Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from OC's best damn dining guide

SALAMAT MARKET & DELI
Salamat is more than just a takeout deli serving great kebabs, stews and soups. The tiny store stocks a surprising array of goods imported from Iran: traditional Persian cheeses and figs; oils, jams and spices; and Persian breads ranging from pita to lavash to the massive sangak, a 2-foot-long flatbread thing that looks like a miniature bed sheet. There's even something called Armenian cracker bread, which is wrapped in butcher paper but feels and weighs like a military-grade pretzel. 1718 N. Tustin St., Orange, (714) 921-0153. $

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, while their pistachio baklava tends to be very rich. 1390 N. Kraemer Blvd., Placentia, (714) 528-2021. $

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-A 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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SAN CLEMENTE

SONNY'S PIZZA AND PASTA
Home of a monster marinara sauce that is nearly orgasmic. The sauce is ladled onto your choice of spaghetti, mostaccioli or rigatoni with Italian sausage or meatballs the size of your fist on a plate big enough to feed three. 429 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 498-2540; www.sonnys.com. $

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

TAQUERÍA Y TORTILLERÍA
For $10, you can eat like a king. Goat burritos, tongue burritos, brain burritos, it doesn't matter; you'll eat like a king. 31921 Camino Capistrano, Ste. 15, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 240-3141. ¢

SANTA ANA

NANCY PUEBLA RESTAURANT
Lurking within this seemingly mundane Mexican restaurant are delicious, complex rarities from the central state of Puebla, platters more familiar to an ethnography than an Orange County menu—dense mole poblano, pale goat menudo and guilotas, a chewy type of quail so region-specific it's not even listed in most Spanish dictionaries. 1221 E. First St., Ste. C, Santa Ana, (714) 834-9004. $

ROYAL KHYBER
The self-proclaimed "restaurant of the year" unabashedly serves upscale Indian cuisine in a setting more suited for coats and ties than T-shirts and jeans. The spicy chicken Madras features big chicken chunks and sliced tomatoes buried in a potent curry highlighted by freshly ground black pepper. It torches. 1621 Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 436-1010; www.royalkhyber.com. $$

 

TANGATA
You want to feel pampered and catered-to like a well-tended divorcee? Then you must dine where the socialites and divorcees dine: at your neighborhood museum. Tangata is the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art's restaurant, and it is exquisite and perfect in every way. Everything goes better with the citrus-based ponzu (that's the stuff they put on your salmon and halibut in the better sushi joints). 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 550-0906. $$$

WHOLE PITA GREEK ISLAND GRILLE
The Whole Pita's menu is simple—variations on gyros and salads and universal Mediterranean appetizers such as hummus and olives. But from this predictability emerges some of the finest Greek cuisine since the dearly departed Café Plaka. Pitas are Doric-big; the casseroles are hearty, meaty, and teeming with layers of flavor. Remember to squirt in some fotia, the restaurant's hellish emerald-green hot sauce, but drink lots of water afterward—fire! 3940 S. Bristol St., Ste. 113, Santa Ana, (714) 708-3000. $

YOUNG'S MARKET
Certainly Young's—the county's only Polynesian market—has crates of coconuts, tons of taro and packets of poi (the taro-based paste similar to applesauce) galore. But items such as corned beef, pork bangers and breakfast biscuits are the true imperialists of Young's three aisles. See, the Polynesian palate is dominated by British faves. Because of this hospitality, county Polynesians have made Young's their piece of paradise. 12317 Westminster Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 554-0690.¢

SEAL BEACH

YUCATÁN GRILL
If the baffling neon color scheme doesn't dissuade you from entering, you'll be rewarded with a stunning offering of Caribbean specialties. Order their steak Palomilla, a husky chunk of marinated steak topped with a garlicky garnish called mojo. 550 Pacific Coast Hwy., Ste. 111 Seal Beach, (562) 430-4422. $$

SUNSET BEACH

HARBOR HOUSE CAFÉ
This 24-hour diner is a local institution that serves consistently good food. As it's incredibly popular with the late-night crowd, be prepared to wait for a table. 16341 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-5404; www.harborhousecafe.com. $

STANTON

MITSUYOSHI
Mitsuyoshi, a humble, rock-solid Stanton restaurant patronized by the North County Japanese community, makes a particularly alluring version of sukiyaki, with a heavy, sweet broth packed with thin slices of beef, green onions, cellophane noodles, mushrooms, tofu cubes and bamboo shoots. And in traditional fashion, there's a bowl of raw egg in which to dip the beef strips. 12033 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 898-2156. $$

TUSTIN

OSAKA KAPPO
This tiny restaurant caters to off-duty sushi chefs and Japanese families, serving bento boxes and teriyaki lunch specials; but it specializes in the elusive kappo—traditional single dishes that originated in Kyoto hundreds of years ago. 13681 Newport Ave., Ste. 9, Tustin, (714) 730-7051. $$

PHILLY'S FAMOUS CHEESE STEAK
Though smaller than the monsters hawked at John's Philly Grille in Anaheim or Costa Mesa's Frank's Philadelphia, Philly's Famous's cheesesteak surpasses the two in the most crucial cheesesteak factor: the cheese. It overwhelms your senses like a good cheese should, like the best quesadillas: sharp, comforting, gooey. The cheesy cheese choice marries Cheez Whiz, American white and provolone into a tasty, wonderful triad, each fromage strong and distinct. And despite the dairy onslaught, the beef's savor doesn't wilt, remaining juicy like the finest shawermas. 648 E. First St., Tustin, (714) 505-6067. $

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