Thursday, December 08, 2016

Naugles - Fountain Valley



Have you met Christian Ziebarth? His story is kind of amazing. And it goes like this:

- Boy loves eating at Naugles, a Mexican-American restaurant chain founded by a former Del Taco partner.
- Chain disappears after getting bought by Del Taco; but only after leaving an indelible mark on boy.
- Boy grows up into a man who loves Mexican food.
- Man blogs about Mexican restaurants, including Naugles.
- Man realizes that others love and miss Naugles as much as he does.
- Man hosts Naugles pop-ups and gets rave reviews.
- Man goes to court for the right to use the Naugles trademark.
- Man wins case!
- Man opens Naugles and serves the same food he loved as a boy.
- Now man is the owner of what's about to be a national franchise!

If a Hollywood producer ever gets wind of this underdog story, the elevator pitch might be "David versus Goliath" meets "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" meets "Like Water For Chocolate".



On a personal note, I've known Christian for at least a decade. Christian and I started our food blogs about the same time (back when food blogs were still relevant), and he was *THE* first real human being to reach out beyond the virtual world of comment pages to ask me if we could meet in person.

If I remember correctly, we met at a restaurant in Tustin that doesn't even exist anymore. In the intervening years, Christian and I ate at many other restaurants together and with other bloggers.



Christian, you see--apart from being the entrepreneur, blogger, and all around Renaissance Man--brings people together.

And that's what he did again last night when he invited me and my guest to his restaurant in Fountain Valley along with other food bloggers for a Naugles feast.

We ate burritos filled with ooey-gooey cheese and taco salad in a cup wearing taco shell bunny ears. This is all the Mexican-American fast food classics you're familiar with, but way way better--sourced with quality ingredients and cooked earnestly.

If Del Taco is George Lucas making "The Phantom Menace"; the new Naugles is J.J. Abrams making "The Force Awakens".



Last night, I congratulated Christian on his triumph, but also reminisced about our food blogging days. But here's how much of a dedicated fan of Naugles Christian still is. When I told him I remembered going to Naugles during my own youth in La Habra before it turned into a Del Taco, I was struggling to recount the street corner it was located in. Without hesitation, Christian finished my sentence: "At Beach and Lambert!"

As I was leaving, I shook his hand and told him when I took the above picture: "I don't usually put pictures of people on my blog, but you, Christian, are a star!"

Naugles Corporate Kitchen
18471 Mt. Langley
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
(657) 845-7346
http://nauglestacos.com

THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Royal Hen - Newport Beach

12 Comments:

At 10:27 PM, Blogger ChristianZ said...

Thanks! I've often said that Naugles brings people together.

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Thank you again for the invite, Christian!

 
At 3:57 AM, Anonymous Curt said...

In the early 70s, we used to stop at a place qat the junction of Interstate 8 and Imperial, in El Centro CA. Although it doesn't fit into the "official" history of the chain, I could swear it was called Naugles. I believe it became a Del Taco after that chain took off.

 
At 6:40 PM, Blogger ChristianZ said...

Curt, there was actually a Naugles in El Centro in the early 1970's and it was official. Here's a picture of the trayliner they used: https://flic.kr/p/6XvAxZ.

 
At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Curt said...

Thanks.

I was pretty sure was called Naugles. We used to stop in every time we drove from San Diego to Parker, AZ. Loved the all meat burritos!

 
At 4:13 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Curt,

Thanks for the comment! I was hoping Christian was listening!

Christian,

You truly are the only person who could shepherd the resurrection of Naugles!

 
At 6:56 PM, Blogger CJ said...

We used to stop at the Naugles in El Centro on our way back home from camping in the desert. We would gas up, take the dog out & eat and head up the hill to North San Diego County! I have missed Naugles since then (well actually until 2015 when the test kitchen opened); so thank you Christian for bringing it back and I am thankful that I live close to Fountain Valley.

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger ChristianZ said...

Thanks, CJ!

I've been told (by the guy who ran it) that the El Centro location had authentic Mexican items, such as machaca burritos and taquitos, created the Mexican women who worked there that the other Naugles locations didn't have, and that they were very popular.

 
At 6:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will have to make a pit stop when I'm in town.

nhb

 
At 6:06 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

You definitely have to! This is the start of something big!

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger dumplings said...

I shook Christian's hand yesterday!

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

dumplings,

He's the man isn't he?!

 

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