Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

LOU'S RED OAK BBQ GRILL
Lou's is Orange County's original place to knife through Santa Maria-style barbecue, the supremely succulent charcuterie tradition of the central California coast. Whether it's monstrous tri-tips, weighty steaks or divine chickens you're gnawing through, they all retain hints of Lou's red, oak-smoked, rotisserie pedigree. And there's a reason it was once "Lou's Oak Oven Beanery"—their poquito beans side is the ideal hybrid between the pinto bean's gentle bite and the red bean's furtive sweetness. 21501-D Brookhurst St., Huntington Beach, (714) 965-5200; www.lousbbq.com. $

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 were chewy, intensely meaty, the best offal in the county. 17552 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 847-7555. $

IRVINE

Location Info

Map

Catalina Fish Kitchen

670 W. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Costa Mesa

Lucky Chinese

18525 Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Fountain Valley

Lou's Red Oak BBQ Grill

21501 Brookhurst St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Huntington Beach

PAESANO'S

5440 Orangethorpe Ave.
La Palma, CA 90623

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: La Palma

Aliso Beach Snack Bar

31131 S. Pacific Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Laguna Beach

Kosher Bite Deli & Meat Market

23595 Moulton Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92653

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Laguna Hills

Kitayama Restaurant

101 Bayview Place
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Newport Beach

Mastro's Ocean Club Fish House

8112 E. Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Newport Beach

Pavilion

690 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Category: Restaurant > Asian Fusion

Region: Newport Beach

Shiki Japanese Restaurant

1936 E. Katella Ave.
Orange, CA 92867

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Orange

Watson Drugs and Soda Fountain

116 E. Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92866

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Orange

Molly Bloom's Irish Bar and Restaurant

2391 S. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

Category: Music Venues

Region: San Clemente

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6IX PARK GRILL
The creations of chef Yves Fournier at 6ix Park are fresh and memorable, a studied California approach to standards such as salmon, steak and pastas. Even more impressive, though, Fournier veers from the protocol of most county hoteliers and offers a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Any day that proceeds from a luscious frittata to a perfect porterhouse and concludes with an apple-hazelnut cobbler with a ginger sorbet will be one of the better 24-hour cycles of your year. 17900 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, (949) 225-6666. $$$

CHINA GARDEN
The dim sum jockeys who patrol China Garden with their carts and filled plates want you to gorge immediately, but pace yourself: the visits will not cease, the goodness of the county's best dim sum will not end. Cha shu bao, filled with sweet red barbecued pork, perfectly foils the steaming cup of the sharp house oolong tea. So does the steamed chicken bun, a light, chewy item filled with ground chicken meat, ginger and herbs. 14825 Jeffrey Rd., Irvine, (949) 653-9988. $$

THE MELTING POT
At the Melting Pot, it's hard to eat a full meal, with dessert and drinks, without leaving at least a C-note behind, but the spent Franklin is worth it. Such a cost gets you a bowl of cheesy fondue, fine salad, French-influenced meat entrées, and a dessert that's flambeauxed in front of ya. 2646 Dupont Dr., Irvine, (949) 955-3242; www.meltingpot.com. $$$

WHOLESOME CHOICE
Wholesome Choice is the most diverse supermarket in Orange County—maybe Southern California—a garden of produce delights where Armenian cherry preserves, Polish kielbasa, Middle Eastern cream cheese, organic eggs and Tapatío exist within a three-aisle radius. But its greatest treat is the sangak, crispy Persian flatbread as crucial to Iranian identity as Rumi and about four feet in length. 18040 Culver Dr., Irvine, (949) 551-4111; www.wholesomechoice.com. $

LA HABRA

GREAT WALL MONGOLIAN BBQ
In a culinary tradition that varies little whether you're chopsticking through Mongolian barbecue in Ulan Bator or Utica, Great Wall differentiates itself by offering grub more fiery, more nuanced and a bit more bountiful than other charcuteries. Their daily lunch special is one of the most rewarding in the county—$4.50 for a bowl of Mongolian barbecue, along with a better-than-average egg roll, a thimble of fried rice that tastes vaguely Mexican and a small tureen of unctuous egg flower soup. 1261 Harbor Blvd., Ste. A, La Habra, (714) 680-3569. ¢

LA PALMA

PAESANO'S
You probably slap together half of Paesano's menu at least once a week for dinner: sauce-drenched entrées such as mostaccioli, spaghetti and lasagna that aren't so much Old World as they are Hoboken. So why bother visiting this 26-year-old eatery? Meatballs—lacy, herbed, delish. And subs. Good subs. 5440 Orangethorpe Ave., La Palma, (714) 521-4748. $

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 a lingual memory 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. ¢

DIZZ'S AS IS
The dishes here are by far some of the best food you'll ever eat in OC. Rack of lamb perfumed with rosemary melts on the tongue. Filet mignon is plump and full of seared-in flavor. 2794 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-5250. $$

GAURANGA'S VEGETARIAN CUISINE
Gauranga's has outdoor, ocean-view seating where you can enjoy a large salad bar, spicy yellow-lentil soup and cauliflower fritters. Sweet hibiscus tea is Krishna hooch, and cardamom-scented rice pudding is tasty too. 285 Legion St., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-7029.$

SAVOURY'S
Located in the La Casa del Camino Hotel in beautiful Laguna Beach, the restaurant is run by executive chef Brad Toles, captain of Team California in the International Culinary Olympics. He melds Asian and European cooking with a New Age flair. You can have your Brie and pad Thai here, and you'll like it. 1287 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 376-9716; www.savourys.com. $$$

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