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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

IRVINE

A & J RESTAURANT
A & J Restaurant is a bustling café that's part of a massive Beijing-based chain known for fast, hot, cheap, delicious northern Chinese food: heavy wheat noodles, meats in scalding soups, pork dumplings with broth inside its transparent casing. But it's salted soymilk—a pungent, oily, viscous, funky type of porridge—that brings in the customers. 14805 Jeffrey Rd., Ste. D., Irvine, (949) 786-3585. $

CHAKRA
You can imagine Bollywood goddess Aishwarya Rai filming some steamy-but-chaste dance scenes in the confines of Chakra's opulent set. But, thankfully, Chakra owners Ravi and Sunita Koneru invested money not only in the décor but also in chefs capable of embarking on a trek through India's major foodie provinces not found in any other Orange County restaurant—Gujarat, Kerala and even Hyderabad. 4143 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 854-0009; www.chakracuisine.com. $$

Location Info

Map

La Langosta

408 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Anaheim

Rasthal Vegetarian Cuisine

2751-2755 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Anaheim

Oki Doki

13681 Newport Ave., Ste. 9
Tustin, CA 92780

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Tustin

Harbor Café & Tacos

16540 Harbor Blvd.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Fountain Valley

Heroes Bar & Grill

125 W. Santa Fe., Ste. 128
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Fullerton

Kung Pao House

217 N. Euclid St.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Fullerton

Roadside Burgers

513 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Burgers

Region: Fullerton

BCD Tofu House

9520 Garden Grove Blvd., Ste. 9
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Garden Grove

Boulangerie Pierre & Patisserie

14354 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Garden Grove

Vien Dong

14271 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Garden Grove

The Chicken Co.

9017 Adams Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Huntington Beach

Lucci's Deli and Market

8911 Adams Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Huntington Beach

JIMMY Z GRILL
Don't be scared by the fact that the menu cover reads, "Jimmy Z Grill.com." Jimmy Z Grill is the hottest non-chain restaurant in Irvine, and Jimmy Z is a really nice guy. But that's not all—his menu is chock-full of delicious eats. 4517 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 737-6700. $$

TAIKO
Irvinites all agree on one thing and one thing only: the No. 10 combo, a tender, chewy, delectable calamari steak with teriyaki sauce and sashimi. Taiko's calamari is a delicate homage to the squid, one that I have many times failed to re-create. 14775 Jeffrey Rd., Ste. K, Irvine, (949) 559-7190. $$

LA HABRA

RICARDO'S EL RANCHITO
Go here for three reasons: to watch the tortilla makers do their thing inside a glass booth; to mack out on the light, flaky flour tortilla chips; and to feast on the superb camarones rancheros, a droolingly wonderful dish. 1351 S. Beach Blvd., La Habra, (714) 871-4692. $

LA PALMA

HANNAM SUPERMARKET
The city says 1,500 shoppers file into this Korean grocery store every day. That's no surprise: this place is stocked with plenty of Korean squash—which resemble flattened pumpkins—frozen vegetable dumplings and corn buns for all your authentic Asian dining needs. 4941 La Palma Ave., La Palma, (562) 865-4116. ¢-$$

LAGUNA, LAGUNA, LAGUNA!

230 FOREST AVENUE
230 Forest Avenue's (it's both the address and the name of the restaurant) starter plates give you plenty to choose from, including wild-mushroom strudel wrapped in phyllo with dark garlic sauce; roasted-artichoke crab dip with warm herb-pita crisps; and salmon and mussel stew with white beans and applewood-smoked bacon, slow simmered in a vegetable fish broth. 230 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-2545. $$$

EVA'S CARIBBEAN KITCHEN
Eva's occupies the same simple cottage that the dearly missed Drew's Caribbean Kitchen rented for many years. The best remnant from Drew's days is an open kitchen that continues to flambé and sauté a cruise-ship tour of Caribbean cuisine, with stops for moist Bahamian conch fritters, a sweet St. Martin-style salad and enough varieties of rum to give Captain Morgan cirrhosis. 31732 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 499-6311; www.evascaribbeankitchen.com. $$

KOSHER BITE DELI
Orange County seems just too spic-n-span Christian to host a real New York-style Jewish deli, but try telling that to the folks at Kosher Bite in Laguna Hills, a cluttered room where the air conditioning is three ceiling fans on their last wobbly rotations, potato-and-barley soup is boiled daily, the Sabbath means rest, and the menu—knishes, matzo ball, pastrami on rye—is as stubbornly Borscht Belt as Carl Reiner. 23595 Moulton Pkwy., Ste. H, Laguna Hills, (949) 770-1818. $

PICAYO
This charming boutique French restaurant has a terrific appetizer—a sautéed foie gras served on a bed of spinach with a sherry vinegar sauce. Forget your misgivings about eating goose liver; this is a culinary petit mort. Your server will suggest a glass of sweet sauvignon blanc to accompany the foie gras, and even though this will bring your tab to more than $20 (and you still haven't ordered an entrée), you'll do it gladly. 610 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-5051. $$$

ROMEO CUCINA
At Romeo Cucina in Laguna Beach, the carpaccio appetizer—a large platter caked with carpaccio—is preposterously delightful and, at $11.95, a steal of a meal. Both shaved and chunky, the soft morsels are complemented with zingy lemon and capers, fresh-shaved Parmesan, artichoke hearts and salad bits. Other Italian platters are excellent, but the carpaccio is like a beef-flavored Listerine strip for the gut. 249 Broadway, Laguna Beach, (949) 497-6627. $$

ZINC CAFÉ
The lasagna is a great example of why meat or the absence of it is a non-issue at Zinc Café. A mixture of ricotta, ginger, shallots, garlic and spinach is lavished between the noodles, making it rich and filling. Served on a soft bun with all the trimmings, the vegetarian Zinc burger imparts a certain meat-lust satisfaction that few meatless burgers do. 350 Ocean Ave., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-6302. $

LAKE FOREST

EL PARAÍSO
El Paraíso prepares sit-down platters as well: aromatic soups of chicken, beef or cow's foot with about four different squashes and potatoes; nicely grilled meats; and yucca sancochada, a golden and chewy version of the tuber doused with lemon. But no matter who's ordering what or working where, everyone who comes to El Paraíso forks through at least two chewy, sweet pupusas, the Salvadoran griddle cake that's the sole unifier of the fractious Central American nation. If there's a better pupusa in South County, you're eating a gordita. 25252 Jeronimo Rd., Ste. B, Lake Forest, (949) 770-2775. $

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