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GUSTAVOS GRUB GUIDE

This week in the coast

* * *

SAN CLEMENTE

BEACHFIRE
Beachfire is what a neighborhood restaurant should be—a mini-gallery featuring hometown artists (appreciate the colorful boats of Chico Dias), goofy theme nights from MondayNightFootballto Palate and Palette Thursdays, live bands, kid's specials and booze. Lots of booze. But it's the seafood that ultimately impresses the most—particularly the macadamia-nut-crusted mahi. 204Ave.delMar,Ste.D,(949)366-3232;WWW.BEACHFIRE.COM. $$

IVALEE'S
So authentically Cajun they hand out beads to patrons, Iva Lee's is a haute cuisine take on the Big Easy's grime. Crawfish cakes are topped with a dollop of saffron aioli here, and the pan-fried pork chops are thick and juicy, and not overcooked. The chicory coffee crème brulee is so tasty, it's like eating crack pudding. 555N.ElCaminoReal,(949)361-2855.$$$

SURFIN'CHICKEN
José "El Cuatro" Martínez's method of preparing chicken is as miraculous as Mass. He soaks his hens in lemon butter before slapping them onto the open-fire grill. He then shakes tremendous amounts of chile powder onto the meat and grills them until crisp, the lemon and powder fusing onto the chicken and seeping through the tender meat to the bone. The result is sublime: soft, slightly smoky, and exuding a sour/spicy crackle that's nearly radioactive. 71CalleDeIndustrias,(949)498-6603.$

ViewourcompletediningguideatWWW.OCWEEKLY.COM/FOOD.

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