Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

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 griddle cake 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 9304 Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 527-4542. $

CEDAR CREEK INN
The various Cedar Creeks offer similar menus featuring prime rib, rack of lamb and homemade desserts. The Brie-and-pecan-stuffed chicken breast comes with a creamy pear-sage sauce that draws out the fine, nutty flavor of the pecans. The large butterflied scampi is served with capers and diced Roma tomatoes. And the pot roast is a tribute to hearty Midwest German-American cooking. 20 Pointe Dr., Brea, (714) 255-5600. Also at 26860 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, (949) 240-2229, and 384 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-8696; www.cedarcreekinn.com. $$

GYRO KING
It's a mighty gyro they spin at Gyro King: lamb and beef compressed into a hexagonal slab, twirled slowly on a spit so the meats meld into one another. When you order a gyro sandwich, a cook shaves lengths from this dense mass and lays them inside toasted pita bread alongside lettuce, tomatoes, onion and crumbles of feta cheese. Although the veggies are crispy, the feta salty and the requisite dash of tzatziki sauce creamy, the gyro's flavor remains bold: slightly spiced, soft but firm like licorice, with a dab of grease glistening on the dark skin that lends a fatty-sweet delight. 3601 Jamboree Rd., Ste. 4, Newport Beach, (949) 474-7300; 2626 Dupont Dr., Irvine, (949) 752-4976. $

Location Info

Map

La Langosta

408 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Anaheim

Beach Pit BBQ

1676 Tustin Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Costa Mesa

Hi-Time Wine Cellars

250 Ogle St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Wine Bar

Region: Costa Mesa

Cafe Hiro

10509 Valley View St.
Cypress, CA 90630

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Cypress

Ruben's Bakery

438 S. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832-2409

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Fullerton

Kaju Soft Tofu Restaurant

8895 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Garden Grove

Thuyen Vien

11080 Magnolia St.
Garden Grove, CA 92841

Category: Restaurant > Vegetarian

Region: Garden Grove

6ix Park Grill

17900 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92614

Category: Restaurant > California

Region: Irvine

Clay Oven Cuisine Of India

15435 Jeffrey Road, Ste 116
Irvine, CA 92618

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Irvine

Wholesome Choice

18040 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Irvine

Great Wall Mongolian BBQ

1261 S. Harbor Blvd.
La Habra, CA 90631-7536

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: La Habra

Ellen's Pinoy Grille

7971 Valley View St.
La Palma, CA 90623

Category: Restaurant > Filipino

Region: La Palma

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KNOWLWOOD
The place serves scrumptious one-third-pound burgers as big as your head. What else needs to be said? 150 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 879-7552. Also at 5665 E. La Palma Ave. Anaheim, (714) 779-2501; 14952 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, (949) 857-8927; 28061 Greenfield Dr., Laguna Niguel, (949) 831-1593; www.knowlwoodrestaurants.com. $

PASTA CONNECTION
If you haven't dined at this Italian-Argentine chain, you're at least familiar with its logo—a picture of a howling toddler with spaghetti dripping from his head, an Orange County advertising icon as beloved as Mickey Mouse or the Spanky's guy. As the name suggests, Pasta Connection likes to prepare pasta—silky fettuccines, blockish raviolis and lasagnas that look like a Bicycle pinochle deck. 1902 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 646-3484; 2145 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 541-0053; www.pastaconnection.net. $

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