Grub Guide

This week in bringing back a bigger dining guide

SAN CLEMENTE

WAFFLE LADY
Waffles with the circumference of chessboards, topped with coconut, rife with pecans or drowned in maple syrup—fine and all. But have you ever chomped on the burger at the Waffle Lady? The certified-Angus-patty burger? The burger with a crescent of avocado, sinewy red onions and just-perfect mild salsa? You haven't? You just like the waffles here? Good for you—but eat the burger someday. 107 Via Pico, San Clemente, (949) 361-9132. $

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

Location Info

Map

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

Gulliver's

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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ADOBE DE CAPISTRANO
The favorite Mexican restaurant of el PresidenteRichard Nixon. Stop by the presidential booth, and order the President's Choice (guacamole, chile relleno, chicken enchilada, beef taco, Spanish rice and refried beans). 31891 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 493-1163. $

SANTA ANA

BENJIES
Benjies is mostly about big, meaty food served quickly. After chucking any hopes of swimsuit modeling, the Francheesy may be for you: grilled knackwurst with bacon and American cheese just oozing off the sides. It's angioplantastic! 1828 N. Tustin, Santa Ana, (714) 541-6230.$

COLIMA
Where else can you dine on tender barbecued goat in a smoky sauce and swaddled in steaming tortillas made on the premises? The only thing I like better is the house specialty: a mild white fish filet stuffed with shrimp, mushrooms and mixed vegetables. 130 N. Fairview, Santa Ana, (714) 836-1254.$

NANCY PUEBLA RESTAURANT
Lurking within this seemingly mundane Mexican restaurant are delicious, complex rarities from the central state of Puebla, platters more familiar to an ethnography than an Orange County menu—dense mole poblano, pale goat menudo and guilotas, a chewy type of quail so region-specific that it's not even listed in most Spanish dictionaries. 1221 E. First St., Ste. C, Santa Ana, (714) 834-9004. $

 

PANGEA
Pangea has operated a modest little shop in Santa Ana's Artists Village for two years now and just three months ago started serving dinner Thursday through Saturday. But we love Pangea best because it delivers. Indulge in their sandwiches: a hibachi-grilled Atlantic salmon filet served with a zesty ponzu glaze, a fresh Artists Village turkey wrap or the Malaysian curry chicken breast sandwich—really, any of the fusion-style globalness that Pangea rocks out with its cocks out. 211 W. Second St., Santa Ana, (714) 834-0688; www.pangea-cafe.com. $$

RICAS TORTAS AHOGADAS
Ricas Tortas Ahogadas offers no seating except a shade-free street curb where it parks on Santa Ana's Fifth Street, next to a host of auto shops. But this lunch truck is a barrio culinary school: the guys inside slap out hellacious tortas ahogadas, the Guadalajara specialty involving luscious carnitas, crispy French rolls, cold onions and a pool of salsa: the best burn since Chris Rock ragged on his own kind. On the corner of Fifth and Townsend sts., Santa Ana. ¢

SEAL BEACH

NICK'S DELI
Nick Zampino has no evidence, no proof, no corroborating facts or photographs, but he swears he knows in his heart that his family originated that most delicious and conveniently held of early morning victuals: the breakfast burrito. After tasting these apotheoses, you'll be inclined to agree. 223 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 598-5072. ¢

STANTON

CAFÉ CLAIR
If white people go in here, they get glared at—it's an all-Korean clientele. But they have these really great $5 milkshakes—they're small, but so good. They're a little bit bigger than a shot glass, and we don't know what's in there, but they're very creamy. Go with an Asian friend, preferably a Korean, and preferably a Korean who speaks Korean. 12860 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 379-2575. $

SUNSET BEACH

CAPTAIN JACK'S
Opened June 25, 1965, this steak and seafood restaurant supposedly serves 53,000 pounds of Alaskan king crab per year—more than any other restaurant in the U.S. It prides itself on consistent quality and hearty portions. The bar is one of the few that still use the "Super Well," meaning that if you order gin, you get Bombay, and if you order vodka, you get Absolut. 16812 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-2514. $$

TUSTIN

BLACK SHEEP BISTRO
For the superlative paella, a couple of days advance notice is needed, but for good reason. You won't find a more complex, beautifully presented or better-tasting dish in OC. The scrumptious leftovers made for the 10 people in our party weighed at least a pound each. 303 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 544-6060; www.blacksheepbistro.com. $$


JAMILLAH GARDEN
Drones at the industrial park at the corner of Tustin Ranch and Walnut welcome the noon hour with joy. Like an oasis in the Gobi lies Jamillah Garden, one of the county's two restaurants specializing in Islamic Chinese cuisine, a dining tradition combining Middle Eastern opulence with the austere tastes of northern China. Corporate types crowd into the restaurant in a sort of hunger haj throughout the day, drawn by the affordable lunch specials, curry chicken and sesame bread, a Frisbee of flour speckled with scallions. 2512 Walnut Ave., Tustin, (714) 838-3522. $$

VILLA PARK

FIRST CLASS PIZZA
Go for the employee sampler, which features four different pizzas, including the barbecue chicken, zesty Italian, Villa Park special with fresh basil and garlic, and the combo with pepperoni and sausage. 17853 Santiago Blvd., Villa Park, (714) 998-2961. $

WESTMINSTER

CHEZ ROSE
The back-and-forth between French and Vietnamese décor at this vegetarian restaurant gets dizzying, even a bit annoying. But bickering soon dissipates under the brotherhood of great food, hybrids that you can imagine indulging along the banks of the Seine or Mekong. And as Edith Piaf begins to sing "La Vie en Rose"—for some serendipitous reason, the CD player always plays her torch song around dessert time—and you sip on a second order of coma-eradicating coffee, you can feel the world revert to a pre-Dien Bien Phu era, when French elegance and Vietnamese refinement waltzed tenuously. 7360 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, (714) 890-9711. $

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