As much as I want to, I don’t eat these foods every day. And it’s not because I’m on a diet. I eat steak and french fries regularly. I eat way too many hamburgers. I eat more ramen than anyone should, so it’s hard to call any of those things guilty pleasures. They’re just pleasures.
But even with my crazy eating regimen, there are still some foods that I avoid eating too often. Here are 10 delicious guilty pleasures that always make me happy.
1. Bacon at Taco Maria
They serve it only on weekends for brunch, and it’s the number one reason I keep returning to Taco Maria for brunch. The bacon is almost as thick as a steakhouse steak. They serve it with a steak knife, but it’s so tender that you could cut it with your spoon. They braise it overnight in a glaze of Mexican brown sugar. Brunch is actually a prix fixe affair, 3 courses for $39 (and you’ll want to get the pancakes). The bacon is an add-on $7.
3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 714-538-8444, tacomaria.com
2. Hawaiian pizza at Mozza
I used to scoff at the concept of Hawaiian pizza. You know the one I’m talking about, the ugly one with ham, pineapple and jalapeños. But then Pizzeria Mozza reinvented it (they call it pizza alla Benno, named after the chef’s son). High-quality Italian prosciutto stands in for the ham. Fresh pineapples are shaved into paper-thin sheets that practically dissolve into the sauce when baked in the wood-fired oven. The peppers are fresh. I still won’t eat Hawaiian pizza anywhere else. But this one is habit-forming. Cost: $18.
800 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949-945-1126, newportbeach.pizzeriamozza.com
3. Tex Mex queso at El Matador
There’s nothing else in the world quite like the creamy, gooey decadence of Texas-style chile con queso. I confess that there was a period in my life when I ate this stuff at least twice a week. Now it’s just an occasional indulgence — and best enjoyed with a margarita. Cost: $6.95.
1768 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, 949-645-0324, elmatadorcostamesa.com
4. Cinnamon roll at Restaurant Marin
I’ve written a lot about the beautiful layer cakes at Marin. But truth be told my favorite guilty pleasure at this elegant little diner is the cinnamon roll. They take their wonderful brioche dough and roll it into a bun with loads of cinnamon and bake it in the wood-fired oven, then glaze it with housemade caramel. Cost: $9.
3321 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 949-402-3974, restaurantmarin.com