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Au Lac Gourmet Vegetarian Restaurant

16563 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, (714) 418-0658

Au Lac specializes in a variety of vegetarian, Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. All are prepared without eggs, wine and MSG. If you're worried about feeling less-than-fulfilled without some meat in your meal, restaurant owner Mai Nguyen assures you, "You can fool your palate into thinking you're eating beef, fish or chicken without getting the bad effects from cholesterol." Convinced yet? Give Au Lac the opportunity to prove its vegetarian philosophy when you come in for lunch or dinner. Takeout specialties are available, and some side orders are only $1 each (weekdays only, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.).

Services: Takeout available. Hours: Tues.-Sun., 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Auto Bistro3100 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 515-9060

The best fast food in Orange County! It's not often you can find gourmet fast food, but this is exactly what you can expect at the Auto Bistro drive-thru, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served seven days a week from a wide ranging menu. Great tasting breakfast meals include: the coffee & scramble combo, the smoothie & bakery combo and, for a pick-me-up, try the quiche & latte combo. For lunch or dinner the bistro burger combo is delicious. On the healthier side the chicken Caesar pita combo is an excellent choice. This drive-thru is unique in its design, almost like a restaurant on stilts, and is an unforgettable experience as the food is dropped down to your car via an elevator!

Services: Drive-thru only. Hours: Mon.-Sun., 7 a.m.-10 p.m. AmEx, Visa and MC accepted. Azteca Restaurant/Crooner's Lounge12911 Historical Main St., Garden Grove, (714) 638-3790

Grease up those pompadours because Crooner's bills itself as Southern California's only "Elvis Lounge," a full bar featuring music and memorabilia from the Rat Pack and the King himself. Weekends feature rockabilly to the nines, Friday nights feature Main Street's Classic Car Show outside, and Saturday nights feature Elvis movies on the TV. You can also re-create Elvis' Fun in Acapulco vibe with some great Mexican food at Azteca restaurant, which offers a menu filled with the owner's original recipes. Try the garlic tacos and garlic salad to set the party off, or ask about the daily special.

Services: Takeout available. Full bar. Open daily, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; lounge open till 1 a.m. or later. All major credit cards accepted. Bayside CenterBayside Dr. at Jamboree Rd., one block south of Pacific Coast Hwy., Newport Beach

Start your day at Java City, which features fresh-baked breads and pastries; gourmet-brewed and whole bean coffee; and sandwiches, soups and salads. For fine Italian cuisine, Sapori Ristorante is sure to satisfy your appetite for lunch or dinner. But if you're pressed for time, Pavilions Place offers pre-packaged salads and a service deli for your convenience.

Birraporetti's3333 Bristol, Ste. 2078, Costa Mesa, (714) 850-9090

A great stop any time, Birraporetti's is located inside South Coast Plaza. There is a huge mahogany island bar where you can people-watch to your heart's content and enjoy a 14-oz. draft beer like Guiness or a black and tan. The bar keeps well-stocked with a grand selection of whiskeys and scotches in the Irish tradition. And don't miss Two-Dollar Twosdays, featuring $2 drinks and $2 off all appetizers after 4 p.m. Monday is swing night with the Don Miller Orchestra, when young and old come jumping and jiving—show up at 6:30 and get a free swing lesson. The restaurant offers eclectic Italian cuisine, so try the delicious classic lasagna or the fresh Atlantic crab. Nothing but fun here!

Services: Takeout and catering available. Full bar. Hours: Mon., 11-1:30 a.m.; Tues.-Wed., 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.-midnight; Fri.-Sat., 11-1 a.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted. Parking available. The Block at Orange

1 City Dr., Ste. 1010, Orange, (714) 769-4001

If you're looking for recreational dining, this is the place. Wolfgang Puck's, Grand Cafe, Left At Albuquerque, Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Alcatraz Brewing Co. and Johnny Rockets are just a few of the 16 eateries. For a snack there's Starbucks Coffee or Ben & Jerry's. All are surrounded by hip shops like Borders Books & Music, Virgin Megastore, Old Navy, Ron Jon Surf Shop (the largest surf shop in CA) and Hilo Hattie, the first Hawiian fashion and accessories store to open on the mainland. For the playful purist check Gameworks, where you can try games of skill, while you munch, at the adventure, sports, sci-fi/terror, racing and prize zones. Dave & Buster's offers virtual games as well, with table shuffleboard, pocket billiards, a "Million Dollar Midway" and a restaurant and bar for adults. Skate in the largest skate park in the world, offering an 80-foot vertical ramp and an indoor street course. Or take in a movie with style at the AMC 30-screen theatre featuring LoveSeat stadium seating

Blue Beet Café

107 21st St., Newport Beach, (949) 675-2338

The venerableness of the restaurant is reason enough to dine at the Blue Beet, not to mention the killer menu, live music every night, and a happening happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. seven days a week. This place is a steak oasis: sample the bacon-wrapped filet mignon or the prime rib, served with a side of homemade garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables or caramelized carrots. Seafood lovers should experience the encrusted halibut topped with pesto, or the fish and chips, made with halibut instead of cod. Dinner specials include a heaping plate of linguine with succulent clams on Monday nights. Wed. nights feature baby back ribs covered in head chef Jorge's superb BBQ sauce. All the portions are large and the Beet also has an extensive martini and wine list.

Services: Takeout available. Full bar. Open daily 11:30-2 a.m. All major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested for large parties. Brooklyn Pizza2278 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-9399
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