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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

ORANGE

SHIKI
There are only two teppan tables at this modest place, but the chefs perform like kung-fu movie stars with a license to grill when they serve up tender chicken and steak with ginger, hot mustard and teriyaki sauces on the side. 1936 E. Katella Ave., Orange, (714) 633-1765. $$

TAQUERÍA MEXICO
Twenty-four hours a day every day, you can get a taco (and only tacos) with steak, barbecued pork, chicken, carnitas, beef tongue, beef head or beef brains for under a buck. It's like having a warm tortilla security blanket. 108 W. Katella Ave., Orange, (714) 538-5772. ¢

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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WATSON DRUGS AND SODA FOUNTAIN
Oldest drugstore (and probably diner) in OC—100 years and running. Real diner atmosphere, with counter dining and lots of burgers. Tom Hanks used it for That Thing You Do! Only place I know of where you can fill a Prozac prescription, buy Preparation H, eat a pastrami melt and read The New York Times in one sitting. 116 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 633-1050. $

PLACENTIA

Q TORTAS
Q's is unique because it's one of the few restaurants in la naranja exclusively devoted to the torta-making trade. And the local landmark, having been there for nearly a quarter-century, does not disappoint, turning out juicy monstrosities only slightly smaller than the King James Bible. 220 S. Bradford Ave., Placentia, (714) 993-3270. ¢

SAN CLEMENTE

MOLLY BLOOM'S IRISH BAR AND RESTAURANT
Molly Bloom's interior has the standard Irish pub features: low lighting, Guinness posters and bricks. Lots of bricks. Both bar and restaurant offer sizable menus featuring traditional Irish dishes such as fish and chips, bangers, and beans and mash (a surprisingly tasty combination of sausages, baked beans and mashed potatoes). 2391 S. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 218-0120. $$

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

CAFÉ MOZART
Café Mozart brews an impressive array of beers that ease its German-Austrian menu well down one's gullet. Bavarian bread dumplings—made of three different kinds of bread and flecked with bacon—come two per order, sit in a brown pool of wild mushrooms, and exhibit the luscious levity of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. 31952 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 496-0212; www.cafemozart.net. $$$

SANTA ANA

50 FORKS
50 Forks, the student-run restaurant of the Art Institute of California's Orange County campus, is the final test for the school's culinary arts students before they can graduate with a bachelor's degree, the classroom where years of theory and strategies get flambéed and presented to salivating, discriminating eaters who grade by pats to the gut and big tips. It's also one hell of a restaurant, with great, inventive platters, and it's more than affordable—probably the only place in the county where you can dine like Newport Beach at Santa Ana prices. 3601 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 429-0918. $$

CHINA OLIVE
One of the few Chinese buffets 'round town that won't wreak havoc on your porcelain throne. Good mix of Chinese-American dishes, from sweet orange chicken to a hybrid chow mein speckled with baby octopus, snow peas, onions and carrots. 3420 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 957-2688. $

GEORGE'S THAI BISTRO
Served with rice or noodles, George's food tastes, looks and smells so delicious your senses will beg you for return visits to this trippy little oasis. And if you've been a good boy, you can have some of the kiwi, mango or coconut ice cream. What's that? You don't like kiwi, mango or coconut, but you've still been a good boy? 3732 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 979-8366. $$

LOS PRIMOS MARISCOS
No red meat at this lonchera: Los Primos Mariscos makes seafood with a Nayarit twist. This means the freshness and sourness for which the coastal Mexican state's cuisine is famous reverberate from every plate. Most impressive is Los Primos Mariscos' ceviche: so many chunks of shrimp or fish are packed on the large tostada it's only a matter of time before the Santa Ana PD cites Los Primos Mariscos for overcrowding. On the corner of First and Hesperian sts., Santa Ana. ¢

EL RINCÓN CHILANGO
El Rincón Chilango in Santa Ana is Orange County's best re-creation of Mexico City, and not just because the street-side restaurant features the megalopolis' iconic Angel of Independence statue as its logo, nor because its marquee screams "100% D.F." Mexico City favorites are in order here: wonderful potato tacos with the shells fried until they shine like the Stanley Cup; supersyrupy sodas such as Jarritos and Boing; and the tlacoyo, a foot-long gordita bloated with earthy, bright-yellow fava beans and splattered with diced onions and a tangy green salsa on the outside—the heartiest meal you'll eat until Thanksgiving. 1133 W. 17th St., Santa Ana, (714) 836-5096. $

SEAL BEACH

NICK'S DELI
Nick Zampino has no evidence, no proof, no corroborating facts or photographs, but he swears he knows in his heart that his family originated that most delicious and conveniently held of early morning victuals: the breakfast burrito. After tasting these apotheoses, you'll be inclined to agree. 223 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 598-5072. ¢

STANTON

CAFÉ CLAIR
If white people go in here, they get glared at—it's an all-Korean clientele. But they have these really great $5 milkshakes—they're small, but so good. It's a little bit bigger than a shot glass, and we don't know what's in there, but they're very creamy. Go with an Asian friend, preferably a Korean, and preferably a Korean who speaks Korean. 12860 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 379-2575. $

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