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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

TUSTIN

BLACK SHEEP BISTRO
For the superlative paella, a couple of days advance notice is needed, but for good reason. You won't find a more complex, beautifully presented or better tasting dish in OC. The scrumptious leftovers made for the 10 people in our party weighed at least a pound each. 303 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 544-6060; www.blacksheepbistro.com. $$

NAAN & KABOB
Naan & Kabob should be renamed Rice & Kabob, since the Tustin Persian eatery prepares the latter platter 36 different ways: Rice with lamb kabob; rice with fish kabob; rice with beef, chicken and shrimp kabob; rice with a type of falafel kabob. Redundant? No, regal. 416 E. First St., Tustin, (714) 66-KABOB. $

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

VILLA PARK

FIRST CLASS PIZZA
Go for the employee sampler which features four different pizzas, including the barbecue chicken, zesty Italian, Villa Park special with fresh basil and garlic, and the combo with pepperoni and sausage. 17853 Santiago Blvd., Ste. 101, Villa Park, (714) 998-2961. $

WESTMINSTER

CAJUN CORNER
Cajun Corner is the latest in a rash of Little Saigon restaurants that attract mostly young Vietnamese looking for Louisiana seafood favorites like crab and crawfish, beer, and a messy dinner—bibs and butcher paper on your table at Cajun Corner are gospel. The special is a whole Dungeness crab, brought out in a plastic bag heavy with chili rub, awaiting your cracking to reveal soft, buttery meat. 15430 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 775-7435. $$

PAGOLAC
Pagolac will show you another side of beef—seven, to be exact. "Bo 7 Mon," the restaurant sign's subtitle, is Vietnamese for seven courses of beef, the restaurant's specialty. Ungodly slabs of sirloin are transformed into wisps of flavor packed beef. 14580 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 531-4740. $$

KIM SU SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
A funky little place to eat lunch: traditional Chinese, great dim sum; but we usually go for lunch specials like sweet and sour pork, broccoli beef and kung pao chicken. Weeklings like this place because you can mix and share food so easily—and because we're cheap bastards. 10530 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 554-6261. $

LAZY DOG CAFÉ
The menu is either eclectic or scattershot depending on your point of view, with everything from pizza to kung pao. But there's no denying each entrée's inherent tastiness. The Shanghai tacos are quite the treat, coming in the form of a large bowl filled with chicken ground to the consistency of hamburger, stir fried with water chestnuts and shredded carrots and accompanied by a plate of iceberg lettuce leaves. 16310 Beach Blvd., Westminster, (714) 500-1140; www.thelazydogcafe.com. $$

SEAFOOD WORLD
Seafood World lives up to its name by wheeling out goodies like fried scallop rolls (large scallops in a flaky pastry served with mayo and a maraschino cherry!), crab and shrimp balls with peas (wrapped in rice paper) and very large, juicy and spicy deep fried shrimp. 15351 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 775-8828; www.seafoodworld.com. $$

YORBA LINDA

LA BETTOLA
Delicious focaccia and a ramekin of butter-soft roasted garlic cloves glistening in olive oil arrive at your table when you sit down. Next, try the classic caesar salad: a better courtship tool than a dozen roses. 18504 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda, (714) 695-0470. $$

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

ATHENS WEST
Many Greek restaurants offer French fries on their menu, but few treat them with the care you find at both Athens West locations. They fry long, skinny potato strips until golden and firm and then dust them heroically with—is it parsley I taste? Or oregano? The feta cheese on top is melted slightly, just enough to lend creaminess without producing a gooey disaster. Put some of Athens West's kebabs on top, and you have impromptu Greek chili billies. 7101 Yorktown Ave., Ste. 106, Huntington Beach, (714) 536-6112; also at 303 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-6500. $

BÁNH CUÔN HÔNG MAI
This chain of two near-closets in Garden Grove and Santa Ana offer most of their dishes—fragrant com tam, slippery bún and satisfying drinks—in 27 different fashions. But Hông Mai's ultimate specialty isn't numerology but rather the studious preparation of its namesake, the rice roll delicacy known as bánh cuôn: Silky, light, furtively filling and a good sponge for the accompanying fish sauce. The rice paper itself is a bit bland but that neutral flavor somehow amplifies a bánh cuôn's innards tenfold. 10912 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 534-4526; 5425 W. First St., Santa Ana, (714) 554-9190. ¢

BIRRIERIA Y PUPUSERIA JALISCO
Whether you order Mexican or Salvadoran food at Birrierías y Pupusería Jalisco, make sure to mix and match condiments, if only in the name of Latino solidarity. Add curtido (the Salvadoran slaw that accompanies pupusas) to Birrierías' bottle-sized burritos—enjoy the contrast between the garlicky, pickled curtido and the unspiced beans, rice and meat simplicity of the burrito. Spread the chilled, citrus-tinged house salsa on the pupusas to tweak the hearty appetizer. 404 N. Grand Ave., Ste. A, Santa Ana, (714) 836-4409; 17292 W. Mcfadden, Ste. D, Tustin, (714) 573-1586; 6999 E. Cerritos Ave., Stanton, (714) 826-3382; 2525 N. Grand Ave., Ste. A, Santa Ana, (714) 288-8931; 1212 S. Bristol Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 662-7400. $

EL CARBONERO
Owner María de Jesús Ramírez ensures that El Carbonero #1 and #2 use the same recipes of her hearty native cuisine, the primary reason why the county's pioneering guanaco restaurant persists while so many other Salvadoran restaurants disappear. Imitate the regulars and order at least one pupusa, the masa griddlecake that Salvadorans consume from crib to crypt. And El Carbonero's horchata, heavy with cinnamon and toasted rice, makes Mexican horchata taste like a Tijuana gutter. 803 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 542-6653. Also at 9516 W. Katella Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 520-0771. $

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