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Grub Guide

The best damn dining guide in Orange County

TACOS NEZA
Al pastor (spiced pork spun on a spit) is the name of the juego at Tacos Neza, a particularly divey taquería down the street from The Orange County Register'soffices. Marinated in the manner of Texcoco—ain't diversity great? Now we have Mexican restaurants that specialize in the food of Mexican city neighborhoods—it's orange with pork grease, spicy with salsa and just saliva-inducing. 1320 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 834-1292. ¢

TOMMY PASTRAMI
Even in the Brobdingnagian world of Reubens, Tommy's version eclipses all local competitors—Everest to everyone else's Santiago Peak. Grab Tommy's jumbo Reuben with your hands, and half of the meat and sauerkraut immediately plops onto your plate. More meat and sauerkraut falls forth when you finally take a chomp. This process repeats itself with each bite—and still the sandwich, like Jesus blessing fish and loaves, offers even more meat. More sauerkraut. More bread. By the time you finish, there's enough on the plate to feed a class of ravenous kindergartners. 3751 S. Harbor Blvd., Ste. B, Santa Ana, (714) 540-2700; www.tommypastrami.com. $$

SEAL BEACH

Location Info

Map

ESPN Zone

1545 Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Anaheim

Luigi's D'Italia

801 S. State College Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Anaheim

The Clubhouse

3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Costa Mesa

Doria's Original Haus of Pizza

1500 Adams Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Costa Mesa

Maggiano's Little Italy

3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Costa Mesa

Native Foods

2937 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Costa Mesa

Dalton's Restaurant

9575 Valley View St.
Cypress, CA 90630

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Cypress

Hennessey's Tavern

34111 La Plaza
Dana Point, CA 92629

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Dana Point

Kappo Honda

18450 Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Fountain Valley

BRODARD

9892 Westminster Ave.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Garden Grove

Joe's Italian Ice

12302 Harbor Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Ice Cream

Region: Garden Grove

Gallagher's Pub & Grill

300 Pacific Coast Highway, Ste. 113
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Category: Music Venues

Region: Huntington Beach

KOI RESTAURANT
Koi's menu is uncomplicated, authentic and relatively easy on the wallet. For a starter, I adore their famous crunchy rolls made from shrimp tempura, a Japanese root called gobo and smelt egg. I know sea bass is politically incorrect these days, but what can you do? If you're an environmentalist, avoid it. If not, dig in! 600 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., #100, Seal Beach, (562) 431-1186; www.koisushi.com. $$

STANTON

THE GOLDEN STEER
The Golden Steer is what a family restaurant used to be—not just inexpensive enough to feed a family, but tasty and wholesome enough to feed it well. It also hearkens back to the time when a family meal meant meat-meat-meat. The place is crowded, but good acoustics keep it from sounding like a mess hall and incredible service keeps that growl in your stomach from turning into a bad mood. 11052 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 894-1208; www.goldensteer.com. $

SUNSET BEACH

HARBOR HOUSE CAFÉ
This 24-hour diner is a local institution that serves consistently good food. As it's incredibly popular with the late-night crowd, be prepared to wait for a table. 16341 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-5404. $

TUSTIN

CHRISTAKIS
Christakis' beautiful setting separates the eatery from its local Greek brothers-in-grub, but what truly catapults the place into Orange County's high-class dining strata are the platters of its late eponymous founder, Joanne Christakis Wallace. You'll find the standards of Greek restaurants: bitter spanakopita spinach pies, starchy moussaka casseroles, lamb prepared in more ways than there are actual lamb cuts and a thorough selection of seafood. More impressive is an array of pasta dishes that suggests an Italian influence at some point in Christakis' seven-year existence. 13011 Newport Ave., Tustin, (714) 731-1179. $$

HONDA-YA
The Tustin Japanese joint continues to be a county chowhound phenomenon more than a decade after its opening, one of the precious few Orange County restaurants with a daily past-midnight closing time and a 150-plus-item menu that necessitates hours-long pilgrimages just to dent it. Per the izaka-ya tradition, Honda-Ya is all about time and placement: different sections that provoke a different feel and warrant a different menu at different hours. You'll find it all: noodles, sushi, yakitori and tiny bowl-meals sautéed with enough butter to make it pancake-spread worthy. 556 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 832-0081. $$

VILLA PARK

THE COFFEE GROVE
Villa Park's answer to Cheers, the Coffee Grove is a place where you can chat with the locals or read the paper while they whip up your favorite coffee drink. 17769 Santiago Blvd., Villa Park, (714) 974-2650. $

WESTMINSTER

COFFEE FACTORY
To get the full range of Vietnam's jolting coffees, pull up a table at the Anglo-named, French-themed Coffee Factory on the edge of Little Saigon. Sip slowly on the ca phé sua nong, which is as black as Larry Agran's heart (and just as shudder-inducing) or some ice-cold ca phé den da, complete with black tapioca pearls. 15582 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 418-0757. $

KIM SU
A funky little place to eat lunch—traditional Chinese, great dim sum, but we usually go for lunch specials like sweet and sour pork, broccoli beef, and kung pao chicken. Weeklings like this place because you can mix and share food so easily, and because we're cheap bastards. 10526 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 554-6261. $

MÌ LA CAY
Mì rice noodles are actually Chinese, but many Vietnamese places have incorporated them into their menus. Funny how 1,000 years of colonization can do that. Mì La Cay is consistently one of the most popular restaurants in the genre of mì cookery. Bring your appetite, and order a heaping bowl of mì la cay dac biet (the house special). 8924 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 891-8775. $

TOP BAGUETTE
Top Baguette trumps its independent competitors primarily because of its care with ingredients. Their bánh mì heo nuong, ruddy and strongly flavored with hoisin sauce, tastes almost like a moist pork jerky. A meatball bánh mì is tender and cooked in a savory gravy subtly flavored with nuoc mam, the fish sauce Vietnamese pour onto their food like other Asians use soy sauce. For breakfast, Top Baguette even offers a bánh mì of two eggs over easy with pickled carrots, daikon, jalapeño and sprigs of cilantro. 9062 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 379-7726. ¢

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