Grub Guide

Orange County's best damn dining guide


Here, they set the standard for more-bowl-for-your-buck. A bowl of rice and one selection from the steam table will knock you on your ass for less than $3. The sweet-and-supple barbecue pork somehow stays tender under those harsh fluorescents. The kung pao chicken has kick, maybe even too much. Bitterly cheap gluttons, this is your place. 18527 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, (714) 962-4221. ¢


Location Info


Blue Bayou Restaurant

1313 S. Harbor Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92802

Category: Restaurant > Cajun

Region: Anaheim

Dream Cafe

830 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Anaheim

Win Thai Cuisine

1151 N. Euclid St.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Anaheim

The Bungalow Restaurant

2441 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Category: Restaurant > Steakhouse

Region: Corona Del Mar

La Cave

1695 Irvine Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Costa Mesa

Costa Brava

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

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Costa Mesa

Marukai Market

2975 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Grocery

Region: Costa Mesa

Lucky Chinese

18525 Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Fountain Valley

Amazon Churrascaria

1445 S. Lemon St.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Fullerton

El Camino Real

303 N. Euclid St.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Fullerton

Al Waha B.B.Q. Family Restaurant

9562 Chapman Ave.
Garden Grove, CA 92841

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Garden Grove

Joe's Italian Ice

12302 Harbor Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Ice Cream

Region: Garden Grove

This Brazilian beef barn ignores the multicultural influences predominant in most Brazilian dishes for the straightforward flesh diet of the sertão. Impeccably dressed waiters serve 20 types of meat, everything from the Homer Simpson fantasy of bacon-wrapped turkey to well-charred chicken hearts to a great alligator sirloin. 1445 S. Lemon St., Fullerton, (714) 447-1200. $$

For the best Mexican food in Fullerton for lunch, call ahead of time. The lunch lines are usually so long that they are reminiscent of the toilet-paper lines in the good ol' Soviet Union. Vegetarians can rejoice at the potato taquitos! 303 N. Euclid St., Fullerton, (714) 447-3962. ¢

This charming café, right in the center of Fullerton's ever-expanding downtown bar life, might capitalize on the needs of the health-starved—it's a vegetarian joint, opening daily at 7 a.m. with an almost entirely vegan breakfast menu—but in a home-cooked, motherly, it's-good-for-you-because-I-say-so way. Owner Sandy Sauers excels with small touches, such as a feta cheese and sun-dried tomato dressing that sits lightly on the portobello mushroom burger, adding a freshness to the dusky fungus, or almonds and golden raisins on a surprisingly zesty coleslaw. 108 W. Wilshire Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-5111; $


This is America at its most yummily raucous, as Asian, Latino and white families join Muslims in the clamor, united under the brotherhood of good Middle Eastern grub. The buffet is the most popular choice, but hidden under the daily specials menu heading are Middle Eastern regional specialties, unknown to other county Arabic restaurants, that trump Frommer's in giving insight to the Middle East. 9562 Chapman Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 539-0656. $

A Pennsylvania-based chain, Joe's Italian Ice has just one West Coast location, this one in Garden Grove, from which the company has hawked its namesake product to the heated hoi polloi for two years. (They also offer such soda-shop standards as ice cream cones, sundaes and root beer floats.) You can order the Italian ice as is, but it's infinitely better as a Joe Latti: your choice of Italian ice crowned with a Babel-esque tower of velvety vanilla ice cream, each frosty product retaining its charm until uniting inside your mouth to create the most pleasant brain freeze of your life. 12302 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 750-1076. ¢

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. $$


Habana Café is the second restaurant of owner Martín Espinosa, who has operated a Cuban bakery in Downey for more than a decade. Espinosa bases recipes on his mami's cookbook, so in addition to Cuban standards such as the tart shredded-beef stew ropa vieja and a complimentary side of moros y cristianos (Moors and Christians, the deliciously un-P.C. name Cubans give to black beans mixed with white rice), Habana Café also cooks up specialties rarely found outside Miami: crab croquettes, a spicy oxtail stew with the bizarre name rabo encindido ("flaming tail") and veggie omelets that Cubans call tortillas. 18552 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 968-1672. $$

Everything looks great coming out of the kitchen of this bona fide supper club, and we can personally vouch for the Martini Blues Favorite—a rotelli pasta with chicken or shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms, and bell peppers in a spicy chipotle Alfredo sauce. Like all dinners, it comes with soup or salad; steamed vegetables; and a choice of garlic mashed potatoes, angel hair pasta or rice pilaf. 5874 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 840-2129; $$

Newport Beach chefs Tim and Liza Goodell are most famous for Aubergine, which we've called one of the best French restaurants in the county, a statement that even the fussiest foodies fear to dispute. Red Pearl, though, offers a strangely good Californian take on Asian cuisine, a sort of "It's a Small World After All" mélange of dishes. They make a mean bowl of jasmine rice. 412 Walnut Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 969-0224. $$?


Bin Bin Konjac is the county's first outpost of a popular Taiwanese chain trying to market konjac, a fibrous root health-food freaks know better as glucomannan that has the enema powers of a Metamucil milk shake. But Bin Bin Konjac, which roughly translates as "Icy Konjac," attracts Irvine's sizable Chinese community more for its refreshing confections than any intestinal-cleansing promise. Of the konjac-with-aloe smoothie, Bin Bin's menu gushes, "All the ladies out there do not miss this wonderful drink." 5406 Walnut Ave., Ste. C, Irvine, (949) 651-6465. $

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