on the opening teams for Chef Palmer’s highly acclaimed Charlie Palmer Steak and Fin Fish in Reno, NV proceeded by Charlie Palmer at The Joule in Dallas, TX and at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza. As Executive Chef, Santana earned Charlie Palmer four stars from the Orange County Register and one of Orange County’s Top Ten restaurants by Orange Coast Magazine.
The restaurant’s menu is inspired by the creativity of Chef Amar Santana and his version of authentic Spanish cuisine. Passionate about all things pork, Chef Santana also cultivated and mastered his skills with dried meat and charcuterie. Likely your table will be in the back, allowing you to start your journey by passing by several large glass doors. Beyond the glass you will drool over dried meats, charcuterie and piles of beef rib steaks starting at 2 pounds and up that have been aged over 50+ days (House Specialty) All of their beef is hormone and antibiotic free and grilled over wood fire. First timers must order the seafood paella, full of saffron flavor and loaded with clams, mussels, shrimp and octopus. Not a saffron fan, then order the Fideua, which is toasted noodle paella, with squid ink, calamari, scallions, toasted marcona almonds and ginger lime aioli. Hope there are leftovers as this one is refrigerator shelf worthy. Add some carbs to the table and order crispy potato balls with ground beef, aioli and spicy tomato sauce. Save some calories for the churros con chocolate or Mama Santana flan.
Santana’s globally influenced menu includes unexpected flavor profiles and artful presentations, reflecting his zeal for food and for life. Almost immediately, critical acclaim, accolades and countless rave reviews rolled in. Santana attributes his success as a direct result of ambition, drive, passion, and modestly, extraordinary talent.
Luxe Tip: Current reservations are available on Open Table but coming soon: Two semi-private outdoor patios featuring heated umbrellas and nestled within vibrant green shrubbery will be available for private parties of 30-40 guests.
Facebook: VACA Costa Mesa