Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from OC's best damn dining guide

VILLA PARK

CHINA PANDA
With close to 200 menu items, I'd lean toward the Three-Ingredient Taste, an ESL-named chicken, beef and shrimp combo in a broccoli brown sauce. Or try the honey shrimp with walnuts—the salty, sweet shrimp go perfectly with a cold Tsingtao beer. 17853 Santiago Blvd., Ste. 102, Villa Park, (714) 998-4592. $

WESTMINSTER

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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LAZY DOG CAFÉ
The menu is either eclectic or scattershot, depending on your point of view, with everything from pizza to kung pao. But there's no denying each entrée's inherent tastiness. The Shanghai tacos? Quite the treat, coming in the form of a large bowl filled with chicken ground to the consistency of hamburger, stir-fried with water chestnuts and shredded carrots, and accompanied by a plate of iceberg-lettuce leaves. 16310 Beach Blvd., Westminster, (714) 500-1140; www.thelazydogcafe.com. $$

PEKING RESTAURANT
The jellyfish salad is quite tasty, and if you think of it as Chinese pasta, you won't squirm. The family dinners are fabulous with interesting choices, including an entire steamed fish. 8566 Westminster Ave., Westminster, (714) 893-3020. $$

SARA'S MERCADO
For the past four years, Sara's Mercado, a storefront in a section of Westminster Boulevard not occupied by Little Saigon, has imported Colombian produce directly from the homeland. Its three badly lit aisles tower above shoppers' heads with Colombian favorites: smoked oysters, slabs of arequipe (a decadent, silky milk candy), fruity cooking sauces and three different types of salty-sweet fried plantain chips for snacking. Don't forget to gulp down all the sodas! 7134 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, (714) 903-0900. $

SAIGON BISTRO
The place has an interior seemingly boxed up and mailed from fin-de-siècle Paris. The distinctly cosmopolitan appearance of the restaurant carries over into the song selections (we hear English-, Spanish- and Vietnamese-language tunes) and menu (escargot, flan and Vietnamese offerings). 15470 Magnolia St., Westminster, (714) 895-2120. $$

YORBA LINDA

THE WILD ARTICHOKE
While the restaurant's motto, "Food prepared from the heart, with the soul in mind," is cumbersome (it's like a New Age math problem), all of chef/owner James D'Aquila's culinary creations are fabulous, simply fabulous. Stick to the artichokes—either the simple Wild Artichoke salad tossed with various vegetables and sprinkled with bitter balsamic vinaigrette, or the Artichoke Napoleon, a puff pastry in which sautéed artichokes assume the luxuriousness of truffles. 4973-A Yorba Ranch Rd., Yorba Linda, (714) 777-9646; www.thewildartichoke.com. $$$

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

AMAZING KABOB HOUSE
Take the recommendation offered by this tiny restaurant's name: kebabs of lamb, chicken, ground beef, even shrimp sizzling between bell peppers, tomatoes and onions on skewers. But make sure to also order the Kabuli palau—basmati rice cooked with lamb, carrots and currants—and a bowl of aash, a noodle soup with hefty portions of potatoes, chicken and tomato would sell well in Iowa. 3209 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 282-1228; 2445 E. Imperial Hwy. Ste. F, Brea, (714) 529-9300; www.amazingkabobhouse.com. $

CEDAR CREEK INN
The various Cedar Creeks offer similar menus featuring prime rib, rack of lamb and homemade desserts. The Brie-and-pecan-stuffed chicken breast comes with a creamy pear-sage sauce that draws out the fine, nutty flavor of the pecans. The large butterflied scampi is served with capers and diced Roma tomatoes. And the pot roast is a tribute to hearty northern Midwest German-American cooking. 20 Pointe Dr., Brea, (714) 255-5600; 26860 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, (949) 240-2229; 384 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-8696; www.cedarcreekinn.com. $$

CALIFORNIA FISH GRILL
California Fish Grill is one of those middle-class mini-chains common to Orange County—fancier than Knolwood's or Natraj, but a step below Sage or the Daily Grill. The massive charbroiled fillets feature deep grill marks and shine thanks to a powerful garlic-butter coating. All should also order the grilled zucchini and its juicy, smoky innards.10569 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 252-0001; 5675 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim Hills, (714) 777-5710; www.cafishgrill.com. $$

THE DAILY GRILL
This is where you can learn to love the Cobb salad, an orchestrated event of chicken, tomatoes, avocado, bacon, blue cheese, scallions, egg, and romaine and iceberg lettuce mixed in a creamy Italian dressing. Also American comfort food—don't miss the meatloaf—prepared at its highest level. 957 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 644-2223; 2636 Dupont Dr., Irvine, (949) 474-2223.$$

JOHNNY REBS' SOUTHERN ROADHOUSE
With plastic flamingos and a stuffed-catfish wall trophy the size of a walrus, a meal at Johnny Rebs' is like a trip down South. Delight in the Yankee cheese grits and fried green tomatoes, but don't forget to try the catfish.4663 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 423-7327; 2940 E. Chapman, Orange, (714) 633-3369; www.johnnyrebs.com. $

 

LEE'S SANDWICHES
Based out of San Jose, the shop specializes in bánh mì, the Vietnamese sandwich that is an appetizing post-colonial amalgamation. Though the always-endless lines seem imposing, Lee's service is so outstanding that you'll quickly be savoring one of the most outlandish deals ($1.50 for a huge, nine-inch, delicious sandwich) in the world. 9261 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 901-5788; 13991 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, (714) 636-2288; 1028 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 525-2989; 4127 Campus Dr., Irvine, 949-509-9299; www.leessandwiches.com. friggin' ¢

LILY'S BAKERY
Lily's primarily concerns itself with wedding cakes and pastries à la the original locale, but they also slap out a fine bánh mì, layering meats and vegetables into an eye-pleasing sandwich. The best choice is the bánh mì jambon, thick slices of boneless pork leg cured with black peppercorns and a mild vinegar tang. The pork fat gels during curing, adding a curious, slightly rubbery textural contrast to the rich ham and sharp black peppercorns.1005 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 418-0099; 10161 Bolsa Ave., Ste. 109B, Westminster, (714) 839-1099; www.lilysbakery.com. ¢

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