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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from OC's best damn dining guide

MARTINI BLUES
Everything looks great coming out of the kitchen of this bona fide supper club, and we can personally vouch for the Martini Blues Favorite—a rotelli pasta with chicken or shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and bell peppers in a spicy chipotle Alfredo sauce. Like all dinners, it comes with soup or salad; steamed vegetables; and a choice of garlic mashed potatoes, angel hair pasta or rice pilaf. 5874 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 840-2129; www.martiniblues.com. $$

TACOS EL CHARITO
Here is Orange County's best deal: two tasty tacos for a buck, with free, unlimited pineapple juice. Who cares that this taco truck is in the middle of Surf City's notorious Slater Slums—two tacos for a buck with free pineapple juice! On Morgan Street between Slater and Speer aves., Huntington Beach. No phone number. ¢

WINGS 'N THINGS
With its dim lighting, cozy booths and just-shy-of-tacky wall-to-wall collection of Buffalo Bills football memorabilia interspersed with Little League team pictures, Wings 'N Things is like a portal to Eastern Standard Time. Authentic Buffalo-style wings (in hot sauces ranging from mild, medium and hot to "X-hot" and "Beyond Hot") are available in 10-piece ($6.25) or 16-piece ($8.95) servings. It's the county's most apt introductory course to (upstate) New York living. 18302 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 848-2767. $

Location Info

Map

Merhaba Restaurant

2801 W. Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > African

Region: Anaheim

Yi Dynasty Korean BBQ

1701 Corinthian Way
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Newport Beach

RENDEZVOUS

26701-B Verdugo St.
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: San Juan Capistrano

China Olive

3420 S. Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Santa Ana

Ricas Tortas Ahogadas

Fourth and Mortimer sts.
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Santa Ana

Yellow Basket

2860 S. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Category: Restaurant > Burgers

Region: Santa Ana

The Crema Cafe

322 Main St., 7
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Seal Beach

HK FOOD MARKET

14551 Red Hill Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780-6238

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Tustin

Harbor House Cafe

16341 Pacific Coast Highway
Sunset Beach, CA 92649

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Huntington Beach

Chez Rose

7360 Westminster Blvd.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Westminster

Tai Buu Paris

9684 Westminster Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Garden Grove

THE WILD ARTICHOKE

4973-A Yorba Ranch Road
Yorba Linda, CA 92886

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Yorba Linda

IRVINE

BISTANGO
California cuisine. When we're dining on someone else's account, we like the prix fixe. Key attraction: ambiance. A rotating art exhibit features contemporary artists of the West (for sale) and lite—we mean helium-filled—jazz on the weekends. Always a business buzz. 19100 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, (949) 752-5222; www.bistango.com. $$$

CHICAGO'S BEST
This tiny counter in a nameless Irvine food court serves all your Chicago faves—hot dogs, roast beef sandwiches and the fascinating Chicago tamale, a sweeter, fluffier version of the Mesoamerican standard stuffed with chili. Not bad at all—you could sneak one into a Mexican household come Christmastime and no one would complain. 2540 Main St., Irvine, (949) 757-1802; www.chicagos-best.net. $

DARBAND
All Persian restaurants feature shirin polo, basmati rice mixed with shredded chicken and fragments of orange peel, pistachios and almonds. Darband outdoes them all by including a whole half chicken instead of chicken strips. And instead of mixing it into the shirin polo, the Darband cooks bring it out simmering in a bowl of chicken broth. The result is a chicken so succulent and tender that you can eat it with a spoon. 14210 Culver Dr., Ste. H, Irvine, (949) 857-8265. $$

TALEO
You've been eating Taléo's dishes all of your Southern California life—chicken and beef enchiladas, sultry mole poblano, ceviches and sopes. But they were never so tasteful and light on the stomach as these. And the flan—smoky, moist custard—will finally convince you there's a future for this most mundane of desserts. 3309 Michelson Dr., Irvine, (949) 553-9002; www.taleomexicangrill.com. $$$

LA HABRA

CAT & CUSTARD CUP
La Habra's toniest (read: priciest) restaurant—nothing on the dinner menu is less than $16.50. We can't actually afford to eat here, but it's been around for years, and people are always raving about it, so it must be good. Fancy-prepared American food in an English-pub setting (though it's quite a bit larger than a real English pub). 800 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 694-3812; www.catandcustardcup.com. $$$

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; and 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 BEACH

ALISO BEACH SNACK BAR
This South Laguna landmark anchored Aliso Pier until the pier's 1999 demolition but remains unchanged since its 1972 opening, save for the prices. And a wooden menu dating back to the start shows that even those aren't dramatically different. The wait is always long, but don't hold it against owner Barbara Perry—she's usually the only person working. She no longer makes the funnel cake that seared itself into many lingual memories many years ago, unfortunately, so salve your disappointment with a sip of a powerful banana shake and a surprisingly tasteful chicken gyro. 31131 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 499-6811. ¢

HAPI SUSHI
When we come here, we consume like Newport housewives armed with gold cards at Fashion Island. The best way to enjoy the sushi is to ask about the specials. Each time we've entrusted ourselves to their culinary knowledge, we've been rewarded with something tastily beyond imagination. 250 Beach St., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-9109. $$

MOZAMBIQUE
It advertises itself as a South African restaurant, but Mozambique most 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. $$

PENGUIN CAFE
Whenever I visit Penguin Cafe, I always order the same item: the Penguin Burger combo, a half-pound burger sparsely decorated with lettuce, pickles and a tomato atop the glorious patty. Thousand Island dressing is on the side; thin, crispy fries come as well. The Penguin Burger may seem unremarkable, something you can grill in your back yard, but this is the sweetest burger around: a luscious, massive pillow of juice, man's perfect burger. 981 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-1353. $

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