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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

LAGUNA HILLS

SOLOMON'S BAKERY
At 3 a.m., when most Orange Countians are halfway through their slumber, Solomon Dueñas leaves Aliso Viejo and begins the 15 minute commute he's made nearly every morning to his Jewish bakery since 1987. Glass displays at Solomon's are clean, highlighting all the favorites of the Jewish pastry galaxy: stomach-stuffing babkas; fruity hamantaschen; crumbly rugelach available in chocolate, raspberry and apricot. Even better is a Dueñas original that he calls an apple-raisin bran: a block of caramelized flour so decadent that customers drive in from San Diego, and even Washington state, just for a sniff. 23020 Lake Forest Dr., Ste. 170, Laguna Hills, (949) 586-4718; www.solomonsbakery.com. $

LAGUNA NIGUEL

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

THAI DINING
Start with their tom kah gai soup, a creamy, flavorful offering of the popular Thai chicken and coconut soup; then try the beef panang. It rates pretty high on the beef panang scale—and it'll make you sweat. 28051 Greenfield Dr., Ste. J, Laguna Niguel, (949) 643-5521. $

LAKE FOREST

EL PARAÍSO
El Paraíso prepares sit-down platters: aromatic soups of chicken, beef or cow's foot with about four different squashes and potatoes, nicely grilled meats and yucca sancochada, a golden and chewy version of the tuber doused with lemon. But no matter who's ordering what or working where, everyone who comes to El Paraíso forks through at least two chewy sweet pupusas, the Salvadoran griddle cake that's the sole unifier of the fractious Central American nation. 25252 Jeronimo Rd., Ste. B, Lake Forest, (949) 770-2775. $

LONG BEACH

BABETTE'S FEAST
Babette's Feast is a boulangerie/patisserie par excellence, laying out a spread of delectable, mouth-watering delights that makes you thank heaven above for the gift of taste buds and these ungodly desserts. 4621 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 987-4536. $

BUBBA GUMP SHRIMP CO.
The inheritor to the dumb Forrest Gumpfranchise actually fries some good seafood—shrimp, steaks; fillets with stupid names. Guaranteed to please are the Shrimpin' Dippin' Broth, a half-pound of spicy steamed shrimp served with dippin' bread for dippin' and coleslaw, and Forrest's Shrimp Net Catch, a massive basket of beer-steamed shrimp served with garlic and Cajun sauces. Ignore the dumb names and stick to the food. 87 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, (562) 437-2434; www.bubbagump.com. $

LA CRÊPERIE CAFÉ
Someone once said, "Simplicity is the spice of life." Snicker all you want but they must have been referring to the Bolero crêpe at La Crêperie Café. This sorta-Provençal café offers perfection drenched in butter and sugar with a twist of lemon. C'est bon! 4911 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8499; www.lacreperiecafe.net. $$

LOS ALAMITOS

ISLAND GRILL
Island Grill sells Hawaiian food with a Japanese bent, so that means you can get your sushi and bento box fill along with sumptuous teriyaki bowls. But regardless of main course, your dessert should be the shaved ice: a frosty, chilled monolith flavored with fruit and so delicate you could whittle it down with dental floss. 4390 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 431-6496. $

MISSION VIEJO

MAYA INN
Ah, the chicken chimichanga: seasoned (but not molten), tender chicken in a deep-fried tortilla with ample salsa, guacamole and sour cream flying atop the thing like a Mexican flag on a submarine. Cheap! 25571 Jeronimo Rd., Ste. 8, Mission Viejo, (949) 768-0401. $

NEWPORT BEACH

GULFSTREAM
Yes, Gulfstream is big but you'll never be served an entrée that is outweighed by a power garnish, and no heaps-o'-chow that scream Claim Jumper, either. Proportions are just right, as is the wine list. Desserts aren't a big deal at Gulfstream, but they make a fabulous hot fudge sundae with candied pecans. 850 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 718-0188.$$$

HOAG HOSPITAL CAFETERIA
There are bagels and muffins and, a friend swears, "killer" breakfast burritos in the morning at Newport Beach's ritzy Hoag cafeteria. In the refrigerated case you can get a grilled chicken caesar salad or roast beef horseradish panini. Want sushi? They've got vegetarian rolls for $3.75 and spicy tuna cut rolls for $4.15. Newport Beach class at cafeteria prices. 1Hoag Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 645-8600. $

PAVILION
The clam chowder at Pavilion—a lump of something indistinguishable that turns into the most delicious clam chowder of your life, redolent of ginger and marine goodness—is an apt metaphor for Pavilion: showy to the point of ostentatious but with the substance to warrant the flash. Everything is expensive but damn worth it. 690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 760-4920. $$$

PESCADOU BISTRO
Despite its location—in a storefront across from Newport Beach City Hall—Pescadou manages to impart a south of France feel with vibrant colors and eclectic table settings. You'll find traditional French dishes—frog legs and coq au vin—as well as such bistro fare as rib-eye steak, bouillabaisse and a variety of fish dishes. 3325 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-6990; www.pescadoubistro.com. $$$

SPAGHETTI BENDER
A many-roomed space, the Spaghetti Bender is like a home with its dark carpets, tiny candles and flowery wallpaper. Their gnocchi, an Italian potato dumpling, is the industry standard for good. 6204 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 645-0651; www.spaghettibender.com. $$

ORANGE

CAFÉ LUCCA
Gourmet paninis are the jewels here, from hot soppresata and pepper studded mortadella glued together by provolone and luscious red pepper pesto to a chocolate rendition for the Waldorf set. But also content yourself with the wondrous gelatos: 16 separate flavors constructed daily with just water, sugar and fruit—no preservatives, chemicals or other artificial gunk. Each flavor not only tastes like its corresponding fruit but leaps onto the tongue: furious; refreshing; delicious. 106 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 289-1255; www.cafelucca.com. $$

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