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!Ay, Mi Estomago!

Orange Countys 61 best Latino restaurantes

5. Taquería Acapulcoactually specializes in the cuisine of the Mexican port city of Tampico, where carne asada comes topped with sautéed bell peppers and onions. But this is also where a furious, dense mole of banana and chicken as soft as a pillow can be had for about six bucks—and isn't a good mole all we need for the Good Life? 2419 W. Mcfadden Ave., Ste. 108, Santa Ana, (714) 542-9535.

 

3 BEST SOUTH AMERICAN RESTAURANTS

Los Cojita. Photo by John Gilhooley
Los Cojita. Photo by John Gilhooley
Regina's. Photo by John Gilhooley
Regina's. Photo by John Gilhooley

Location Info

Map

Taqueria El Granjenal

899 W. 19th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Costa Mesa

Carnitas Los Reyes

273 S. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92866

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Orange

Pedro's Tacos

550 N. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: San Clemente

Tacos Jalisco

480 N. Tustin St.
Orange, CA 92867

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Orange

Senor Pedro's Tacos

31405 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: San Juan Capistrano

Nory's Restaurant

933 S. Euclid St.
Anaheim, CA 92802

Category: Restaurant > South American

Region: Anaheim

El Pollo Fino

723 N. Anaheim Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92805

Category: Restaurant > Hot Chicken

Region: Anaheim

Super Pollo

1731 Superior Ave., A
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Hot Chicken

Region: Costa Mesa

Pupuseria San Sivar

1940 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Central American

Region: Costa Mesa

PanaderÍa Y Antojitos Guatemala

1331 E. First St., Ste. A
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Restaurant > Latin American

Region: Santa Ana

El Curtido

300 W. Fifth St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Santa Ana

El Carbonero

803 S. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Restaurant > Central American

Region: Santa Ana

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1. The county's only full-fledged Brazilian eatery, the recently opened Brazilian Grill already impresses with an intriguing mix of impossibly fatty, delicious meals. The risoli, buttermilk fritters that encapsulate ground beef, is the closest you can come to turning meat into dessert. Looking like massive teardrops are the golf-ball-sized, shredded-chicken-stuffed coxinhas. The feijoada stew features every conceivable pork cut and melted cubes of lard. How Brazilians keep their lithe figures on this diet is beyond me. 821 N. Euclid St., Ste. B, Anaheim, (714) 774-5200.

2. Don't let the name fool you—while La Pizza Grotto advertises spaghetti specials and pizza by the slice, its main attraction is Orange County's most comprehensive Peruvian menu. It hits all the notes in a country famous for its immigrant-influenced diet: tasty chaufas and tallarines that are Andean versions of fried rice and chow mein, respectively; pan-Latino empanadas, tamales and breaded beef; a Japanese obsession with seafood platters like ceviche and soups brimming with squid, fish, clams and many other mollusks—even potato-based platters dating to the time of the Incas. 13008 Chapman Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 750-7343; www.lapizzagrotto.com.

3. Royal Oven distinguishes itself from other Peruvian restaurants by preparing causa limena, a mashed potato monolith not unlike Richard Dreyfuss' mad sculpture in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Tinted yellow with pepper and decorated with peas and chicken, the causa limena is technically an appetizer but will stick to your gut for days. Help the digestive process by washing it down with chicha morada, a clove-spiked purple corn punch. 3533 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 771-5859.

 

6 BEST ETHNIC MARKETS

1. The Bonillas who run El Toro Meat Market in Santa Ana and Costa Mesa's El Toro Bravo seek to be our Latino Kennedys, what with their food empire, too-infrequent Santa Ana Bowl rodeo spectaculars and frequent appearances in the society pages. But they would have remained mere Cabots if it weren't for their stores, each with industrial-sized corn mills that plop out fresh masa and tortillas for the families that line up eight deep. And the Santa Ana location is the spot to get an entire freakin' goat's head! 1340 W. First St., Santa Ana, (714) 836-1393; also at 745 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 631-4464.

2. If Irvine's Wholesome Choice is the United Nations of supermarkets, then Produce Warehouseis at least a subcommittee. It's primarily an Argentine market—hence the 15 or so varieties of the bitter Andean tea yerba maté—but you can also buy barley soda and apricot-flavored gelatin from Peru, Colombian jams, and Guatemalan knockoffs of the Salvadoran orange soda Kolashampan. If you're not into Latinos, Produce Market also shelves items from Croatia, Iran and India and good, meaty subs. 1225 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 542-8111.

3. The Orange County outpost of a popular Redondo Beach Argentine market, El Gaucho Meat Market #2 is the commercial nexus for Orange County's Argentine community, stocking traditional Argentine produce like dulce de leche (a caramel-like substance spread on crackers or toast), empanada crusts, beef cuts ranging from the muscle behind the eye to actual ass, randy gossip rags and about 20 Argentine wines. An adjoining deli sells crispy empanadas along with subs any Subway aficionado can enjoy. 847 S. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 776-6400.

4. Tikal Tienda y Restaurante functions primarily as a Guatemalan bodega, providing an affordable courier service along with fruit juices, preserved vegetables and even Guatemalan toiletries. But there are sit-down lunch options here as well: lightly spiced soups and enchiladas (what Mexicans call tostadas, topped with pickled purple cabbage and hard-boiled eggs), fluffy tamales and a great pollo campero, a buttery fried chicken that's like a Meso-American Colonel Sanders. Don't forget to snag one of their delightful almond-flour empanadas, tinted orange and oozing with vanilla custard. 1002 E. 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 973-8547.

5. Colombians make up Orange County's largest South American contingent, yet seemingly the only Colombian business around is Sara's Mercado, which lies in the section of Westminster not yet overtaken by Little Saigon. Three aisles stock all your Colombian produce needs, from chewy burnt-milk candies to gossip rags to condiments to votive candles featuring the country's patron saint, Our Lady of Chiquinquira. Eventually, you want to gravitate toward the back, to the freezer with frozen foodstuffs of plump blood sausages, cheese breads and the arepa, a steroidal tortilla thick with cheese that's as essential to the Colombian diet as cocaine—kidding! 7134 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, (714) 903-0900.

6. Orange County Latinos revere Anaheim-based Northgate González Supermarkets, not only for its Horatio Alger story—the González clan opened the first one off Anaheim Boulevard in 1980 and now operates 17 others in Orange and Los Angeles counties—and its amply stocked stores, but because the company's Anaheim roots cross borders. See, the Gonzálezes hail from Jalostotitlán, a city in Jalisco that has hemorrhaged hundreds of its inhabitants to Anaheim during the past four decades, and they contribute thousands of dollars to charities and churches in both their hometowns. This reputation allowed Northgate to fend off the Mexican-based supermarket behemoth Gigante, which entered Orange County in 2002 vowing to crush the family-run company. Northgate met the challenge with a shrug; while Gigante still has only one Orange County location, Northgate grows and grows, making it the largest Latino-owned company in Orange County. Visit the original Northgate González Supermarket at 722 N. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 774-1178.

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