Summer Grub Guide

Your guide to the best damn eats in OC

The perfect non-chain burger, a quarter-pound patty all gussied up with the Thousand Island dressing, the lettuce, the onions, the tomatoes and the sesame-seed bun. Brea's Best also has sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, burritos and breakfast fare. You could even eat healthy by ordering an ostrich burger—but why would you? A word of warning: the place gets mobbed during the weekday lunch rush, so plan accordingly. 707 S. Brea Blvd., Brea, (714) 990-2615. $

Bravo's Elvii and Marilyns can get annoying, but people return for the grub. Bravo's burgers are sticky with Thousand Island dressing and buttressed by toasted buns that hold a sublime grilled patty. It's messier (and better) when topped off with Bravo's monumental chili: cheesy, meaty and smoky. Other sandwiches are available—mayo-heavy club sandwich this, greasy bacon burger that, even a game attempt at a chicken gyro—but in this county's proud melting pot, few things approach that icon of culinary fusion, Bravo's pastrami quesadilla. 19102 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 968-9880. $

Across the street from Chapman University, it's advertised as the oldest burger stand in OC (est. 1949). Get those burgers, and also the smoothies and shakes. Don't get thrown off by the katakana script above the ordering window: that's for Chapman's large Japanese student population. Poor student's special: 99-cent burger. 292 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 538-5904. ¢

Location Info


Bad to the Bone BBQ

31738 Rancho Viejo
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: San Juan Capistrano

Burrell's Bar-B-Que

305 N. Hesperia
Santa Ana, CA 92703

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Santa Ana

Chris & Pitts

601 N. Euclid St.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

The District Lounge

223 W. Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92866

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Orange

Lou's Red Oak BBQ Grill

21501 Brookhurst St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Huntington Beach

Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que

1639 E. Imperial Highway
Brea, CA 92821

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Brea

Angelo's Drive-In Hamburgers

511 S. State College Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

Bristol Burgers

2640 S. Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA 92704-5727

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: Santa Ana


5665 E. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92807

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

Omega Drive-In

319 W. Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92866

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Orange

Roadside Burgers

513 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Burgers

Region: Fullerton

Ruby's Diner

3333 Bear St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Costa Mesa

Imperial Burgers serves many more things besides its Cheddar cheese-heavy pastrami burritos—its burgers, for instance, charbroiled marriages of meat, soft bun, sweet cheese and lettuce. Or standard breakfasts of pancakes, hash browns and sausage. And always sip on ultra-sweet Orange Bang whenever you find this increasingly rare beverage. Everything is good here, really. But La Habra is so far away, and the pastrami burrito is so good—why would you ever order anything else? 241 E. Imperial Hwy., La Habra, (714) 525-1611. $

The place serves scrumptious one-third-pound burgers as big as your head. What else needs to be said? 150 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 879-7552; 5665 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, (714) 779-2501; 14952 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, (949) 857-8927; 28061 Greenfield Dr., Laguna Niguel, (949) 831-1593. $

You can't accuse this joint, located quite obviously in a former KFC, of false advertising. Their trademark is the mega mega burger, a cake-sized burger, served in slices, that is the equivalent of eight hamburgers. Note: if you think a mega mega burger sounds like an eat-alone kind of meal, do yourself a favor—take a good look in the mirror and have your cholesterol checked first. 34122 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, (949) 488-0849. $

The "Last Word in Fine Food" is cheap, cheap, cheap. Full breakfast—eggs, pancakes and bacon—for $2.19. Burger specials with fries and drink for $3.45. Steak dinner for $4.10. If cholesterol doesn't scare you, see you there. Scary food item: pastrami burrito unearths bad memories of Oki Dog. Sadly, no Charlton Heston sightings. 319 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 532-2022. ¢

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. ¢

Though it bills itself as a tribute to Route 66, Roadside is just too good. Its burgers—well-wrapped and slightly bigger and tastier (and more expensive) than your typical burger dive—are a tad too gourmet for true shack consideration. Still, the nostalgia at Roadside is all about the location: across the street is the historic Fox Theater. When that majestic building opens its doors anew, patrons will likely cross the street to share a malt with their beloved, and the curtain will rise on another scene in our American play. Onion rings are extra.513 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 871-0040. ¢

Ruby's remains dedicated to its 1950s-style, burger-and-malt-shop motif but with a few stabs at California cuisine thrown in for good or bad measure. 3333 Bear St., Ste. 120, Costa Mesa, (714) 662-7829; 428 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-7829; end of Balboa Pier, Newport Beach, (949) 675-7829; end of Seal Beach Municipal Pier, Seal Beach, (562) 431-7829; and many, many more.$

Where else can you get fine ground turkey and fresh purple onions on a bouncy egg bun, breathe in salt air, and listen to the waves for less than $4? The burger is so fine, you'd never guess it's good for you. The locals aren't quite sure what's in it, but they agree it's the secret sauce that makes the bun and turkey combo shred. 110 Pacific Coast Hwy., Ste. 10, Huntington Beach, (714) 960-3238; 2119 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 673-3438. $

A Tommy Burger tribute stand, but worth the wait in a teen-infested line that snakes all the way across the street to Los Al High. The chili is mandatory. 3652 Cerritos Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 430-6004. $

Eighteen whoppers are flipped at this Santa Ana food-mark, but the best is a triple-cheeseburger that could out-$6-burger Carl's Jr. any day—and at only $4.60. 2860 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 545-8219; $

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