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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

SOL GRILL
New Orleans feel, Mediterranean taste: the kung fu shrimp and blackened ahi are excellent, but the jambalaya over fettuccini will leave your innards glowing. 110 McFadden Place, Newport Beach, (949) 723-4105. $$

TACO ROSA
It's not just the wide swath of Mexico—Mexico City, Oaxaca, even the Yucatan—that makes Taco Rosa one of the few truly successful gourmet Mexican restaurants. Taco Rosa succeeds because its few tweaks are Mexican-based and surprising. Ask for the aguas frescas and instead of horchata, waiters will recommend a frosted, freshly squeezed cup of cantaloupe or melon—¡delicioso! 2632 San Miguel Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 720-0980. $$

ORANGE

Location Info

Map

La Casa de Fernando

2500 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Central American

Region: Anaheim

Foscari

5645 E. La Palma Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92807

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Anaheim

Matiki Island Barbeque

3070 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Hawaiian

Region: Anaheim

VICTORY BAKERY

949 S. Euclid St. Anaheim, CA
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Anaheim

Bismillah Halal Tandoori Restaurant

8901 Knott Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Buena Park

Gallo's Italian Deli

3900 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Corona Del Mar

La Cave

1695 Irvine Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Costa Mesa

Country Inn Garden Cafe

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

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Costa Mesa

Sushi Wave

2075 Newport Blvd., 108
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Sushi

Region: Costa Mesa

Taqueria El Granjenal

899 W. 19th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Costa Mesa

Zipangu

2930 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Fusion

Region: Costa Mesa

Irie Jamaican Restaurant

9062 Valley View St.
Cypress, CA 90630-5802

Category: Restaurant > Caribbean

Region: Cypress

FELIX CONTINENTAL CAFÉ
One of OC's finest Cuban joints. Lunches run more than $5, but you'd be foolish to nix the chicken embajador on the patio during a warm afternoon. This place is legendary, and it smells damn good, too. 36 Plaza Square, Orange, (714) 633-5842; www.felixcontinentalcafe.com. $$

PAPA HASSAN'S CAFÉ
Near Chapman University, this is easily one of OC's best Lebanese places. The lamb shawarma pita is an ungodly delicious bargain at $4.50. The almost-as-good falafel pita is $3.50. 421 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 633-3903. $

PLACENTIA

TONY'S LITTLE ITALY
The best lunchtime pizza is made at Tony's Little Italy: as thick as a Tom Clancy novel, the circumference of a basketball hoop. They also sell subs and such Italian-American classics as spaghetti, ravioli and mostaccioli, but the focus is on the pizza—it says so on their window. 1808 N. Placentia Ave., Ste. B, Placentia, (714) 528-2159; www.tonyslittleitaly.com. $

SAN CLEMENTE

SONNY'S PIZZA AND PASTA
Home of a monster marinara sauce that is nearly orgasmic. The sauce is ladled on to your choice of spaghetti, mostaccioli or rigatoni with Italian sausage or meatballs the size of your fist on a plate big enough to feed three. 429 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 498-2540; www.sonnys.com. $

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

TANNINS
Although the food menu isn't particularly extraordinary—an unimaginative, though tasteful, tour of northern and southern Italian favorites, with weekly chefs' menus of American fare like steaks and sesame-encrusted ahi passing for experimental—Tannins' wine execution and presentation make the place a must-dine. Sommelier Kijou Morris rotates the wine list every three months and scours the vineyards of the globe for pleasing brands. He even offers a cheat sheet for the ignorant—every entrée lists two wine recommendations. 27211 Ortega Hwy., Ste. C, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 218-3560; www.taninsrestaurant.com. $$

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 that it's not even listed in most Spanish dictionaries. 1221 E. First St., Ste. C, Santa Ana, (714) 834-9004. $

ROYAL KHYBER
The self-proclaimed "restaurant of the year" unabashedly serves upscale Indian cuisine in a setting more suited for coats and ties than T-shirts and jeans. The spicy chicken Madras features big chicken chunks 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. $$

TANGATA
You want to feel pampered and catered-to like a well-tended divorcee? Then you must dine where the socialites and divorcees dine: at your neighborhood museum. Tangata is the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art's restaurant, and it is exquisite and perfect in every way. Everything goes better with the citrus-based ponzu (that's the stuff they put on your salmon and halibut in the better sushi joints). 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 550-0906. $$$

WHOLE PITA GREEK ISLAND GRILLE
The Whole Pita's menu is simple—variations on gyros and salads, universal Mediterranean appetizers such as hummus and olives. But from this predictability emerges some of the finest Greek cuisine since the dearly departed Café Plaka. Pitas are Doric-big; the casseroles are hearty, meaty and teeming with layers of flavor. Remember to squirt in some fotia, the restaurant's hellish emerald-green hot sauce, but drink lots of water afterward—fire! 3940 S. Bristol St., Ste. 113, Santa Ana, (714) 708-3000. $

YOUNG'S MARKET
Certainly Young's—the county's only Polynesian market—has crates of coconuts, tons of taro and packets of poi (the taro-based paste similar to applesauce) galore. But items such as corned beef, pork bangers and breakfast biscuits are the true imperialists of Young's three aisles. See, the Polynesian palate is dominated by British faves. Because of this hospitality, county Polynesians have made Young's their piece of paradise. 12317 Westminster Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 554-0690. ¢

SEAL BEACH

COACHES
The décor amounts to tables, chairs, some pictures of Babe Ruth and a few TVs. But the fish and chips is English-styled: hot and slathered in tartar and chased down with a cold beer. 1025 Pacific Coast Hwy., Seal Beach, (562) 431-5266. $

SUNSET BEACH

HARBOR HOUSE CAFÉ
This 24-hour diner is a local institution that serves consistently good food. As it's incredibly popular with the late-night crowd, be prepared to wait for a table. 16341 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-5404; www.harborhousecafe.com. $

STANTON

PARK AVENUE
Gourmet American food in Stanton—who'da thunk it? The whole stuffed chicken, covered in pan drippings, is as fatty as a marbled pork chop, and stuffed with a whipped concoction of creamy mashed potatoes and spinach you couldn't pay us not to eat. 11200 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 901-4400; www.parkavedining.com. $$$

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