OCs 97 Best American Restaurants

94. A tour of barbecue traditions within the confines of a gleaming Surf City development, Smokin' Mo's redeems the red states from which it pulls its stuff. Tennessee shines with vinegary, massive, great pork ribs, Louisiana appears with hot links that please like a boat ride through the bayou. Better than that, we love its pig mascot—wide-eyed, holding a massive wooden spoon, grinning at the thought of eating its brethren, the happiest cannibal since that weird gay German guy. 301 Main St., Ste. 107, Huntington Beach, (714) 374-3033; www.mosbbq.com.

95. The two San Clemente Schleppy's are prototypical beach shacks: tiled roof caked with bird crap, a side business in such curios as seahorse wind chimes, host to seagulls and pigeons who warily eye patrons for the first signs of a tumbling scrap. Order Schleppy's burger combo: a small drink that qualifies as a medium nearly anywhere else, snappy fries bursting with earthy potato pride and a flavorful hamburger featuring some of the greatest beef patties grilled since the last Labor Day. 250 Ave. Calafia, San Clemente; 615 Ave. Victoria, San Clemente, (949) 492-8335.

96. Daily Grill is where you can learn to love the Cobb salad, an orchestrated event of chicken, tomatoes, avocado, bacon, blue cheese, scallions, egg, and romaine and iceberg lettuces mixed with a creamy Italian dressing. Also, American comfort food—don't miss the meatloaf—prepared at its highest level. 2636 Dupont Dr., Irvine, (949) 474-2223; 957 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 644-2223; www.dailygrill.com.

97. Watson Drugs and Soda Fountain (featured in the 1996 Tom Hanks clunker That Thing You Do!) is the place to eat so-so omelets, burgers and authentic soda pop the way your grandparents did: in expansive checkered-clothed booths in a building more than a century old—with regulars nearly as ancient. 116 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 633-1050.

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