Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from OC's best damn dining guide

TAQUERÍA EL GRANJENAL
Named after a Michoacán rancho that has sent thousands of its residents to Orange County, the colorful restaurant makes the best tacos in the county. They deviate from taco protocol by using full-sized corn tortillas and piling on chunks of your choice of grilled meat. The salsa is extraordinary, a dark-red lava extract whose burn factor is unknown outside Paricutín. 899 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa. (949) 645-4964. $

ZIPANGU
There are marvels here: the kabocha dumpling is baby lobster and pureed Japanese pumpkin in a balsamic glaze and garnished with some sort of flash-fried sage or mint. The New York steak, served as sushi-sized pieces in a tangy teriyaki sauce, is buttery and tender and perfectly done. And there's enough sushi here to warrant a Greenpeace visit. 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 545-2800; www.zipanguoc.com. $$

CYPRESS

Location Info

Map

Sonic

1632 N. Lemon St.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Fast Food

Region: Anaheim

Thai Laos Market

1721 W. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Grocery

Region: Anaheim

Portillo's

8390 La Palma Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Buena Park

Irvine Lake Cafe

4621 Santiago Canyon Road
Silverado, CA 92676

Category: Parks and Outdoors

Region: Silverado

Karl Strauss Brewery

901 S. Coast Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Breweries and Wineries

Region: Costa Mesa

Sushi Sho Japanese Restaurant

2263 Fairview Road, Ste. J
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Costa Mesa

Ziing's Bistro and Bar

209 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Fullerton

Hang a Ri Noodle House

9916 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Garden Grove

Esther's Place

6789 Warner Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Category: Restaurant > Sandwiches

Region: Huntington Beach

Sebastiani's Italian Bistro Co.

6078 Warner Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Huntington Beach

Vessia

3966 Barranca Parkway
Irvine, CA 92606-8235

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Irvine

Onami Sushi & Seafood Restaurant

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

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Laguna Hills

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DALTON'S
"Family-style" before the phrase meant "Norm's," Dalton's has gabby servers with odd hairstyles, a mostly older clientele, hearty extra-large egg breakfasts served all day, and a menu dominated by meat and fried stuff. 9575 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 229-8101. $

DANA POINT

SALT CREEK GRILLE
A cozy yet elegant, wood-accented restaurant that would fit just perfectly at Whistler or some other upscale ski resort. Recommended are the margarita chicken (grilled chicken breast marinated in tequila and lime juice) and seared rare ahi (drizzled with ginger soy wasabi sauce). The bar area is a popular pickup joint for middle-aged folks. 32802 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, (949) 661-7799; www.saltcreekgrille.com. $$

FOUNTAIN VALLEY

SEÑOR RUBEN'S
This is one cozy oasis—especially after generous-sized margaritas and frosty-mugged Tecates are set before you. The shark fajitas—strips of onion, tomato, bell peppers and killer fish served sizzling in a platter—are muy bueno. 11035 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley, (714) 531-4909. $$

FULLERTON

TAAL
A deviation from the usual buffets and quickie curries, Taal is a comprehensive take on Northern Indian cuisine with a couple of Chinese-Indian dishes—spicy chow mein!—to delightfully confuse eaters just so. 2720 Nutwood Ave., Fullerton, (714) 871-7846; www.taalrestaurant.net. $$

THAI RAMA
Making tempura is a delicate process, but when it's cooked right, it's better than Jesus. This quaint little restaurant offers a vegetable tempura—lacy, golden, spot-on perfect with fresh vegetables, cooked to a slight snap, and coated in a batter so light it floats—that walks on water. 2500 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, (714) 526-0777. $$

ZIING'S
Ziing's owners consulted a feng shui master during the design, and the results seem to vindicate their expenditure. This applies particularly to the miso-seared ahi, which is sliced and arrayed on a black plate with a red spoon of Shanghai sauce, mixed greens, a cube of wasabi and shiitake-ginger "chopsticks" that look like Vienna roll cookies. The ahi itself is exquisite. 209 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 526-5777. $$

GARDEN GROVE

ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF ORANGE COUNTY
During Ramadan, Fatima Rahman (known to all as Auntie Fatima) lords over the best religious-minded buffet in the county at Orange County's largest mosque, preparing $2 Styrofoam cartons of delicious Indian food and stray baklava. The rest of the year, Auntie Fatima prepares it only during Friday services. Some of the tastiest Indian food around—and no faith in Allah required! 9752 13th St., Garden Grove, (714) 531-1722.¢

CAPITAL SEAFOOD
The clam-and-ginger soup at Capital Seafood is amazing. Small, chewy clams in their shells combined with a delicious, spicy, clear ginger broth make one of the most interesting and flavorful seafood soups out there.8851 Westminster Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 892-4182; www.capitalseafoodrestaurant.com. $$

HANG A RI NOODLE HOUSE
The cult of gook soo at Hang A Ri Noodle House, a wood-paneled Korean restaurant in Garden Grove's Little Seoul district, might initially flummox your American palate—these buckwheat noodles are thin, slimy and pungent. But then you chopstick the noodles into your mouth—sluiced with chile, paired with fiery kim chi, supported by a fine complementary anchovy soup—and the frustrations of the evening vanish. 9916 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 537-0100. $

REGINA'S RESTAURANT
Argentina lives in this tiny strip of Garden Grove's Westminster Boulevard, and the results are incredible: cheesy, fresh Argentine-style Italian pastas, gut-busting dishes of beef (the parillada has five different types alone) and over 30 native Argentine wines. But the best part is gracious owner Elías Niquias, who will greet you by name the second time you visit. 11025 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 638-9595; www.reginaargentina.com. $$

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 neededfora 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 julliened carrots 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. $

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; www.dukeshuntington.com. $$

ESTHER'S PLACE
Owner Esther Kim's sartorial elegance is topped only by her sandwiches, made from organic veggies and better than anything Mom ever packed for lunch. Make sure to top any hoagie off with one of her frosty health shakes. Don't know which one? Let her decide for you—she decides well. 6789 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 841-4266. $

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