Grub Guide

This week in bringing back a bigger dining guide


Au Lac is as soothing and tranquil as any place you'll find in a strip mall. They specialize in gourmet Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine, but what really lines the kids up outside is the soy-meat masterpieces on their almost entirely vegan-friendly menu. 16563 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, (714) 418-0658; $$


Location Info


Cortina's Italian Market

2175 W. Orange Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Anaheim

Matiki Island Barbeque

3070 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Hawaiian

Region: Anaheim

Zankou Chicken

2424 W. Ball Rd.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Armenian

Region: Anaheim

Bismillah Halal Tandoori Restaurant

8901 Knott Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Buena Park

Dove Canyon Steak House

31911 Dove Canyon Drive
Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Coto de Caza

Irvine Lake Cafe

4621 Santiago Canyon Road
Silverado, CA 92676

Category: Parks and Outdoors

Region: Silverado

Au Lac Vegetarian Restaurant

16563 Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Fountain Valley

Caspian Restaurant

14100 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92604

Category: Restaurant > Persian

Region: Irvine


18482 MacArthur Blvd.
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Irvine

Aliso Beach Snack Bar

31131 S. Pacific Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Laguna Beach

Coyote Grill

31621 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Southwestern

Region: Laguna Beach

Solomon's Bakery

23020 Lake Forest Drive, Ste. 170
Mission Viejo, CA 92653

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Laguna Hills

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Mulberry Street, Fullerton's best East Coast-style bar, has plenty of seafood augmenting its Italian menu, and you can't go wrong with what locals tout as Mulberry Street's specialty: the steamed clams. In the words of one longtime patron and master of rhetoric, they are "to die for." 114 W. Wilshire Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-1056; $$


Mahina serves an array of delicious standards: shredded kalua pork so thin it looks like fabric; teriyaki beef and chicken grilled to succulent zeniths; breaded shrimp, pork and chicken platters that crumble in your mouth like a rain of soft butter; bowls of steaming, succulent, soy sauce-slathered meat. But it's the Spam musubi—the supreme example of the island's mishmash diet of indigenous, Japanese and postwar Americana cuisine—that will never leave your mind. Or, perhaps, your intestines. 12546 Valley View St., Garden Grove, (714) 890-0198. $


A Korean palace—beautiful tables, chandeliers, grand piano—where folks grill their meat or chow through cold noodles or seafood pancakes. Don't bother with ordering cake for dessert, though: the sweet hereafter is a wonderful cinnamon drink with floating pine nuts to rinse the garlic from your breath. 8295 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 530-5388. $$HUNTINGTON BEACH

Everyone from surfers in damp trunks to families celebrating special occasions feels welcome at this restaurant inspired by the Islands and the Pacific Rim. 317 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-6446.$$


Wise diners will go for the three-bucks-and-change combo No. 1: chow mein with just the right amount of grease, steamed or fried rice, and one selection from the steam table, all piled so high you can barely shut the foam tray they serve it in. Combo No. 2 comes with an extra steam table selection. You'll be breakfasting on leftovers for many a sunrise. 19077 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 596-3908. ¢IRVINE

The owners of Caspian Restaurant named their business after the world's largest landlocked body of water for a reason, and their seafood servings—jumbo shrimp subsumed in onion juices, for instance—live up to the sea's salty character. The shirin polo, rice studded with baked orange peels, pistachios and almonds, would persuade Bush to remove Iran from his Axis. 14100 Culver Dr., Irvine, (949) 651-8454; $$

Gulliver's prime rib is the primest of prime. El Primo de Ribbie Ribozo!Un Primen de Ribentrop! What else is there to say? It's succulent, it's pink, it's thick, and it's delicious.You'll be saying Voulez-vous le Ribby de Prim! I surrender. 18482 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine, (949) 833-8411. $$

At the Melting Pot, it's hard to eat a full meal, with dessert and drinks, without leaving at least a C-note behind, but the spent Franklin is worth it. Such a cost gets you a bowl of cheesy fondue, fine salad, French-influenced meat entrées and a dessert that's flambeauxed in front of ya. 2646 Dupont Dr., Irvine, (949) 955-3242. $$$



A tiny room that always seems packed, Chicken Box fries up all the bird parts you'd expect with just enough grease to keep things tasty, as well as ribs, batter-fried fish and reasonably healthy stuff like salads. And you gotta love a place that sells boysenberry punch—a supertart, purple elixir probably mixed nowadays only at Knott's Berry Farm, and then probably only as a tourist curio. 330 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 691-1701. $


The restaurant has a modern décor in deep soothing colors, where the servers are attentive. Put yourself in the mood for the chicken-breast special, which is cooked to a golden tenderness and seasoned to a subtle richness. 30 Center Pointe Dr., Ste. 1, La Palma, (714) 523-3729. $


This South Laguna landmark anchored Aliso Pier until the pier's 1999 demolition but remains unchanged since its 1972 opening save for the prices, and a wooden menu dating back to the start shows that even those aren't dramatically different. The wait is always long, but don't hold it against owner Barbara Perry—she's usually the only person working. She no longer makes the funnel cake that seared itself into many lingual memories, unfortunately, so salve your disappointment with a sip of a powerful banana shake and a surprisingly tasteful chicken gyro. 31131 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 499-6811. ¢

The décor might be Southwestern/northern Mexican-light, but the hulking burritos doused in salsa and stuffed to bursting with real steak strips and the deep-fried cove chicken surrounded by heaps of mashed potatoes make up for it. All this and Coke in a bottle! 31621 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 499-4033.$$

Orange County seems just too spick-and-span Christian to host a real New York-style Jewish deli, but try telling that to the folks at Kosher Bite in Laguna Hills, a cluttered room where the air conditioning is three ceiling fans on their last wobbly rotations, potato-and-barley soup is boiled daily, the Sabbath means rest, and the menu—knishes, matzo ball, pastrami on rye—is as stubbornly borscht belt as Carl Reiner. 23595 Moulton Pkwy., Ste. H, Laguna Hills, (949) 770-1818. $

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