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Grub Guide

A taste of Orange County's best damn dining guide

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

L'HIRONDELLE
The French/Belgian restaurant L'Hirondelle is a San Juan Capistrano institution, used as proof by residents that their city offers more than Father Serra this and swallows that (although the restaurant's name is French for "the swallow"—guess one can't fly too far from the nest). The lapin à la liégeoise (rabbit) is perfect, tasting like a duskier, moister turkey, with a plum wine sauce lending a bittersweet taste and juicy plum skins mixed in. 31631 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 661-0425. $$$

SANTA ANA

Location Info

Map

Gen Kai Japanese Restaurant

3344 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Corona Del Mar

Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie

14354 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Garden Grove

International Meats and Deli

10382 Stanford Ave., Ste. F
Garden Grove, CA 92840

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Garden Grove

Clay Oven Cuisine Of India

15435 Jeffrey Road, Ste 116
Irvine, CA 92618

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Irvine

Jj Bakery & Cafe

15333 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92604-3078

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Irvine

Taiko Japanese Restaurant

14775 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92618

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Irvine

Onami Sushi & Seafood Restaurant

24155 Laguna Hills Mall, Ste. 1301
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Laguna Hills

Picayo

610 N. Pacific Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Laguna Beach

Royal Thai Cuisine

1750 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Laguna Beach

Zinc Cafe & Market

350 Ocean Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Laguna Beach

Empanada Man

20761 Lake Forest Drive
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Category: Restaurant > South American

Region: Lake Forest

Pittsburgh Chicken & Taters

3671 Katella Ave.
Los Alamitos, CA 90720

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Los Alamitos

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EL CURTIDO
The casamiento is a vegetarian's delight combining black beans and rice with eggs, avocado and cream, plus a piece of really salty cotija cheese on the side. We suggest you chase that down with a big cup of Salvadoran horchata. 300 W. Fifth St., Santa Ana, (714) 973-0554. $

 

EL GALLO GIRO
Leopaldo Gonzalez cranks tortas out in seven excruciating seconds, but they're worth the wait. The tortas are delicious and filling beyond description. The bread is warm, and the fresh meats are savory and perfectly complemented by the condiments. 1422 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 549-2011; www.gallogiro.com.¢

 

HANS' HOMEMADE ICE CREAM
Hans Biermann likes to make ice cream and carries some 55 delectable flavors. He also serves up real meals, such as the flaky croissant filled with avocado, almonds, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese and mayo. 3640 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 979-8815.¢

MARISCOS LA SIRENA
This little palace serves caldo de caguama (turtle soup) but also represents its own endangered genus—the restaurant whose métier is stunning Sinaloan-style Mexican food with a side of stereotypes—blistering aguachile with wooden parrots, nuclear ceviche served under drooping nets and deer steaks that are almost as tender as each waitress's top is low. 515. S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 541-0350. $$

PHO HIEN VUONG
Pho Hien Vuong, supposedly the county's first restaurant to serve its beef noodle soup, does serve other things besides the dish it's named after: bouncy goi cuon (spring rolls); rice domes towering over chunks of sautéed beef, chicken or steamed vegetables; and the fabulous chilled vermicelli salad known as bún. But most of Orange County's legal community speeds in from the faraway Central Court for one of the restaurant's 18 primordial phos. 2525 W. 17th St., Ste. H, Santa Ana, (714) 554-2696. $

 

SEAL BEACH

PHILLIPS' FAMILY RESTAURANT
After a lifetime of frozen supermarket chicken pies, these are a revelation.The crust is thick and flavorful, and unlike its frozen brothers, Phillips' isn't stingy with the chicken—and they don't even bother with vegetables. Who needs 'em? Just about everything chicken is worthy here! 13936 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach, (562) 596-1437.$

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. $

STANTON

PARK AVENUE
Gourmet American food in Stanton—who'da thunk it? The whole stuffed chicken, covered in pan drippings, is as fatty as a marbled pork chop, and stuffed with a whipped concoction of creamy mashed potatoes and spinach you couldn't pay us not to eat. 11200 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 901-4400; www.parkavedining.com. $$$

TUSTIN

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. $$

NAAN & KABOB
Naan & Kabob should be renamed Rice & Kabob, since the Tustin Persian eatery prepares the latter platter 36 different ways. Rice with lamb kabob. Rice with fish kabob. Rice with beef, chicken and shrimp kabob. Rice with a type of falafel kabob. Redundant? No: regal. 416 E. First St., Tustin, (714) 66-KABOB. $

VILLA PARK

ROCKWELL'S CAFE AND BAKERY
This neighborhood café and bakery is an ode to Norman Rockwell, with gilt-edged plates and prints covering the bathroom walls. Besides the interior-design salute, Rockwell's serves four great versions of eggs Benedict, all with hollandaise sauce made from scratch. 17853 Santiago Blvd., Villa Park, (714) 921-0622. $

WESTMINSTER

CAJUN CORNER
Cajun Corner is the latest in a rash of Little Saigon restaurants that attract mostly young Vietnamese looking for Louisiana seafood favorites like crab and crawfish, beer and a messy dinner—bibs and butcher paper on your table at Cajun Corner are gospel. The special is a whole Dungeness crab, brought out in a plastic bag heavy with chile rub, awaiting your cracking to reveal soft, buttery meat. 15430 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 775-7435. $$

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. $$

PHO HIEN VUONG DAKAO
How many sit-down Vietnamese eateries, let alone fast-food places, offer audacious dishes like a green papaya salad dotted with dried beef livers or an escargot bún soup? But among these, the sinh to is the true item of veneration: smoother and slightly sweeter than those of other hawkers—and extremely affordable at two bucks per serving. 9200 Bolsa Ave., Ste. 306, Westminster, (714) 897-4330. $

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