This Hole-in-the-Wall County

Orange Countys 74 Greatest Holes-in-the-Wall

50 Q's Tortas is unique because it's one of the few restaurants in la naranja exclusively devoted to the torta-making trade. And the local landmark, having been there for nearly a quarter-century, does not disappoint, turning out juicy monstrosities bloated with meat and cabbage that are only slightly smaller than the King James Bible. 220 N. Bradford Ave., Placentia, (714) 993-3270.

51 They don't make places like Niko's Café & Restaurant anymore, and maybe that's a good thing—too many portraits of John Wayne in various states of determination and drunkenness, for one. But Niko's mid-1950s design instincts and culinary emphasis on country make it a must for anyone with a soft spot in his gut for Norm's-style grandeur, but with larger, cheaper, tastier portions and a smidgen less grease. Oh, and the Wagon Wheel Pancakes are 14 inches in diameter. 1240 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 879-9858.

52 Filipino Fast Food Expresshas restored the art of fast food to its original intention: serving grub as quickly and tasty as possible. Choose from more than 20 different entrées such as adobo and lechon, but all are so delicious it's really a matter of deciding which one you want spilling over the Styrofoam plate it's served on. 4544 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 739-4479.

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

53 Swedish stoicism confronts American capitalism in the Lingonberry Café, the food court buried within the IKEA apocalypse in Costa Mesa. The $5.95 manager's special is a smorgasbord direct from Stockholm—meatballs, gravy, red potatoes, lingonberry jam, your choice of soup or salad, roll or crisp bread, and a fountain drink (mandatory choice: lingonberry juice)—as efficiently pleasing as a Volvo. 1475 South Coast Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 444-4532.

54 They flip 15 different whoppers at the Yellow Basket, a burger place that dates to the time when Santa Ana had white people living south of 17th Street. Now, it's mostly Latino high schoolers from Century and Saddleback who order a triple cheeseburger that could out-$6-burger Carl's any day at only $4.60. 2860 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 545-8219;

55 Have a friend who isn't a brave eater yet? Then introduce them to the wonders of Cha Thai, which also keeps things adventurous enough for hardened Thai veterans. The yellow-curry selection at Cha Thai is optimal for those who sport the same color on their bellies, so be brave and step up a spice level to the red curry. Its marvelous mixture of bamboo shoots, bell peppers and coconut milk will give you the sensation of having had sex for two hours in a sauna. 1520 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 978-3905.

56 There are pies meant for the rich, pies meant for nourishment, and pies meant for throwing. Then there's the Cornish pasty wrapped at the Pasty Kitchen,a dish riddled with mystery meat and wrapped in a tasty enigma. It's a turnover filled with what is described as "paste"—piles of meat, vegetables and whatever else is lying around that's chopped together and folded into a delicately sublime crust dating back to the Cornish miners who gave their life to the Crown so that Queen Victoria could grow obese. 3641 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 431-9747;

57 Jugos Acapulco makes tacos, tortas, even enchiladas. But the jugos (fruit juices) and licuados (fruit shakes) here are so filling and nourishing that to order an actual entrée would be pure gluttony. The 19 different jugos span every one of nature's candies, from such standards as horchata, tamarind and grapefruit to more obscure choices such as pulpy guanávana, sour alfalfa and beet juice. Licuado options are similarly varied but come blended with a couple of egg yolks along with whole milk and a Ross Shelf of ice. When your licuado is ready, the Jugos Acapulco folks place the blender on your table; it's your call to either drink the frothy, frosty delight straight from the blender or pour it into a Styrofoam cup. 307 E. First St., Santa Ana, (714) 836-1965.

58 We once had a date with a rather pretty lady over the butter-pecan ice cream at Hans' Homemade Ice Cream. She was rather nice but just too obstinate for my taste. My tongue still licks strong and long at this ice cream parlor, however, where Hans Biermann carries some 55 delectable flavors. 3640 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 979-8815.

59 Most every county hot-dog cart advertises Chicago dogs, but Chicago Harv's is among the few places that does it befitting the South Side. They ship in bulky Vienna sausages directly from the Windy City, stuff 'em into a poppy-speckled bun next to dill-pickle slivers, and squirt the mess with stinky-but-super quarts of relish and mustard. 410 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-0491.

60 Sholeh zard—a rice pudding brilliantly yellow and so peppery it'll leave you gasping—is but one of the side dishes at Assal Pastry, a chic bakery in Irvine's Little Tehran enclave. But the primary attraction here is cookies: dozens of just-baked trays that rely on different types of flour and infinite pistachio presentations rather than sugar for their sweetness. Purchase a pound of any cookie for a cheap $6. 14130 Culver Dr., Ste. H-1, Irvine, (949) 733-3262.

61 The fish 'n' chips stuffed into brown bags at Londondale Fish 'n' Chips hold their own against what they hawk across the pond. The Chinese lady who owns this most British of establishments dunks triangular slabs of cod as large as a medium-sized pizza slice into a puddle of batter and fries it into crunchy, dun-colored skin that doesn't overwhelm the flaky cod. The chips, once finger-thick, are now a bit too thin for my liking but remain as rubbery, brown and greasy as a true U.K. fry. 1780 S. Euclid St., Anaheim, (714) 776-0211.

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