Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

HUNTINGTON BEACH

BODHI TREE VEGETARIAN CAFÉ
Deciding what to eat at Bodhi Tree—there are more than 100 mock-meat choices—involves the same deliberation needed for a koan. The tofu-drop soup, bobbing with meaty chunks of bean curd, bamboo shoots and cilantro, is free. Not free but worth the somewhat-pricey $3.50 is the chicken-satay baguette sandwich full of faux fowl, tomatoes and so many julienned carrots that it could be classified under the salad portion of the menu and mislead no one. 501 Main St., Ste. E, Huntington Beach, (714) 969-9500. $

 

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Rosine's Mediterranean Restaurant

721 S. Weir Canyon Road
Anaheim, CA 92808

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Anaheim

Sinbad Ranch

521 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Grocery

Region: Anaheim

Trabuco Oaks Steak House

20782 Trabuco Oaks Drive
Coto De Caza, CA 92679

Category: Restaurant > Steakhouse

Region: Coto de Caza

Super Corokke

675 Paularino Ave., Ste. C
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Costa Mesa

Beach Cities Pizza

34473 St. of the Golden Lantern
Dana Point, CA 92629

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Dana Point

Kasen

9039 Garfield Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Sushi

Region: Fountain Valley

Hotbellies

1860 W. Orangethorpe Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92833-4406

Category: Restaurant > Dessert

Region: Fullerton

Roadside Burgers

513 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Burgers

Region: Fullerton

Ruben's Bakery

438 S. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832-2409

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Fullerton

Banh Mi & Che Cali

18122 Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Fountain Valley

Hwang Hae Do BBQ

9448 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Garden Grove

Peruvian Kitchen

2540 Main St.
Irvine, CA 92614

Category: Restaurant > Peruvian

Region: Irvine

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PERUVIAN KITCHEN
The folks at Peruvian Kitchen don't dumb it down for the city's bros at all. In addition to their black-but-moist hen, they offer fried rice adorned with raisins, carrots and corn; sturdy French fries with snappy hot dog slices; and a fabulous mesquite-smoked yam. But go for the anticuchos: two skewers of dark-brown beef heart glazed with garlic. The anticuchos are chewy, intensely meaty and easily the best offal in the county. 17552 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 847-7555. $

DUKE'S
Everyone from surfers in damp trunks to families celebrating special occasions feels welcome at this restaurant inspired by the Islands and the Pacific Rim. 317 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-6446.$$

EAST COAST HOT DOGS
No tables inside—just counters and stools. No air conditioning—that's why there are two tables outside. There's a great Italian roast beef sandwich, a multifolded pastrami, fries, onion rings and tater tots. But people line up five deep for the 11 hot dog varieties, ranging from Chicago to chili-cheese to something called the Wow! Dog—a blackened kielbasa, sautéed onions and a schmear of thick, gritty mustard worthy of its exclamatory name. 19092 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 378-0364. ¢

IRVINE

CHANTECLAIR
Both coffin dodger and whelp alike enjoy a sterling menu prepared by executive chef Yves Fournier, one in a long line of dazzling Chanteclair chefs that includes Pascal Olhats. Fournier maintains Chanteclair's multiyear tradition of Zagat listings with such items as his filet mignon, a dish that drips with enough blood to qualify as a Red Cross donation. Also lustrous is the steak Diane, a perfect compromise for no-frills meat fans and nuance-demanding foodies. 18912 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine, (949) 752-8001. $$$

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. $$

 

DIHO BAKERY
The Japanese are the creators of nikuman, the world's cutest sandwich, which consists of a candied, spongy flour wrapped around gingered meats and vegetables. At Diho Bakery, nikuman-type sandwiches are elevated to an art form on par with calligraphy. The taro, in particular, is a pleasant surprise—not your tiki party's dull, watery poi paste, but instead a jam waiting to be copyrighted by See's. 14130 Culver Dr., Ste. J, Irvine, (949) 857-6415. $

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. $$

LA HABRA

CHICKEN BOX
A tiny room that always seems packed, Chicken Box fries up all the bird parts you'd expect with just enough grease to keep things tasty, as well as ribs, batter-fried fish and reasonably healthy stuff like salads. And you gotta love a place that sells boysenberry punch—a supertart, purple elixir probably mixed nowadays only at one other concern, Knott's Berry Farm, and then probably only as a tourist curio. 330 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 691-1701. $

LA PALMA

JOHNIE'S JR. BURGERS
It's ham, cheese, onions and green peppers—hold the nonsense—stuffed into a three-egg pillowcase, presented alongside a nest of crispy, lush, hashed-brown potatoes and two slices of sourdough toast, gobbled down between a couple of cups of coffee. It's nothing fancy, which means it fits right in at this converted Taco Bell with decals of the Fat Boy—a too-close-for-comfort cousin of the late Big Boy—plastered across the table at every booth. 7811 Valley View St., La Palma, (714) 228-0464. $

LAGUNA, LAGUNA, LAGUNA!

CAFÉ ZOOLU
If you're into seafood, go for the jumbo-sized swordfish. Expect to empty your wallet or purse—but Café Zoolu is one of the few places in OC worth every penny. 860 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-6825. $$

THE COTTAGE
What's the secret of this Laguna Beach restaurant's decades of success? Good food and lots of it; comfy chairs and friendly service; charming framed photographs of Laguna's original greeter; and a full, sated belly every time you leave. 308 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-3023. $

 

MOZAMBIQUE
It advertises itself as a South African restaurant, but Mozambique excels in its preparation of meat—pork chops, steaks, seafood and the great Durban curry, a dusky lamb dish that will warm you up wherever you may be. 1740 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 715-7100; www.mozambiqueoc.com. $$

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