Grub Guide

The county's best damn dining guide

ROY'S
Roy's is all about Hawaii—from the "Aloha" you get when you come in the door and the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole playing over the speakers to the blah, blah, blah about Tokyo-born founder Roy Yamaguchi, whose childhood visits to Maui, we're told, indelibly shaped his palate (and his palette). Whatever: Yamaguchi has been fusing ever since, and with great success; he is now the Wolfgang Puck of some 31 eponymous restaurants in North America with entrées such as rib-eye and wild Scottish salmon. 453 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-7697. $$$

ORANGE

THE DISTRICT LOUNGE
The District Lounge's 'cue is serious, and Reverend Morton's Savory Bar-b-que Savior Sauce—a relishy, sweet glop the District crew administer judiciously to all meats—could score a ribbon in a Kansas City cook-off. The tri-tip's middle is pink, its skin charred yet juicy, and it arrives about eight lengths to an order. Ribs plop off easily, and enough chewy meat hangs off the bone to fill you and create a separate hamburger. Chicken wings slap the tongue with their salty, mesquite burn and await a dunking into a thimble of great mustard-ranch dressing. 233 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 639-7777. $$

Location Info

Map

Ali Baba Restaurant

100 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Anaheim

Matiki Island Barbeque

3070 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Hawaiian

Region: Anaheim

El Misti Picanteria Arequipena

3070 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Peruvian

Region: Anaheim

Hot Dog On A Stick

2153 Brea Mall Way
Brea, CA 92821

Category: Restaurant > Fast Food

Region: Brea

Karuta Restaurant

6890 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90621

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Buena Park

Irvine Lake Cafe

4621 Santiago Canyon Road
Silverado, CA 92676

Category: Parks and Outdoors

Region: Silverado

Beach Pit BBQ

1676 Tustin Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Costa Mesa

Karl Strauss Brewery

901 S. Coast Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Breweries and Wineries

Region: Costa Mesa

Harbor House Cafe

34157 Pacific Coast Highway
Dana Point, CA 92629

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Dana Point

Anh Hong Restaurant

10195 Westminster Ave.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Garden Grove

Seoul Oak Korean BBQ

8295 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Garden Grove

Duke's Huntington

317 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Category: Restaurant > Hawaiian

Region: Huntington Beach

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PLACENTIA

TONY'S LITTLE ITALY
The best lunchtime pizza is made at Tony's Little Italy: as thick as a Tom Clancy novel and the circumference of a basketball hoop. They also sell subs and such Italian-American classics as spaghetti, ravioli and mostaccioli, but the focus is on the pizza—it says so on their window. 1808 N. Placentia Ave., Unit B, Placentia, (714) 528-2159; www.tonyslittleitaly.com. $

SAN CLEMENTE

CAFÉ CALYPSO
Café Calypso's inventive menu and fresh ingredients draw some real salt-and-pepper legitimacy from being served on the bottom floor of the old Hotel San Clemente. Their breakfast bagel melt is a killer, with steamed scrambled eggs, roma tomatoes and provolone cheese baked onto the bagel. Café Calypso makes some mighty coffee drinks too. 114 Avenida de la Mar, San Clemente, (949) 366-9386. $

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

VINE
Vine is an epicurean stunner, a snug eatery that's been open for about a year now and continues to attract South Countians seeking a joyous repast. It focuses on California wine-country cuisine, meaning alchemies of seasonal flavors and ingredients that are as nuanced and numerous as the vineyards of Napa: pumpkin ravioli appetizers, sea scallops with fava beans and other assorted meal miracles prepared by owner/chef Justin Monson. 211 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 361-2079; www.vinesanclemente.com. $$$

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.$

FAVORI
The French-Vietnamese hybrid has inexpensive French dishes of the kind that have all but evaporated from our cholesterol-obsessed culture. The Fruit de Mer au Gratin features sweet clams and pungent mussels (both still in their shells), smoky shrimp, bits of fish, and strands of faux crabmeat baked in a terrine of cream sauce rich with butter. As good as it is, everything pales beside Favori's beautiful, huge catfish. 3502 W. First St., Santa Ana, (714) 531-6838. $$

LA NUEVA REYNA DE MICHOACÁN
If you get lost in the bustle of Santa Ana's Fourth Street on a hot day and need salvation, just follow the ice cream drippings toward La Nueva Reyna de Michoacán, a veritable Baskin Robbins en español. La Nueva Reyna's ice cream is velvety, like a lover's tongue on yours—except for the wonderful chunks of fruit. Go for the harder-to-find flavors—sultry mango, bitter plum, luscious coconut and the fleshy aroma of guayaba (sadly a seasonal fruit, available only in the fall). 300 E. Fourth St., Santa Ana, (714) 835-0394. ¢

 

EL RINCÓN CHILANGO
El Rincón Chilango
in Santa Ana is Orange County's best re-creation of Mexico City, and not just because the street-side restaurant features the megalopolis's iconic Angel of Independence statue as its logo, nor because its marquee screams "100% D.F." Mexico City favorites are in order here: wonderful potato tacos with the shells fried until they shine like the Stanley Cup; supersyrupy sodas such as Jarritos and Boing; and the tlacoyo, a foot-long gordita bloated with earthy, bright-yellow fava beans and splattered with diced onions and a tangy green salsa on the outside—the heartiest meal you'll eat until Thanksgiving. 1133 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 836-5096. $

TACO ADOBE
Like the magma-like house salsa, Taco Adobe's impressive gourmet platters emerge from a seemingly mundane menu. The camarones con chipotle are butterflied, grilled and slathered with a creamy, sweet chipotle sauce that complements the beautiful pungency of the shrimp. The hefty Adobe burritos could stand proudly against anything rolled in the Mission District and feature three types of cheese within their flour tortilla wrappers. They even experiment successfully with the Adobe pasta platter, linguine sautéed with garlic and that wonderful chipotle cream sauce. 1319 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 543-2411. $

SEAL BEACH

A SLICE OF NEW YORK PIZZA
Orange County had a pitiful pizza tradition until the arrival of A Slice of New York Pizza. Whatever you might want on your pie—zesty pesto, searing buffalo wings, pineapple, pepperoni—it comes out like they like it in the Bronx—superthin, crunchy, topped with the minimal amount of sauce and served on butcher paper. If you care anything about food, you will visit this cubbyhole. And we lovethe blown-up Topps football card of John Riggins with the New York Jetssupoib! 142 Main St., Ste. B, Seal Beach, (562) 493-4430. $

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