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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

BODHI TREE VEGETARIAN CAFÉ
Deciding what to eat at Bodhi Tree—there are more than 100 mock-meat choices—involves the same deliberation needed for a koan. The tofu-drop soup, bobbing with meaty chunks of bean curd, bamboo shoots and cilantro, is free. Not free but worth the somewhat-pricey $3.50 is the chicken satay baguette sandwich full of faux fowl, tomatoes and so many julienned carrots it could be classified under the salad portion of the menu and mislead no one. 501 Main St., Ste. E, Huntington Beach, (714) 969-9500. $

LUCCI'S DELI AND MARKET
Lucci's offers more than 30 hot or cold sandwiches under $5, not counting the house specialty torpedoes that go for $2.99 and $5.25. There is pizza. There are the standard Italian dinners like spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna and eggplant, along with classics like linguine with clam sauce and fettuccine alfredo—all between $6 and $10. Lucci's does catering, too. They even bake wedding cakes. 8911 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 968-4466; www.luccisdeli.com. $$

PERUVIAN KITCHEN
The folks at Peruvian Kitchen don't dumb it down for the city's bros at all. In addition to their blackened 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. $

Location Info

Map

Cafe Casse Croute

656 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Anaheim

Native Foods

2937 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Costa Mesa

Dalton's Restaurant

9575 Valley View St.
Cypress, CA 90630

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Cypress

Harbor House Cafe

34157 Pacific Coast Highway
Dana Point, CA 92629

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Dana Point

Thai Rama

2500 E. Chapman Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92831

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Fullerton

Anna's Mondu

9972 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Garden Grove

Delicias de Mexico

13466 Harbor Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Garden Grove

Assal Pastry

14130 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92604

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Irvine

Bistango

19100 Von Karman Ave.
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Irvine

The Melting Pot Restaurant

2646 Dupont Drive
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Restaurant > French

Region: Irvine

Imperial Burgers

241 E. Imperial Highway
La Habra, CA 90631

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: La Habra

Casa Olamendi's

1100 S. Coast Highway, Ste. 202
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Laguna Beach

IRVINE

ASSAL PASTRY
Sholeh zard—a rice pudding brilliantly yellow and so peppery you'll find yourself gasping after eating it—is but one of the side dishes at Assal Pastry, a chic bakery in Irvine's Little Tehran enclave. The primary attraction here is cookies: dozens of just-baked trays that rely on different types of flour and infinite pistachio presentations rather than sugar for their sweetness. Purchase a pound of any cookie (cheap at $6), and Assal packages your order inside an emerald green box that gives Tiffany's jewelry container a run for its color. 14130 Culver Dr., Ste. H-1, Irvine, (949) 733-3262. $

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. $$$

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 Drive, 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

IMPERIAL BURGERS
Imperial Burgers serves many more things besides their Cheddar cheese-heavy pastrami burritos—their namesakes, for instance, charbroiled marriages of meat, soft bun, sweet cheese, girth and lettuce. Or standard breakfasts of pancakes, hash browns and sausage. And always sip on ultra-sweet Orange Bang whenever you find this increasingly rare beverage. Everything is good here, really. But La Habra is so far away, and the pastrami burrito is so good—why would you ever order anything else? 241 E. Imperial Hwy., La Habra, (714) 525-1611. $

LA PALMA

ELLEN'S PINOY GRILLE
Ellen's attracts as many non-Filipinos as pinoys, perhaps because Ellen's offers a menu—a list of all 70 entrées, 10 of them available at any time in the always-steaming turo-turo buffet. The daing na bangus (milkfish stew marinated with garlic and cucumbers and cooked in a searing coconut and soy sauce broth) is fabulous. 7971 Valley View St., La Palma, (714) 522-8866. $

LAGUNA BEACH

CASA OLAMENDI
Casa Olamendi's is the sort of place in which you ask for a balcony seat for a sunny lunch or come later and watch the sun sink into the sea over the two T's: tamales and tequila. Tamales typically arrive on a combo plate, served without the husk and covered with a little cheese, with good corn masa and delicious tender chicken chunks. 1100 S. Coast Hwy. Ste. 202, Laguna Beach (949) 497-4148. $$

CAFÉ ZOOLU
If you're into seafood, go for the jumbo-sized swordfish. Expect to empty your wallet or purse—but Café Zoolu is one of the few places in OC worth every penny. 860 Glenneyre St., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-6825. $$

ROMEO CUCINA
At Romeo Cucina in Laguna Beach the carpaccio appetizer—a large platter caked with carpaccio—is preposterously delightful and, at $11.95, a steal of a meal. Both shaved and chunky, the soft morsels are complemented with zingy lemon and capers, freshly shaved Parmesan, artichoke hearts and salad bits. Other Italian platters are excellent, but the carpaccio is like a beef-flavored Listerine strip for the gut. 249 Broadway, Laguna Beach, (949) 497-6627; www.romeocucina.com. $$

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