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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

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

DUKE'S
Everyone from surfers in damp trunks to families celebrating special occasions feels welcome at this restaurant inspired by the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific Rim. 317 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (714) 374-6446.$$

EAST COAST HOT DOGS
No tables inside—just counters and stools. No air conditioning—that's why there are two tables outside. There's a great Italian roast beef sandwich, a multi-folded pastrami, fries, onion rings and tater tots. But people line up five deep for the 11 hot dog varieties ranging from Chicago to chili-cheese to something called the Wow! Dog—a blackened kielbasa with sautéed onions and a thick schmear of gritty mustard worthy of its exclamatory name. 19092 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 378-0364. ¢

Location Info

Map

Sinbad Ranch

521 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Grocery

Region: Anaheim

Beach Cities Pizza

34473 St. of the Golden Lantern
Dana Point, CA 92629

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Dana Point

Kasen

9039 Garfield Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Sushi

Region: Fountain Valley

Hotbellies

1860 W. Orangethorpe Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92833-4406

Category: Restaurant > Dessert

Region: Fullerton

Hwang Hae Do BBQ

9448 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Garden Grove

East Coast Hot Dogs

19092 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Category: Restaurant > Hot Dogs

Region: Huntington Beach

Jimmy Z Grill

4517 Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Irvine

Chicken Box

330 E. Whittier Blvd.
La Habra, CA 90631

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: La Habra

Johnie's JR. Burgers

7811 Valley View St.
La Palma, CA 90623

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: La Palma

Kakh and Palace Bakery

24751 Alicia Parkway, Ste. D
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Laguna Hills

Zinc Cafe & Market

350 Ocean Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Laguna Beach

Empanada Man

20761 Lake Forest Drive
Lake Forest, CA 92630

Category: Restaurant > South American

Region: Lake Forest

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IRVINE

CHAKRA
One can imagine Bollywood goddess Aishwarya Rai filming some steamy yet chaste dance scenes inside the confines of Chakra's opulent set. But Chakra owners Ravi and Sunita Koneru have thankfully invested their money not only in the lush décor but in hiring chefs capable taking you on a trek through India's major foodie provinces not found in any other Orange County restaurant—Gujarat, Kerala and even Hyderabad. 4143 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 854-0009; www.chakracuisine.com. $$

DIHO BAKERY
The Japanese are the creators of nikuman, the world's cutest sandwich, which consists of a candied spongy flour wrapped around gingered meats and vegetables. At Diho Bakery, nikuman-type sandwiches are elevated to an art form on par with calligraphy. The taro is a particularly pleasant surprise—not your tiki party's dull, watery poi paste but instead a jam waiting to be copyrighted by See's. 14130 Culver Dr., Ste. J, Irvine, (949) 857-6415. $

JIMMY Z GRILL
Don't be scared by the fact that the menu cover reads, "Jimmy Z Grill.com." Jimmy Z Grill is the hottest non-chain restaurant in Irvine, and Jimmy Z is a really nice guy. But that's not all—his menu is chock-full of delicious eats. 4517 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 737-6700. $$

LA HABRA

CHICKEN BOX
A tiny room that always seems packed, Chicken Box fries up all the bird parts you'd expect with just enough grease to keep things tasty, as well as ribs, batter-fried fish and reasonably healthy stuff like salads. And you gotta love a place that sells boysenberry punch—a super-tart, purple elixir probably mixed nowadays only at one other concern, Knott's Berry Farm, and then probably only as a tourist curio. 330 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 691-1701. $

LA PALMA

JOHNIE'S JR. BURGERS
It's ham, cheese, onions and green peppers—hold the nonsense—stuffed into a three-egg pillowcase and presented alongside a nest of crispy, lush hashed-brown potatoes and two slices of sourdough toast, gobbled down between a couple of cups of coffee. It's nothing fancy, which means it fits right in at this converted Taco Bell, with its decals of the Fat Boy (a too-close-for-comfort cousin of the late Big Boy) plastered across every table at every booth. 7811 Valley View St., La Palma, (714) 228-0464. $

LAGUNA, LAGUNA, LAGUNA!

THE COTTAGE
What's the secret of this Laguna Beach restaurant's decades of success? Good food and lots of it, comfy chairs and friendly service, charming framed photographs of Laguna's original greeter and a full, sated belly every time you leave. 308 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-3023; www.thecottagerestaurant.com. $

MOZAMBIQUE
It advertises itself as a South African restaurant but Mozambique excels in its preparation of meat—pork chops, steaks, seafood and the great Durban curry, a dusky lamb dish that will warm you up wherever you are. 1740 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 715-7100; www.mozambiqueoc.com. $$

ONAMI SUSHI & SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Here, you can partake of as much sushi as you want. You can gobble down transparent globules of ikura (salmon roe) like popcorn or tiny particles of masago (smelt egg) as if they're, well, tiny particles of masago. 24155 Laguna Hills Mall, Ste. 1300, Laguna Hills, (949) 768-0500; www.o-nami.com. $$

PALACE BAKERY
Palace Bakery is the county's second shop to specialize in Persian desserts, a sweet tooth tradition similar to Arabic pastries in their sumptuousness but exhibiting bolder flavors. You shouldn't let the yen for the new prevent you from ordering the Middle Eastern pastries. Palace's baklava is sweeter than what they hawk in Anaheim's Little Arabia—splashed with more rosewater and honey, the phyllo dough is tougher and rolled around a dense almond filling, resembling a miniature cigar. And every boxed purchase comes with a cool golden sticker! 24751 Alicia Pkwy., Ste. D, Laguna Hills, (949) 768-6252. ¢

THAI BROS.
Nestled in a small building next to the library, the "bros" are open till 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Their tom kha soup has a rich broth exploding with lemongrass and coconut milk—warm, medicinal and just the way Mother would have made it had she belonged to some kind of weird midnight fraternity from Siam. 238 Laguna Ave., Laguna Beach, (949) 376-9979. $

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