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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

MULDOON'S
The perfect fish-and-chips search ends here. Five pieces of fresh red snapper are piled atop skin-on shoestring fries made from real potatoes. The batter on the fish is golden and puffy, like fried cumulus clouds. And the Irish soda bread will make you a regular. 202 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-4110. $$

ROY'S
Roy's is all about Hawaii—from the "Aloha" you get when you come in the door and the Israel Kamakawiwo'ole playing over the speakers to the blah, blah, blah about Tokyo-born founder Roy Yamaguchi, whose childhood visits to Maui, we're told, indelibly shaped his palate (and his palette). Whatever: Yamaguchi has been fusing ever since, and with great success; he is now the Wolfgang Puck of some 31 namesake restaurants in North America with entrées such as rib-eye or wild Scottish salmon. 453 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-7697. $$$

ORANGE

Location Info

Map

La Langosta

408 S. Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Anaheim

Rasthal Vegetarian Cuisine

2751-2755 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Anaheim

Gulfstream

850 Avocado Ave.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Newport Beach

CARNICERÍA EL CAMPEÓN

31921 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Category: Restaurant > Grocery

Region: San Juan Capistrano

New Panda Chinese Food

3814 S. Bristol St., Ste. B
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Santa Ana

Mahe

1400 Pacific Coast Highway
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Category: Music Venues

Region: Seal Beach

Pagolac Restaurant

15470 Magnolia St.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Westminster

Gyro King

3601 Jamboree Road
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Newport Beach

Gyro King

2222 Michelson Dr
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Irvine

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CAFÉ LUCCA
Gourmet paninis are the jewels here, from hot sopresata and pepper-studded mortadella glued together by provolone and luscious red pepper pesto to a chocolate rendition for the Waldorf set. But also content yourself with the wondrous gelati: 16 separate flavors constructed daily with just water, sugar and fruit—no preservatives, chemicals or other artificial gunk. Each flavor not only tastes like its corresponding fruit but leaps onto the tongue: furious, refreshing, delicious. 106 N. Glassell St., Orange, (714) 289-1255; www.cafelucca.com. $$

CHA THAI
The yellow curry selection is optimal for those who sport the same color on their bellies, so be brave and step up a spice level to the red curry. Its marvelous mixture of bamboo shoots, bell peppers and coconut milk will give you the sensation of having had sex for two hours in a sauna. 1520 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 978-3905. $

WATSON DRUGS AND SODA FOUNTAIN
Oldest drugstore (and probably diner) in OC—100 years and running. Real diner atmosphere, with counter dining and lots of burgers. Tom Hanks used it for That Thing You Do! Only place I know of where you can fill a Prozac prescription, buy Preparation H, eat a pastrami melt and read The New York Times in one sitting. 116 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 633-1050. $

PLACENTIA

MINI-GOURMET
The Mini-Gourmet is a Placentia strip-mall diner where adults wear T-shirts proclaiming allegiance to the football squad at nearby El Dorado High while sipping coffee alongside no-frill omelets. The Ortega omelet is all about the mild chile, ripe tomatoes and liquefied cheese awaiting its scraping up with toast. 1210 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., Placentia, (714) 524-1611. $

SAN CLEMENTE

WHITE HORSES
At the bottom of Avenida Victoria, below a bed-and-breakfast and a short jaunt from the ocean, stands this stunning, cozy bistro, named for what the British call foam-crested waves. Every six weeks or so, owners Mark and Aileen Norris redesign everything. Menu. House breads. Appetizers. Everything. There's only one constant at White Horses, and that's that the Norrises are consistently spectacular in their epicurean experiments, as dependably memorable and adventurous as riding Trestles. 610 Ave. Victoria, San Clemente, (949) 429-1800; www.whitehorses.us. $$$

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

CARNICERÍA EL CAMPEÓN
All things being equal, we find that the less we comprehend of a menu, the higher the odds we're going to get authentic food. "Tamale" at Carnicería El Campeón was arranged on the menu near some other foods that only a Mexican mama could recognize. Unlike the other joints, their tamales are unencumbered by frills. It is a Bauhaus dish: cornhusk, moist masa, chicken. 31921 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 240-3141. ¢

SANTA ANA

AMI SUSHI
Ami Sushi is the perfect Japanese restaurant: efficient during lunch, stately enough for a date, staffed with serious chefs who can wow you with off-the-menu stunners (ask for the wrap that looks like a burrito) or a simple crunchy roll. The Sunset Action is a California roll topped with albacore, the fatty fish melding nicely with the light crabmeat. 1804 N. Tustin Ave, Ste. C, Santa Ana, (714) 567-0018. $

MARISCOS LA SIRENA
This little palace serves caldo de caguama (turtle soup) but also represents its own endangered genus—the restaurant whose métier is stunning Sinaloan-type Mexican food with a side of stereotypes—blistering aguachile with wooden parrots, nuclear ceviche served under drooping nets, and deer steaks that are almost as tender as each waitress's top is low. 515. S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 541-0350. $$

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. $

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. ¢

SANTA ANA FARMER'S MARKET
This Wednesday-afternoon farmer's market is standard save for its bacon-wrapped hot dogs, the stuff of after-concert Los Angeles curbside vendor legend. Preparation is simple: Father grabs an all-beef hot dog and wraps it with strips of pale bacon as if it were gauze on an injured thigh. Son slaps the coiled wiener on the grill, where the bacon begins to fry. Sizzle. The fat of the bacon seeps into the hot dog, which plumps quickly, while the bacon burns until it's black and crispy. Every Wednesday on the corner of Third & Birch, Santa Ana; www.grainproject.org.

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