A new sit-down Mexican restaurant called Don Orange Tacos opened in Redlands on Friday, June 7, to a crowd of about 40 people.
Owner Karim Benjamin said many of the guests expressed their appreciation for the restaurant’s eclectic and edgy atmosphere.
“One of the most fun comments I get from guests was, ‘I don't feel I'm in Redlands, I feel I'm on vacation,’” Benjamin said.
According to Benjamin, the name Don Orange came from a desire to represent Redlands itself.
“Don Orange was created from the heart of Redlands, the character itself,” Benjamin said.
”Because when you look for Redlands as a history, the Redlands history is all about citrus,”
That Redlands history is embodied in the character of Mr. Orange, or Don Orange, an orange skull with moustache who is painted on the walls of the restaurant.
“Who is Mr. Orange? The character of Redlands,” Benjamin said. “I get this question a lot, like, who is Mr. Orange? Are you Don Orange? And I'm like, no, I'm not Don Orange. But every resident of Redlands could be Don Orange.”
In addition to tacos, Don Orange specializes in tequila and mezcal — but not the typical kind you might find in bars.
“These tequilas and mezcals are not the cheap one that, you're in Tijuana, you take a couple of shots and you wake up like, I don't know who I was yesterday. This is the style that you sip,” Benjamin said.
According to Benjamin, Don Orange is part of the trend of high-end Mexican eateries that serve fine tequila and mezcal.
“That's now what's going on in popular cities like L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, New York. This culture has been going for the last couple of years, and I think it's time now to bring it to our lovely town, Redlands, and let the people of Redlands experience this kind of food and these types of drinks,” he said.
Besides owning the restaurant, Benjamin is an architect. He said that he got the idea for Don Orange while designing similar eateries in other cities.
“I want to make something different here. I want to make it for my city, my town, my kids, my friends,” he said.
Don Orange is at 14 E. State St., Redlands.