Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

LAGUNA NIGUEL

THAI DINING

Start with their tom kah gai soup, a creamy, flavorful offering of the popular Thai chicken-coconut soup; then try the beef panang. It rates pretty high on the beef panang scale—and it'll make you sweat. 28051 Greenfield Dr., Ste. J, Laguna Niguel, (949) 643-5521. $

Location Info

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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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LAKE FOREST

EL PARAÍSO

El Paraíso prepares sit-down platters: aromatic soups of chicken, beef or cow's foot with about four different squashes and potatoes; nicely grilled meats; and yucca sancochada, a golden, chewy version of the tuber doused with lemon. But no matter who's ordering what or working where, everyone who comes to El Paraíso forks through at least two chewy, sweet pupusas, the Salvadoran griddle cake that's the sole unifier of the fractious Central American nation. 25252 Jeronimo Rd., Ste. B, Lake Forest, (949) 770-2775. $

LONG BEACH

BABETTE'S FEAST

Babette's Feast is a boulangerie/patisserie par excellence, laying out a spread of delectable, mouth-watering delights that makes you thank heaven above for the gift of taste buds and these ungodly desserts. 4621 E. Second St., Long Beach, (562) 987-4536. $

THE BLUE CAFÉ

This music venue's food emphasizes fresh salads and semihealthy fare. The Blue Café salad—featuring grilled chicken, mango chunks, pepitas, blue-cheese crumbles and apple slices—makes a meal that is fresh, filling and packed with your recommended daily amount of something or other. 210 N. Promenade, Long Beach, (562) 983-7111. $$

GREEN FIELD CHURRASCARIA

The phrase "food coma" was invented for the visceral carnality that clogs your pores at Green Field Churrascaria, which specializes in the terrifying meat onslaught known as churrascaria, or Brazilian barbecue. Churrascaria is pricey, but here's what you get: all-you-can eat Brazilian sausage, tightly packed and burned to nirvana, like a not-sweet Chinese sausage; a chicken thigh, good but perhaps too dry; and beef loin, best ever, rare but hot clear through. 5305 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach, (562) 597-0906; www.greenfieldchurrascaria.com. $$

LOS ALAMITOS

PITTSBURGH CHICKEN & TATERS

Most Americans know the Steel City for its bankrupt hockey teams and bruising football squads, but this storefront restaurant with its goofy hen mascot (circa early Peanuts) makes broasted chicken. Those gals are pressure-cooked with the same relentless intensity the Steelers defense applies on third-and-15, producing meat that's plump and moist inside a fine gnarled skin. 3671 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-0140. $

MISSION VIEJO

ALOHA BBQ

Hawaiian staples such as manapua (steamed pork buns) and boiling saimin noodles are fine at Aloha BBQ, along with a Korean-skewed side menu filled with bimimbap and complimentary kimchi. As great as those are, the most impressive meat meal is the spicy pork ribs. Most rib places content themselves with giving patrons a couple of twigs, but Aloha BBQ carts over four massive things that appear to have been torn from a hippo. 24000 Alicia Pkwy., Ste. 4, Mission Viejo, (949) 581-0976. $

NEWPORT BEACH

CAFE IL FARRO

Spelt is the ancient health-imparting grain on which half of Cafe il Farro's pastas and risottos are based, but if you prefer the kind of pasta that gives your blood-glucose level a boost, try the homemade heart-shaped ravioli. 111 21st St., Newport Beach, (949) 723-5711. $

CHARLIE'S CHILI

Perfect for kitschy late-night dining with booths covered in ancient nautical signs and models. The Wednesday-night all-you-can-eat chili special is ideal: steaming bowls filled with a thick, sumptuous chili drowning in diced onions and cheese. 102 McFadden Place, Newport Beach, (949) 675-7991. $

PESCADOU BISTRO

Despite its location—in a storefront across from Newport Beach City Hall—Pescadou manages to impart a south-of-France feel with vibrant colors and eclectic table settings. You'll find traditional French dishes—frog legs and coq au vin—as well as such bistro fare as rib-eye steak, bouillabaisse and a variety of fish dishes. 3325 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-6990; www.pescadoubistro.com. $$$

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

EGG ROLLS, ETC.

Naming a restaurant Egg Rolls, Etc. implies the eatery specializes in various versions of Asia's preferred fried snack. This Orange establishment, however, creates but one kind—lumpia, the Filipino type that's bulky enough to wield for bruising purposes. The "Etc." portion of Egg Rolls' name is more accurate, referring to the turo-turo ("point-point") cafeteria tradition of Filipino cuisine to which the restaurant adheres. 1710 W. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 937-0800. ¢

EL PORTAL DE VERACRUZ

Most people pick their El Portal meal from a buffet that surprises hourly. Sometimes you'll find fried bananas sidling against pork ribs slathered in a citrusy green salsa spiked with smoky cactus strips. Or you can go veggie and load up on grilled jalapeños, cheese-sprinkled refried beans and moist rice. But no meal at El Portal is worth eating without at least one masa-based Veracruzan snack: potato-y garnachas, lightly fried picaditas or fluffy chicken tamales. 4530 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 538-1660. $

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