This Hole-in-the-Wall County

Orange Countys 74 Greatest Holes-in-the-Wall

17 Gina's Pizzais one of the few redeeming values of the wretched Balboa Fun Zone, a family-run Peninsula institution where the thin-crust New York-style pizza doesn't contain a lot of sauce or bread—just like it's supposed to be—and the slices are as big as a page of the phone book. 309 Palm, Newport Beach, (949) 673-8516.

18 "Irie" means "cool" in Rastafarian lingo and is also the name of Orange County's supreme—okay, only—Jamaican restaurant, a tidy Trenchtown in Cypress. Bob Marley hovers over everything at Irie—portraits of him peer from seemingly every corner—but then appears culinary ganga: tangy oxtails, pungent ackee and salt fish, and a jerk chicken that'll do to your sweat glands what Jimmy Cliff did to his enemies in The Harder They Come. 9062 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 484-0661.

19 Pupusas are the standard of every Salvadoran restaurant, those sturdy masa-based griddle cakes gorged with salty cheese and other native pleasures that Salvadorans consume from cradle to deathbed. But the pupusa preparation at Pupusería San Sivar reaches toward the celestial—not greasy, slightly toasted, perfect. 1940 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-2952.

Location Info


The Pasty Kitchen

3641 Katella Ave.
Rossmoor, CA 90720

Category: Restaurant > English

Region: Los Alamitos

Yellow Basket Restaurant

1430 E. Edinger Ave.
Santa Ana, CA 92705-4801

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Santa Ana

Crystal Cove Shake Shack

7703 N. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Laguna Beach

Nuoc Mia Vien Tay

14370 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Grocery

Region: Garden Grove

Burrell's Bar-B-Que

305 N. Hesperia
Santa Ana, CA 92703

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Santa Ana

La Palma Chicken Pie Shop

928 N. Euclid St.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

Banh Mi Cho Cu Bakery

14520 Magnolia St., Ste. B
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Sandwiches

Region: Westminster

20 Sisig Grill is perhaps the only county Filipino restaurant specializing in the dishes from the province of Pampango, a cuisine so renowned that no less an authority than the Philippines Department of Tourism declares it "the culinary center of the Philippines." On Tuesday, order a couple of glistening longsilog (greasy-good sausages that taste like a more elegant chorizo) along with the chicken curry and ginataang kalabasa na sitaw, and you have a three-item combo for about five bucks. They also scoop out a prototypical halo-halo: a harvest of sweet beans, figs, mango, pineapple and coconut shavings; jelly cubes; condensed milk; crushed ice; and a scoop of ube (purple yam) ice cream. Topping all of this is an epic portion of flan. 2622 W. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 761-2258.

21 From the bicultural background of namesake owner Masanori Oshiri—born in Japan, raised in Peru, speaker of a sonorous Spanish that would make Cervantes proud—comes Nory's, the county's truest Peruvian eatery. Oshiri presents an Andes of variety reflecting Peru's multicultural reality, with fried rice snuggling comfortably amongst spaghetti and a weird Velveeta-covered potato slab called papas à la huancaina that's served chilled. And his towering rendition of ceviche—replete with corn kernels, midget octopuses and an entire sweet potato—is Machu Picchu on a plate but without the stones or UFO vibe. 933 1/2 S. Euclid, Anaheim, (714) 774-9115; also 6959-63 Cerritos Ave., Stanton, (714) 761-3332.

22 In the battle for Hindustani dollars, Laxmi Sweets and Spicebeats its fellow Tustin Indian bazaar India Sweets and Spices by a couple of gulab jamuns. The produce—everything from Bollywood CDs to filmed versions of the Bhagavad-Gita to instant chutney—is fine, but Laxmi also lays out many Indian snack foods. Get the thali, a platter of two vegetables, a yogurt dish and fresh naan. And get the Indian spinach and eggplant for your two vegetables. And if you don't want the buffet, their dosas are killer. 638 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 832-4671.

23 The county's sole Brazilian emporium, Amazon Churrascaria, is an all-you-can-devour slaughter of every species and cut: rubbery chicken hearts, delectable rabbit, an alligator sirloin salty with seawater, even the Homer Simpson fantasy of bacon encircling turkey sausage. Mmm…burkey. 1445 S. Lemon St., Fullerton, (714) 447-1200.

24 Imagine a Domino's in Beirut, and you have Al-Sanabel Bakery, which tosses up the pizza-esque Lebanese snack sphiha in a stool-sporting parcel that looks like a Brooklyn counter, circa 1950. Flat, circular, split into four parts and covered with Lebanese-favored toppings such as labneh (a mild cream cheese) and the garlic-and-oregano-heavy condiment zaatar, Al-Sanabel's sphihas are light and enjoyable, like breezes filtered through cedars, but not as prickly. 816 S. Brookhurst Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 635-4353.

25 This county grew fat on the hamburger microwaved by chains such as Anaheim-bred Carl's Jr. and McDonald's. In a way, then, thank Atkins that Gordo Mellony's operates but one location in the Liechtenstein of Orange County, La Habra. Gordo—which, by the way means fat in Spanish…just saying—pats together normal burgers, cheeseburgers, chili cheeseburgers and bacon cheeseburgers. But your digestive system will never secrete properly again after ordering the King Kong Suicide: more tower than comestible, with three kinds of cheese and four patties rising 12 gluttonous inches, held vertically aloft by a skewer. 430 W. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 694-4456.

26 You're probably the second non-African to visit Merhaba after me, so the female owner will be extra attentive and repeatedly ask if you enjoy her East African recipes. You will. East African cuisine sticks mostly to stews: chewy cubes of tibisy beef; lamb ribs battling with furious peppers for control of your tongue; the famous Ethiopian doro wat, spicy chicken cooked in butter, hot like the pits of hell. The vegetarians in your party will content themselves with the shiro, an Eritrean chickpea mush similar to hummus. And everyone should imbibe the tej, a furtive honey wine that is one of the oldest boozes brewed by man. 2801 W. Ball Rd., Ste. 5, Anaheim, (714) 826-8859;

27 Named after a Michoacán rancho that has sent thousands of its residents to Orange County, Taquería El Granjenalmakes the best tacos in the county. They deviate from taco protocol by using full-sized corn tortillas and piling on chunks of your choice of grilled meat. The salsa is extraordinary, a dark-red lava extract whose burn factor is unknown outside Paricutín. El Granjenal keeps two locations, but visit the original in Costa Mesa, as it has outdoor seating and blasts cheesy sonidero music throughout the eve. 899 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-4964; also 140 S. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 836-9300.

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