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Grub Guide

A sampling of Orange County's best damn dining guide

DIPIAZZA
Established in 1952, this award-winning Italian restaurant received Best Pizza honors in the Entertainment Book for five straight years. It offers a huge menu selection, including American dishes; you'll want to try the enticing chicken piccata, fettuccine Alfredo, lasagna, shrimp and pastas. The chicken Parmesan melt sandwich and the calamari steak will create lasting memories in your stomach. Plus, they sell Fernet Branca, which will cure your cholera. 5205E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 498-2461; www.dipiazzas.com. $$

 

M & M SOUL FOOD
Ask the folks at M & M to comment on the peach-hued walls, lowered ceilings and general bunker-like atmosphere (livened up only by an animatronic James Brown doll and a display case full of dolphin-shaped oil burners for sale), and they'll decline. Wisely so. But the food—perfectly grilled short ribs, snappy okra with nary a touch of sliminess, nummy peach cobbler, amongst other dishes—they'll praise with the intensity of a Sunday-morning gospel choir. 5400 Cherry Ave., Long Beach, (562) 422-8395. $

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E-San Rod-Sap

1719 W. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Anaheim

TAPS Fish House & Brewery

101 E. Imperial Highway
Brea, CA 92821

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Brea

The Golden Truffle

1767 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Costa Mesa

El Matador Restaurant

1768 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Costa Mesa

Orchid Restaurant and Lounge

3033 Bristol St., # D
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Costa Mesa

Mike's Bar-B-Que

11513 Knott Ave.
Cypress, CA 90630

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Cypress

Moonlight Pizza & Chicken

9895 Warner Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Hot Chicken

Region: Fountain Valley

The British Grocer

305 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > English

Region: Fullerton

Hot Wok Restaurant

1111 S. Lemon St.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Fullerton

Mandarin Pavilion

1050 W. Valencia Drive
Fullerton, CA 92833-3305

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Fullerton

Roadside Burgers

513 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Burgers

Region: Fullerton

Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie

14354 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Garden Grove

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LOS ALAMITOS

PITTSBURGH CHICKEN & TATERS
Most Americans know the Steel City for its bankrupt hockey teams and bruising football squads, but this storefront restaurant with its goofy hen mascot (circa earlyPeanuts) makes broasted chicken. They pressure-cook the gals with the same relentless intensity the Steelers defense applies on third-and-15, producing meat that's plump and moist inside a fine gnarled skin. 3671 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-0140. $

 

MISSION VIEJOSANTORA'S PIZZA, SUBS & WINGS
Matthew 20:16 taught us that the last shall be first, and that's the best way to describe Santora's Pizza, Subs & Wings, a dank tavern just down the street from the sterile opulence of the Shops at Mission Viejo. Santora's pizza is passable; the subs nothing a Togo's drone can't slap together in three minutes. But Santora's Buffalo wings are the gourmand Gospel manifest: the Good Word transubstantiated into fleshy appendages ready to burn through your alimentary canal like the fires of Gehenna. 28251 Marguerite Pkwy., Mission Viejo, (949) 364-3282. $

NEWPORT BEACH

59TH AND LEX CAFE
Bloomingdale's West Coast café is sunnier and sassier than its New York counterpart. You'll like the 59th Street sampler, a salad combo that features fresh mozzarella and baked goat cheese on field greens with lemon vinaigrette. 701 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 729-6600. $$

MASTRO'S OCEAN CLUB FISH HOUSE
Mastro's prides itself on an à la carte menu with gargantuan portions—think Claim Jumper, but three times the style and cost. So it's not a problem an appetizer like vanilla-battered shrimp includes just three of the crustaceans: the shrimp are among the largest you'll ever see, about the size of a cop's blackjack. And any qualms over paying almost $30 for a fish fillet will disappear under their dense, buttery consistency. 8112 E. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 376-6990. $$$

MULDOON'S
The perfect fish-and-chips search ends here. Five pieces of fresh red snapper are piled atop skin-on shoestring fries made from real potatoes. The batter on the fish is golden and puffy, like fried cumulus clouds. And the Irish soda bread will make you a regular. 202 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-4110. $$

TACO ROSA
It's not just the wide swath of Mexico—Mexico City, Oaxaca, even the Yucatan—that makes Taco Rosa one of the few truly successful gourmet Mexican restaurants. Taco Rosa succeeds because its few tweaks are Mexican-based and surprising. Ask for the aguas frescas and instead of horchata, waiters will recommend a frosted, freshly squeezed cup of cantaloupe or melon—¡delicioso! 2632 San Miguel Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 720-0980. $$

ORANGE

DAIRY TREET
Across the street from Chapman University is a burger stand that advertises itself as the oldest 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. ¢

 

THE TULSA RIB COMPANY
An open-minded place with a sense of adventure. The ribs rule here, coming in a broad range of styles from traditional to Cajun to Caribbean. 954 N. Tustin Ave., Orange, (714) 633-3760.$$

PLACENTIA

SOPHIA'S
Some of the best Greek cuisine in North Orange County. The food is simple and perfect for long lunches in the pretty dining room or the small garden patio. I love their chicken-and-lemon soup. They serve a whole range of roasted meats, including lamb and fresh seafood. Their pistachio baklava tends to be very rich. 1390 N. Kraemer Blvd., Placentia, (714) 528-2021. $

SAN CLEMENTE

SWISS CHALET
This restaurant primarily serves German-inspired food, but such dishes as the Chalet Fischteller (sautéed shrimp, scallops and clams in a white wine-tarragon cream sauce and served on linguine) and a pfeffersteak (fillet of beef tenderloin sautéed in a clarified butter on a four peppercorn-whiskey cream sauce) display interesting Italian and French touches. Since this is alpine food, Swiss Chalet also features many veal dishes. 216 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 492-7931. $$

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, with juicy plum skins mixed in. 31631 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 661-0425. $$$

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