Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

PLACENTIA

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

SAN CLEMENTE

Location Info

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Thuyen Vien

11080 Magnolia St.
Garden Grove, CA 92841

Category: Restaurant > Vegetarian

Region: Garden Grove

Claes Restaurant

425 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Laguna Beach

Thai Dining

28051 Greenfield Drive, Ste. J
Laguna Beach, CA 92677

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Laguna Niguel

Ami Sushi

1804 N. Tustin Ave., Ste. C
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Santa Ana

First Class Pizza

17853 Santiago Blvd., 101
Villa Park, CA 92861

Category: Restaurant > Pizza

Region: Villa Park

Cajun Islands

15430 Brookhurst St.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Cajun

Region: Westminster

Duong Son BBQ

9211 Bolsa Ave., Ste. 115
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Westminster

Pagolac Restaurant

15470 Magnolia St.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Westminster

Kim Su Seafood Restaurant

10530 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Westminster

Lua Bistrot

9892 Westminster Ave.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Garden Grove

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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

LA FONDUE
The closest Orange County comes to the decadent Roman banquets of the past is at La Fondue in San Juan Capistrano. This is where fondue, the art of dunking various foodstuffs in a pot boiling with flavorful goo, will leave your senses overwhelmed, your insides bloated and your life on hold for a couple of postprandial hours. 31761 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 240-0300; www.lafonduerestaurant.com. $$$

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. $

PROOF
Here is a bar where the food is actually good—chicken bites, breaded with butter crumbs and accompanied by sa sweet-sour Thai sauce; pickled cucumber and carrots; and other appetizers from the next-door Pangea. Stay clear of the Proof martini unless you want to spend the next day in hung-over bliss. 215 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 953-2660. $$

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.

SEAL BEACH

MAHE
Mahe offers a delicious meeting of sushi and meat as God and Stewart Anderson, in their mercy, intended. Besides the raw atuff, the house special is the filet mignon stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon. Kill you? Sure. But it tastes damn good. 1400 Pacific Coast Hwy., Seal Beach, (562) 431-3022. $$$

STANTON

THE GOLDEN STEER
The Golden Steer is what a family restaurant used to be—not just inexpensive enough to feed a family, but tasty and wholesome enough to feed it well. It also harks back to the time when a family meal meant meat-meat-meat. The place is crowded, but good acoustics keep it from sounding like a mess hall and incredible service keeps that growl in your stomach from turning into a bad mood. 11052 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 894-1208; www.goldensteer.com. $$

SUNSET BEACH

CAPTAIN JACK'S
Opened June 25, 1965, this steak and seafood restaurant supposedly serves 53,000 pounds of Alaskan king crab per year—more than any other restaurant in the U.S. It prides itself on consistent quality and hearty portions. The bar is one of the few that still use the "Super Well," meaning that if you order gin, you get Bombay, and if you order vodka, you get Absolut. 16812 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-2514. $$

TUSTIN

DOSA PLACE
There are so many dosas at Dosa Place—dosas crammed with goat, stuffed with cheese, oozing with curried potatoes—you'll probably overlook the rest of the platters. Don't. Once in a while, scan over the South India portion of the menu and devote a lunch to the idli, two rice-flour dumplings touched with a molten chile powder, or an uttapam, a flour Frisbee the menu advertises as a pancake but is really more of a veggie-gorged omelete. 13812 Redhill Ave., Tustin, (714) 505-7777; www.dosaplace.com. $

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