Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

DANA POINT

MEGA BURGERS
You can't accuse this joint, located quite obviously in a former KFC, of false advertising. Their trademark is the mega mega burger, a cake-sized burger, served in slices, that is the equivalent of eight hamburgers. Note: if you think a mega mega burger sounds like an eat-alone kind of meal, do yourself a favor—take a good look in the mirror and have your cholesterol checked first. 34122 Pacific Coast Hwy., Dana Point, (949) 488-0849. $

DIAMOND BAR

Location Info

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Ara's Pastry

2227 W. Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Anaheim

Sweet Jill's

123 Main St.
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Seal Beach

Stubrik's Steakhouse & Bar

118 E. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Fullerton

Steer Inn

801 S. Tustin Ave.
Orange, CA 92866

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Orange

Steer Inn

801 S. Tustin Ave.
Orange, CA 92866

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Orange

Santa Monica Seafood Co.

154 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Costa Mesa

Knowlwood

150 S. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Fullerton

Cedar Creek Inn

20 Pointe Drive
Brea, CA 92821

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Brea

El Carbonero

803 S. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Restaurant > Central American

Region: Santa Ana

Athens West

7101 W. Yorktown Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Huntington Beach

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ASIAN DELI
Asian Deli operated for years from a hectic Orange strip mall, a spotless Indonesian dive where patrons happily munched on vast rice dishes that resembled hail flurries along with satay skewers of sweet, spicy and smoky savors. Now based in Diamond Bar, it still saunters through the Indonesian cookbook—one of the world's most deliciously anarchic due to the country's archipelagic nature and position between various trade routes—as if bankrolled by President Megawati Sukarnoputri. 23545 Palomino Dr., Ste. F, Diamond Bar, (909) 861-1427; www.asian-deli.com. $

FOUNTAIN VALLEY

MEL'S DINER
When you want to throw caloric caution to the wind, there's no beating Mel's. The cooking is home-style, the portions huge and the waitresses friendly. Other than a hot cuppa joe (yep, that's here, too), what more do you want? You'd be a knucklehead to leave without ordering the hubcap-sized, homemade cinnamon rolls topped with generous dollops of pure melted butter (served weekends only). 9430 Warner Ave., Ste. 1, Fountain Valley, (714) 963-2662. ¢

FULLERTON

MONKEY BUSINESS CAFÉ
This small restaurant, run by the young male wards of the nonprofit Hart Community Homes, is Dickens by way of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. As heartwarming as Monkey Business' story may be, none of it would matter much to foodies if the sandwiches weren't great: constructed with the care and elegance of a panini store but at half the cost. 301 E. Amerige, Fullerton, (714) 526-2933. $

ROMAN CUCINA
There's nothing pretentious or nouveau about the service or cuisine, no-nonsense Italian fare based on three kinds of pasta: fettuccine, linguine and penne. And you won't find veal, lamb, rabbit, or anything else too far off the main Italian grub drag—pasta, beef and pork make Roman Cucina the simplest, most delicious Italian since Sonny Corleone. 211 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 680-6000; www.romancucina.com. $$

RUBEN'S BAKERY
There's about a dozen coolers of pan dulces at Ruben's, each containing multiple trays holding a specific pan dulce genus, each genus boasting mucho diversity, and so forth. Stock up on empanadas, turnovers gorged with fillings and adorned with unique crusts. The camote empanada houses its sweet yam innards within a firm, buttery crust; the same crust also gives refuge to fillings of the lemon and cream variety. 438 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 992-0414. ¢

GARDEN GROVE

ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF ORANGE COUNTY
During Ramadan, Fatima Rahman (known to all as Auntie Fatima) lords over the best religious-minded buffet in the county at Orange County's largest mosque, preparing $2 Styrofoam cartons of delicious Indian food and the stray baklava. The rest of the year, Auntie Fatima prepares it only during Friday services. Some of the tastiest Indian food around—and no faith in Allah required! 1 Al-Rahman Plaza, Garden Grove, (714) 531-1722. $

KEKO'S FOODS
Keko's Foods is the only mass American distributor of alfajores, the Argentine shortbread cookies filled with chocolate or quince. They specialize in the Marplatenses type of alfajor, offering two flavors: two varieties: cocoa cookie alfajor covered in chocolate and vanilla cookie alfajor covered in white chocolate. To place an order, visit www.kekosfoods.com. $

THUYEN VIEN
Since it opened in 2002, Thuyen Vien has attracted eaters not just because it seamlessly replicates all its meats with soy, but because it also nails the complex flavors of Vietnamese cuisine in a way few other Vietnamese vegetarian restaurants can. The curry soy "chicken," a lovely stew of coconut broth, chile oil, potatoes, onions, tofu and fake chicken, is bueno. 11080 Magnolia St., Garden Grove, (714) 638-8189. $

HUNTINGTON BEACH

BREWBAKERS
Part fraternity, part bakery, part miniature brewery, Brewbakers is as much a bonding experience as an eating establishment, a gustatory amusement park in the midst of chain-heavy Huntington Beach. While the personal beer-making process is the main attraction, owner Dennis Midden maintains that baking is his first love, and a chomp through his pretzels—chewy loops with a perfect crustiness and enough salt to enhance the taste but not cover it—confirms it. 7242 Heil Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 596-5506; www.brewbakers1.com. $$

LOTUS CHINESE EATERY
Lotus is the county's second Chinese Muslim restaurant and does a fine job of preparing that cuisine's emphasis on meat, magazine-thick noodles, and sesame breads large enough to double as a Frisbee. Like almost every northern Chinese restaurant, Lotus trots out so-so egg rolls and egg-flower soup as appetizers, so it's better to start with chilled ox tripe. 16883 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, (714) 848-4940. $$

MANGIA MANGIA
If you've sworn off beef and pork but still eat birds, Huntington Beach's venerable Mangia Mangia is your kinda place. For nearly 20 years, Sicilian-born brothers Giuseppe and Pietro Cefalu have served herds of veal, poured vats of meat sauce over their homemade pasta, and earned a solid rep for fresh seafood, calamari fritti and outta-this-world eggplant dishes. But the house specialty remains their chicken "Mangia Mangia," An ample chicken breast beaten flat is sautéed with ginger, shallots, asparagus and red bell peppers in white wine to produce a near-breaded, scaloppini effect, with veggies, spice and vino then spooned over the bird. 16079 Goldenwest St., Huntington Beach, (714) 841-8887; www.mangiamangiarestaurant.com. $$

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