This Hole-in-the-Wall County

Orange Countys 74 Greatest Holes-in-the-Wall

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.

62 What Higher Power deemed it apt for the Philly cheesesteak to originate from Philadelphia? At Frank's Philadelphia, you can experience how the fave is so reflective of the City of Brotherly Love—bulky as Mike Schmidt's bat, the juicy meat-and-cheese goo eventually settling into your stomach with the subtlety of a Chuck Bednarik tackle and brilliant as an Iverson crossover dribble. 2244 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa, (949) 722-8725.

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

63 Sipping the salty, black-bean porridge atol blanco at Santa Ana's Tikal Tienda y Restaurante is the liquid equivalent of a backpacking trek through Guatemala: earthy, steamy, a bit overwhelming at times but eventually addicting. This boutique also stocks jars of packaged vegetables; children's songbooks; and a curious orange-colored empanada baked with almond flour and injected with custard, a remnant of Chinese migration to Guatemala during the late 1800s. 1111 S. Main St., Santa Ana. (714) 973-8547.

64 Someone should check out the claim by Nick Zampino over at Nick's Deli that his family brought into this world that most-favored of Mexican breakfasts: the breakfast burrito. Don't look at me—I'm too tied up shoving his boast into my mouth. And as each ingredient settles into my taste buds—wonderfully congealed egg, slightly salty chorizo, snappy bacon and the heartiest potatoes outside the Andes—I also buy Nick's version of culinary history. 223 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 598-5072.

65 Pina's Bistro is the type of Italian joint you envision in a mountainside village, with women squishing out Pina's intoxicating wines à la I Love Lucy, where namesake donna Pina Ercolamento squeezes the teat of the cow whose milk she will use to prepare a veggie-intensive Neapolitan-style pizza. The baked-that-day table bread Pina provides, when dipped in a pool of olive oil, will be the best thing you can do to your senses this month. 640 W. First St., Tustin, (714) 730-5442.

66 Gotta love a place like the Chicken Box that sells boysenberry punch—a supertart, purple elixir probably mixed nowadays only in one other concern, Knott's Berry Farm, and then probably only as a tourist curio. But the Chicken Box is the only reason to visit La Habra outside of Gordo Maloney's and maybe that strip club the City Council been trying to ban for about a decade. Consider the incarnations of its star, the humble chicken: broasted until it drips grease or accompanied by soft grains of rice in a soup. 330 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 691-1701.

67 At the Moscow Deli, produce is the primary reason the doorbell jingles throughout the day—Armenian rose-petal preserves, buttery Slovenian cheese, bubbly Ukrainian apple soda and a funky Georgian caviar. Cool matryoshka dolls, too! 3015 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 546-3354.

68 There's but one Costa Rican restaurant in California, maybe even the entire United States, and it's in Anaheim at the appropriately titled Costa Rica Restaurant. While this dimly lit nightclub specializes mostly in different versions of the national dish gallo pinto (black beans cooked with rice and eggs), stick to the weighty wonder that is the tamal tico. Wrapped in a canopy-sized banana leaf, this Costa Rican staple requires hiking boots to maneuver through its myriad flavors. Start at the pointy sweet end, studded with raisins and dates, then hack through the wet masa toward pork, red peppers, peas and carrots; a sprightly olive demarcates the sweet/spicy divide. 2500 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 527-2010.

69 Most of the people at Graffitea are college students from the equidistant Orange Coast College, Santa Ana College and UC Irvine campuses desperate for nightlife, attracted to Graffitea by its 2 a.m. last call and sleep-staving espressos. Teas are liquid defibrillators; the smoothies and snow bubble drinks are remarkably flavorful, from nutty almond and zesty lychee to hearty mango and strawberry. 3030 S. Bristol, Costa Mesa, (714) 436-5798.

70 Señor Big Ed in Cypress is the best pedacitoof Puerto Rico around; validate it yourself with the alcapurria, a banana fritter crammed with minty ground beef that immediately boogaloos across your senses. 5490 Lincoln Ave., Cypress, (714) 821-1290.

71 Dunarea, one of two Romanian restaurants in Southern California, serves delicious sarmales: cabbage rolled up to contain peppered, minced beef and carrots, exhibiting hints of Mediterranean, Slavic and Middle Eastern conquests. 821 N. Euclid Ave., Anaheim, (714) 772-7233.

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