By Matt Coker
By R. Scott Moxley
By Charles Lam
By Nick Schou
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
31. There are no frills at Frank's Philadelphia when it comes to their Philly cheesesteak: humongous loaf (even the small is ginormous), beef bits chopped into portions so teensy you can absorb them through your fingertips; grilled peppercinnis that remain juicy and fleshy even after meeting cast iron, and the melted mozzarella pours into your innards like milk. 2244 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa, (949) 722-8725.
32. Spend 24 hours at the hipster Norm's, Harbor House Café, and observe OC in its proletarian glory: punks returning from a show at Alex's or Que Sera up PCH for an obnoxious pre-breakfast. Beach bums scarfing one of its 31 omelets before an all-night Sunset Beach kegger. Old-timers ordering the same New York steak they've favored for the past half-century. And everyone spreading multiple jellies on their toast. 16341 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-5404.
33. In a region still dotted with the mom-and-pop burger dives of yore, Paul's Place is our Mel's, a mini-chain with locations in Buena Park, Fullerton and Anaheim that don't look a day older than 50. Burgers are charred, massive and come sans condiments, the better for you to squirt to your delight. And in a nod to the changing times, there is also a salsa bar to douse their quite-big, quite-tasty burritos and gyros. 1040 N. Magnolia Ave., Anaheim, (714) 761-4351; 7012 Orangethorpe Ave., Buena Park, (714) 522-5050; 506 S. Euclid Ave., Fullerton, (714) 870-5995.
34. The flagship eatery of the St. Regis Resort Monarch Beach, Aqua remains thespot for Orange County's nouveau rich with its moneyed atmosphere and fusion-y feasts. But if you're like me, you can only afford to eat the truffle popcorn—and even that does an Enron on our wallets at $12 per batch. 1 Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, (949) 234-3318.
35. Across the street from Fullerton College, next door to the used-book store where smart Hornets trade in their textbooks, Chicago Harv's is among the few Orange County places that does Chicago dogs befitting the South Side. They ship in turgid 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 that'll leave lips a yellow-green color as vibrant as Notre Dame's every-10-years green football uniform. 410 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-0491.
36. The plate lunch is the current rage amongst Southern California's hipsterati—two scoops of white rice, a scoop of mac salad and some ungodly cholesterol bomb. Eat it healthier at Aloha Chicken with its eponymous chicken soy-grilled to a salty climax or not with the loco moco, an ungodly fatty duo of beef patties fused together with cloggy gravy. 10488 Valley View Ave., Buena Park, (714) 826-6672.
37. Two spots for the Filling Station: one bustling locale built from the skeleton of a former gas station on the outskirts of Old Towne Orange, another occupying prime real estate on the city-subsidized ghost town that is downtown Anaheim. Both feature straightforward diner food prettied up—only enough to include fresh ingredients in the burgers, omelets and clove-heavy apple pies. Don't believe the Chowhound.com folks—a good apple pie is a clove-heavy apple pie. 195 W. Center St., Anaheim, (714) 535-2800; 201 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 289-9714; www.fillingstationcafe.com.
38. Anita's New Mexico-Style Food, a nondescript Fullerton mock-adobe, is one of the few Southern California restaurants emphasizing true New Mexico dietary traditions: thundering pozole bowls and meticulously stuffed chile rellenos that strike the model balance between earthy cheese and mild spice. You can find those entrées at Mexican restaurants, though, so eat American with the sopapilla: Indian fry bread gussied up with honey, a dry sweetness foreign to your chocolate-spoiled mouth but one fantastic enough to linger there for good. 600 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 525-0977.
39. Both restaurant and market and far from the sea, the Original Fish Co. is where you can chomp through swordfish as a sandwich, on a skewer, as a fillet, mesquite-smoked or combined with a hunk of beef. Its other seafood platters are rightfully popular, but don't forget their accompanying sourdough rolls: slightly bitter, around the size of an enlarged orange and brilliant. 11061 Los Alamitos Blvd., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-4553; www.originalfishcompany.com.
40. Mustard's is a haunt for all artifacts Chi-Town: yellowed Tribune front-page celebrating da Bears' Super Bowl XX victory; a picture of former mayor/god Richard Daley; and the bold yellow slogan for Vienna Beef, the brand with which Mustard's makes its bulky, peppery Chicago dog, complete with tooth-blackening poppy-seed bun, leprechaun-green relish, gritty celery salt and a giant dill pickle. Great Italian roast beef as well, with as many folds as a Cubs pennant run. 3630 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 598-1662.
41. Black & Blue is the filet mignon and sirloin special at Stubrik's Steak House: an epic bulk of beef gorged with rank blue cheese, then slathered with a blue cheese/burgundy sauce that could be the bourgie A-1 sauce. If you're a straight beef kinda guy, stick to the porterhouse, 24 ounces of peppercorn-sauce-laden bowel cleaning. 118 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-1290; 28241 Marguerite Pkwy., Mission Viejo, (949) 218-0790; www.stubriks.com.
42. Though other county Philly cheesesteak houses cram bigger subs, Philly's Famous Cheese Steak tops them all in the crucial matter of cheese. It overwhelms your senses like a good cheese should, like the best quesadillas: sharp, comforting, gooey. Despite the dairy onslaught, the beef's savor doesn't wilt, remaining juicy like an elegant shawerma. And Philly's Famous also keeps Tastykake pastries, as much a Brotherly Love institution as the Liberty Bell or choke-prone Eagles playoff runs. 648 E. First St., Tustin, (714) 505-6067.