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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

VILLA PARK

FIRST CLASS PIZZA
Go for the employee sampler, which features four different pizzas: the barbecue chicken, the zesty Italian, the 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

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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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PEKING RESTAURANT
The jellyfish salad is quite tasty and if you think of it as Chinese pasta you won't squirm. The family dinners are fabulous with interesting choices, including an entire steamed fish. 8566 Westminster Ave., Westminster, (714) 893-3020. $$

PHO HOA
When fate or a bad date takes you to Little Saigon in the early morning, stop by this 24-hour dive and feast on a steaming, massive bowl of pho. The touted pho hoa is great—not the best you'll ever taste, but with the largest, softest steak slices: massive cuts almost as big as poker cards and chopped just as thin. 9211 Bolsa Ave., Ste. 101, Westminster, (714) 899-4886; www.phohoa.com. $

SAIGON BISTRO
With an interior seemingly boxed up and mailed from fin-de-siècle Paris, the distinctly cosmopolitan appearance of the restaurant carries over into the song selections (we hear English-, Spanish- and Vietnamese-language tunes) and the menu, which includes escargot, flan and Vietnamese offerings. 15470 Magnolia St., Westminster, (714) 895-2120. $$

THANH MY
Westminster's Thanh My offers not just a palate-expanding, belt-popping introduction to Vietnamese cuisine but a veritable graduate course in it. With nearly 200 menu items, you could eat here for months without repeating a meal. 9553 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 531-9540. $$

YORBA LINDA

THE WILD ARTICHOKE
While the restaurant's motto, "Food prepared from the heart, with the soul in mind," is cumbersome (it's like a New Age math problem), all of chef/owner James D'Aquila's culinary creations are fabulous, simply fabulous. Stick to the artichokes—either the simple Wild Artichoke salad tossed with various vegetables and sprinkled with bitter balsamic vinaigrette or the Artichoke Napoleon, a puff pastry in which sautéed artichokes assume the luxuriousness of truffles. 4973-A Yorba Ranch Rd., Yorba Linda, (714) 777-9646; www.thewildartichoke.com. $$$

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

ATHENS WEST
Many Greek restaurants offer French fries on their menus but few treat them with the care you find at both Athens West locations. They fry long, skinny potato strips until golden and firm, then dust them heroically with—is it parsley I taste? Oregano? And the feta cheese on top is melted slightly, just enough to lend creaminess but without the 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; 303 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 431-6500; www.athenswest.com. $

BÁNH CUÔN HÔNG MAI
This chain of two near-closets in Garden Grove and Santa Ana offers most of its 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 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. ¢

CLARO'S ITALIAN MARKET
Claro's is a fourth-generation family business with a passion for food as big as the 600-pound loaves of provolone it's known to display during winter. Besides a huge selection of imported groceries, Claro's houses a stellar deli and bakery. 1095 E. Main St., Tustin, (714) 832-3081; 101 W. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (562) 690-2844; www.claros.com. $

THE DAILY GRILL
This is where you can learn to love the Cobb salad, an orchestrated event of chicken, tomatoes, avocado, bacon, blue cheese, scallions, egg, and romaine and iceberg lettuce mixed in a creamy Italian dressing. Also, American comfort food—don't miss the meatloaf—prepared at its highest level. 957 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 644-2223; 2636 Dupont Dr., Irvine, (949) 474-2223; www.dailygrill.com. $$

THE GREAT DANE BAKING COMPANY
Owned by Dane Jodi Pedersen and her husband, Keld Pedersen, the bakery specializes in Scandinavian pastries, bread and cakes. Besides items coated with marzipan, try their superb soft cardamom rolls. 6855 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 842-1130; 11196 Los Alamitos Blvd, Los Alamitos, (562) 493-6899; www.greatdanebakery.com. $

JOHNNY REBS' SOUTHERN ROADHOUSE
With plastic flamingos and a stuffed catfish wall trophy the size of a walrus, a meal at Johnny Rebs' is like a trip down South. Delight in the Yankee cheese grits and fried green tomatoes but don't forget to try the catfish. 4663 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 423-7327; 2940 E. Chapman, Orange, (714) 633-3369; www.johnnyrebs.com. $

LEE'S SANDWICHES
Based out of San Jose, the shop specializes in bánh mì, the Vietnamese sandwich that is an appetizing post-colonial amalgamation. While the always-endless lines seem imposing, Lee's service is so outstanding that you'll quickly be savoring one of the most outlandish deals in the world: $1.50 for a huge, nine-inch, delicious sandwich. 9261 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 901-5788; 13991 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, (714) 636-2288; 1028 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 525-2989; 4127 Campus Dr., Irvine, 949-509-9299; www.leessandwiches.com. friggin' ¢

ROMA D'ITALIA
If you want spaghetti and meat sauce accompanied by Chianti in a straw-bound bottle, you're in the right place; the Dominic Corea family has been operating this colorful red sauce joint in Tustin since 1961. 611 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 544-0273; 25606 Crown Valley Pkwy., Ladero Ranch, (949) 276-5712. $$

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