Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide



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. $

Location Info


Monkey Business Cafe

301 E. Amerige Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832

Category: Restaurant > Eclectic

Region: Fullerton

Mangia Mangia

16079 Goldenwest St.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Huntington Beach

Claes Restaurant

425 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Laguna Beach

Santora's Pizza Subs & Wings

28251 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

Category: Restaurant > Hot Chicken

Region: Mission Viejo

Lido Shipyard Sausage Company

251 Shipyard Way
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Newport Beach

Sabatino's Chicago Sausage

251 Shipyard Way
Newport Beach, CA 92663-4464

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Newport Beach

Cha Thai

1520 W. Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92868

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Orange

Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen

141 S. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92856

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Orange


1210 E. Yorba Linda Blvd.
Placentia, CA 92870

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Placentia

Nancy Puebla Restaurant

1221 E. First St., Ste. C
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Santa Ana


1400 Pacific Coast Highway
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Category: Music Venues

Region: Seal Beach

Dosa Place

13812 Red Hill Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780

Category: Restaurant > Buffet

Region: Tustin



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 Avenida Victoria, San Clemente, (949) 429-1800; $$$



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; $$$



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. $


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' top is low. 515 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 541-0350. $$


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. $


Here is a bar where the food is actually good—chicken bites, breaded with butter crumbs and accompanied with a 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. $$


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 and Birch, Santa Ana;



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. $$$



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; $$


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. $$



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; $

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