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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

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

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

SURFIN' CHICKEN
José "El Cuatro" Martínez's method of preparing chicken is as miraculous as Mass. He soaks his hens in lemon butter before slapping them onto the open fire grill. Then he shakes tremendous amounts of chile powder on top and grills them until crisp. The lemon and powder fuses to the chicken, seeping through the tender meat all the way to the bone. The result is mysterious: soft, slightly smoky and exuding a sour/spicy crackle that's nearly radioactive. 71 Via Pico Plaza, San Clemente, (949) 498-6603. $

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

SEÑOR PEDRO'S TACOS
Located across from the San Juan Capistrano Mission, the restaurant leaves one question in your mind: Did Pedro build a taco stand by the mission or did the mission settle down next to Pedro's? Your food will arrive in a time period best measured in geologic terms but the tamales are damn good. You'll swear each one was schlepped across the border by burro. 31721 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 489-7752. $

SANTA ANA

NANCY PUEBLA RESTAURANT
Lurking within this seemingly mundane Mexican restaurant are delicious, complex rarities from the central state of Puebla, platters more familiar to an ethnography than an Orange County menu—dense mole poblano, pale goat menudo and guilotas, a chewy type of quail so region-specific it's not even listed in most Spanish dictionaries. 1221 E. First St., Ste. C, Santa Ana, (714) 834-9004. $

NEW PANDA CHINESE FOOD
Combo C: fried rice, chow mein and any three items. God love 'em, they'll most likely give you four, just for the hell of it. And all for, like, $5. If you can beat that, you must be in China. 3814 S. Bristol St., Ste. B, Santa Ana, (714) 540-2238. ¢

NEWPORT SEAFOOD CHINESE RESTAURANT
Lobster lovers come from all over for these crustaceans, heavily doused with pepper that could take you to spice heaven. And they come with dessert, including green beans and ice cold oranges, which balances the meal out nicely. 4411 W. 1st St., Santa Ana, (714) 531-5146. $$$

ROYAL KHYBER
The self-proclaimed "restaurant of the year" unabashedly serves upscale Indian cuisine in a setting more suited for a coat and tie than T-shirts and jeans. The spicy chicken Madras features big chunks of chicken and sliced tomatoes buried in a potent curry highlighted by freshly ground black pepper. It torches. 1621 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 436-1010; www.royalkhyber.com. $$

TIKAL TIENDA Y RESTAURANTE
All the mainstays of the Guatemalan diet are available at the county's only Guatemalan produce store—pork, chicken or chipilín (mint) tamales wrapped in banana leaves, the equivalent of corn Jell-O, and chile rellenos stuffed with carrots, onions, potatoes and ground beef. Tikal truly excels in the soup business, though. Foremost among the broths is hilacha, a brick red boiling stew sharp with tomato, shredded beef strands and about three different squashes bobbing in slow circles. 1002 E. 17th St., Santa Ana. (714) 973-8547. ¢

SEAL BEACH

SHORE HOUSE CAFÉ
Encyclopedic menu on which just about everything is good and served in Flintstone-sized portions. 941 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Seal Beach, (562) 430-0116. $$

SUNSET BEACH

CAPTAIN JACK'S
Opened June 25, 1965, this steak and seafood restaurant supposedly serves 53,000 pounds of Alaskan king crab per year—more than any other restaurant in the U.S—and prides itself on consistent quality and hearty portions. The bar is one of the few that still uses the "Super Well," meaning that if you order gin you get Bombay, and if you order vodka you get Absolut. 16812 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-2514. $$

STANTON

THE GOLDEN STEER
The Golden Steer is what a family restaurant used to be—not just inexpensive enough to feed a family, but tasty and wholesome enough to feed it well. It also harks back to a time when a family meal meant meat, meat, meat. The place is crowded but good acoustics keep it from sounding like a mess hall, and incredible service keeps that growl in your stomach from turning into a bad mood. 11052 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 894-1208; www.goldensteer.com. $$

TUSTIN

NOODLE AVENUE
Noodles. Lots of 'em. Thin. Thick. Stir-fried. In soup. Yellow. White. Thai. Vietnamese. Japanese. Welcome to Noodle Avenue, a hectic fast-food Tustin eatery that fuses various Asian noodle traditions into heaps and heaps of long, luscious strands. 13816 Red Hill Ave., Tustin, (714) 505-9070; www.noodleavenue.com. $$

PHILLY'S FAMOUS CHEESESTEAK
Though smaller than the monsters hawked at John's Philly Grille in Anaheim or Costa Mesa's Frank's Philadelphia, Philly's Famous' cheesesteak surpasses the two in the most crucial cheesesteak factor: the cheese. It overwhelms your senses like a good cheese should, like the best quesadillas: sharp, comforting, gooey. The cheesy cheese choice marries Cheez Whiz, American white and provolone into a tasty, wonderful triad, each fromage strong and distinct. And despite the dairy onslaught the beef's savor doesn't wilt, remaining juicy like the finest shawermas. 648 E. First St., Tustin, (714) 505-6067. $

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