Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

SMOKIN' MO'S

A tour of barbecue traditions within the confines of a gleaming Surf City development, Smokin' Mo's redeems the red states from which it pulls its stuff. Tennessee shines with vinegary, massive, great pork ribs; Louisiana appears with hot links that please like a boat ride through the bayou. Better than that, we love its pig mascot—wide-eyed, holding a massive wooden spoon, grinning at the thought of eating its brethren, the happiest cannibal since that weird gay German guy. 301 Main St., Ste. 107, Huntington Beach, (714) 374-3033; www.mosbbq.com. $

IRVINE

Location Info

Map

Al-Amir Bakery

2281 W. Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Anaheim

Cortina's Italian Market

2175 W. Orange Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Anaheim

La Palma Chicken Pie Shop

928 N. Euclid St.
Anaheim, CA 92801

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

El Pollo Fino

723 N. Anaheim Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92805

Category: Restaurant > Hot Chicken

Region: Anaheim

The Bungalow Restaurant

2441 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Category: Restaurant > Steakhouse

Region: Corona Del Mar

Avanti Cafe

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

Category: Restaurant > Fusion

Region: Costa Mesa

Country Inn Garden Cafe

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

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Costa Mesa

Lingonberry Cafe

1475 S. Coast Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Costa Mesa

Marrakesh

1976 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Costa Mesa

Senor Big Ed

5490 Lincoln Ave.
Cypress, CA 90630

Category: Restaurant > Nuevo Latino

Region: Cypress

Bonjour Cafe & Bistro

24633 Del Prado
Dana Point, CA 92629

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: Dana Point

Lucky Chinese

18525 Brookhurst St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Fountain Valley

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6IX PARK GRILL

The creations of chef Yves Fournier at 6ix Park are fresh and memorable, a studied California approach to standards such as salmon, steak and pastas. Even more impressive, though, Fournier veers from the protocol of most county hoteliers and offers a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Any day that proceeds from a luscious fritatta to a perfect porterhouse and concludes with an apple-hazelnut cobbler with a ginger sorbet will be one of the better 24-hour cycles of your year. 17900 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, (949) 225-6666. $$$

BRITTA'S CAFÉ

Britta's is a quaint, European-style café where servers offer you individual pieces of bread (baguette or pumpernickel?) and a savory rustic tart isn't some old queen sashaying through a gay Parisian bistro but an appetizer you'll completely enjoy. Cheese lovers will freak out over the calzone packed with goat cheese, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and tomatoes. 4237 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 509-1211; www.brittascafe.com. $$

DARBAND

All Persian restaurants feature shirin polo, basmati rice mixed with shredded chicken and fragments of orange peel, pistachios and almonds. Darband outdoes them all by including half a chicken, not chicken strips. And instead of mixing it into the shirin polo, the Darband cooks bring it out simmering in a bowl of chicken broth. The result is a chicken so succulent and tender you can eat it with a spoon. 14210 Culver Dr., Ste. H, Irvine, (949) 857-8265. $$

KOCHEE KABOB HOUSE

Kochee Kabob might lack decorative charm and a relaxed ambiance, but its grilled meat is, well, hard to beat—eight kinds of kebabs, each paired with flurries of long-grained, nutty basmati rice and a salad that can't quite measure up. Kochee Kabob's meats are flavorful enough without condiments, but there are two available: sour chile powder and a green hot sauce that's a fusion of a mint chutney and emerald Tapatío. 4143 Campus Dr., Ste. 195, Irvine, (949) 854-0206. $$

LA HABRA

CHICKEN BOX

A tiny room that always seems packed, Chicken Box fries up all the bird parts you'd expect with just enough grease to keep things tasty, as well as ribs, batter-fried fish and reasonably healthy stuff like salads. And you gotta love a place that sells boysenberry punch—a supertart, purple elixir probably mixed nowadays only in one other concern, Knott's Berry Farm, and then probably only as a tourist curio. 330 E. Whittier Blvd., La Habra, (714) 525-1345. $

LA PALMA

A'ROMA RISTORANTE TRATTORIA

The restaurant has a modern décor in deep soothing colors, where the servers are attentive. Put yourself in the mood for the chicken-breast special, which is cooked to a golden tenderness and seasoned to a subtle richness. 30 Center Pointe Dr., Ste. 1, La Palma, (714) 523-3729. $

LAGUNA BEACH

The COTTAGE

What's the secret of this Laguna Beach restaurant's decades of success? Good food and lots of it; comfy chairs and friendly service; charming framed photographs of Laguna's original greeter; a full, sated belly every time you leave. 308 N. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-3023. $

EVA'S CARIBBEAN KITCHEN

Eva's occupies the same simple cottage the dearly missed Drew's Caribbean Kitchen rented for many years. The best remnant from the Drew's days is an open kitchen that continues to flambé and sauté a cruise-ship tour of Caribbean cuisine, with stops for moist Bahamian conch fritters, a sweet St. Martin-style salad and enough varieties of rum to give Captain Morgan cirrhosis. 31732 S. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 499-6311; www.evascaribbeankitchen.com. $$

GOKO CAFE & DELI

Goko is one of the last remnants of the old Laguna Beach, the Laguna Beach of longhairs, coastal conservancy and a holistic lifestyle. Granola isn't an epithet here—it's the breakfast special. Goko also advertises breakfast burritos, beet-heavy salads and about 20 veggie takes on the pita sandwich from a couple of pastel-colored chalkboard menus that loom over the heads of customers. Great, healthy smoothies! 907 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-4880. $

SAVOURY'S

Located in the La Casa del Camino Hotel in beautiful Laguna Beach, the restaurant is run by executive chef Brad Toles, captain of Team California in the International Culinary Olympics. He melds Asian and European cooking with a New Age flair. You can have your Brie and pad Thai here, and you'll like it. 1287 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 376-9716; www.savourys.com. $$$

LAGUNA HILLS

PALACE BAKERY

Palace Bakery is the county's second shop to specialize in Persian desserts, a sweet-tooth tradition similar to Arabic pastries in their sumptuousness but exhibiting bolder flavors. Palace's baklava is sweeter than what they hawk in Anaheim's Little Arabia—splashed with more rose water and honey, the phyllo dough tougher and rolled around a dense almond filling so it resembles a miniature cigar. And every boxed purchase comes with a cool golden sticker! 24751 Alicia Pkwy., Ste. D, Laguna Hills, (949) 768-6252. ¢

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