Grub Guide

Orange County's best damn dining guide

 

KAPPO SUZUMARU
Small though it is, Kappo Suzumaru is really two restaurants—a fast-paced sushi bar with comforting (California) and confounding (fermented soy bean?) rolls, and a leisurely main dining room separated by paper lanterns and banners stitched with slogans in katakana and kanji script. At some point, get the ochazuke: rice plum soup that's hearty but viciously tart—something that will comfort and enthrall you the rest of the day. 17292 Mcfadden Ave., Ste. B, Tustin, (714) 665-1300. $$

VILLA PARK

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India House Restaurant

7775 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620

Category: Restaurant > Brunch

Region: Buena Park

Silverado Cafe

28272 Silverado Canyon Road
Silverado, CA 92676

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Silverado

Katie Mcguire's Pie & Bake Shoppe

10121 Valley View St.
Cypress, CA 90630

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Cypress

Beverly's Best Bakery

3020 Brea Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92835

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Fullerton

Chicago Harv's

410 E. Chapman Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Fullerton

Anna's Mondu

9972 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Garden Grove

Vien Dong

14271 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Garden Grove

Zubies Dry Dock

9059 Adams Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Huntington Beach

Clay Oven Cuisine Of India

15435 Jeffrey Road, Ste 116
Irvine, CA 92618

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Irvine

Kochee Kabob House

4143 Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Irvine

Casa Olamendi's

1100 S. Coast Highway, Ste. 202
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Laguna Beach

French 75 Bistro and Champagne Bar

1464 S. Pacific Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: Laguna Beach

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CHINA PANDA
With close to 200 menu items, I'd lean toward the three-ingredient taste, an ESL-named chicken, beef and shrimp combo in a broccoli brown sauce. Or the honey shrimp with walnuts; the salty, sweet shrimp go perfectly with a cold Tsing Tao beer. 17853 Santiago Blvd., Ste. 102, Villa Park, (714) 998-4592. $

WESTMINSTER

COFFEE FACTORY
To get the full range of Vietnam's jolting coffees, pull up a table at the 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. $

GALA BAKERY
When was the last time you had a decent baguette when you met that special someone in Paris and professed your undying love? What happened? Did you lose touch? Did they cheat on you with dirty Spaniards or slutty Canadians? Go to Gala Bakery, order a few fresh loaves of baguettes and some iced café au lait, and try to remember a time when love was not so cruel. 14570 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 775-7327. $

PAGOLAC
Pagolac will show you another side of beef—seven, to be exact. "Bo 7 Mon," the restaurant sign's subtitle, is Vietnamese for seven courses of beef, the restaurant's specialty. Ungodly slabs of sirloin are transformed into wisps of flavor-packed beef. 14580 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 531-4740. $$

THANH'S
It's as if you're in the other Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City), sans the oppressive humidity. The menu—108 items ranging from bò nuong (barbecue beef) to hu tieu (noodle soup) to com (rice)—is a gastronomic delight. 9872 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 531-3888. $

YORBA LINDA

FITNESS PIZZA & GRILL
Their oval-shaped, thin-crust pizzas have deceptively healthy names like Triathlete, Iron Man and Gymnast (it is pizza after all, but they claim they're all very low in fat). Either way, they taste good. 18246 Imperial Hwy., Yorba Linda, (714) 993-5421; www.fitnessgrill.com. $

 

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

BIRRIERIA Y PUPUSERIA JALISCO
Whether you order Mexican or Salvadoran food at Birriería y Pupusería Jalisco, make sure to mix and match condiments, if only in the name of Latino solidarity. Add curtido (the Salvadoran slaw that accompanies pupusas) to Birriería's bottle-sized burritos—enjoy the contrast between the garlicky, pickled curtido and the unspiced beans-rice-and-meat simplicity of the burrito. Spread the chilled, citrus-tinged house salsa on the pupusas to tweak the hearty appetizer. 404 N. Grand Ave., Ste. A, Santa Ana, (714) 836-4409; 17292 W. McFadden, Ste. D, Tustin, (714) 573-1586; 6999 E. Cerritos Ave., Stanton, (714) 826-3382; 2525 N. Grand Ave., Ste. A, Santa Ana, (714) 288-8931; 1212 S. Bristol Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 662-7400. $

 

CLARO'S ITALIAN MARKET
Claro's is a fourth-generation family business with a passion for food as big as the 600-pound loaves of provolone they are known to display during winter. Besides a huge selection of imported groceries, Claro's houses a stellar deli and bakery. 1095 E. Main St., Tustin, (714) 832-3081; 101 W. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 690-2844. $

 

THE GYPSY DEN
Hipster Orange County's favorite place to ogle progressive waitresses. The menu is still filled with an eclectic collection of healthy post-hippie sandwiches, and the décor is almost identical, from the earthy walls to the funky art. 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 835-8840; 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 549-7012; www.gypsyden.com. $OPAH
The menu is a blend of nouveau-seafood with democratic flair. Fish fanatics must get the Pacific Northwest cioppino, which bursts with chunks of salmon, halibut and ahi. 26851 Aliso Creek Rd., (949) 360-8822; 22332 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita, (949) 766-9988; 13122 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, (714) 508-8055; www.opahrestaurant.com. $$PASTA CONNECTION
If you haven't dined at this Italian-Argentine chain, you're at least familiar with its logo—a picture of a howling toddler with spaghetti dripping from his head, an Orange County advertising icon as beloved as Mickey Mouse or the Spanky's guy. As the name suggests, Pasta Connection likes to prepare pasta—silky fettuccines, blockish raviolis and lasagnas that look like a Bicycle pinochle deck. 1902 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-3484; 2145 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 541-0053; www.pastaconnection.net. $

PAUL'S PLACE
In a region still dotted with the mom-and-pop burger dives of yore, Paul's Place is our Mel's, a mini-chain with locations in Buena Park, Fullerton and Anaheim that don't look a day older than 50. Burgers are charred, massive and come sans condiments, the better for you to squirt to your delight. And in a nod to the changing times, there is also a salsa bar to douse their quite-big, quite-tasty burritos and gyros. 1040 N. Magnolia Ave., Anaheim, (714) 761-4351; 7012 Orangethorpe Ave., Buena Park, (714) 522-5050; 506 S. Euclid Ave., Fullerton, (714) 870-5995. $

SUN-DRIED TOMATO CAFÉ
Rack of lamb is as ubiquitous to fancy American bistros as falafels are to Middle Eastern bazaars, but the Sundried Tomato Café prepares a version fit for hoity-toity cavemen—meaty bones doused with a tart cranberry sauce, the lamb cooked to pink perfection. Great, zesty namesake cream soup as well. 31781 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 661-1299; 361 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach; (949) 494-3312; www.sundriedtomatocafe.com. $$

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