By Kristine Hoang
By Ryan Ritchie
By Edwin Goei
By Edwin Goei
By Edwin Goei
By Edwin Goei
By Cleo Tobbi
By Dominique Boubion
Visit the rest of Orange County's best damn dining guide at ocweekly.com/food, where it says "Where to Eat Now" on the right side of the screen. If there are any bugs with it, e-mail Gustavo at firstname.lastname@example.org with your complaints!
DINNER FOR TWO:
¢ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Less than $10!
511 S. State College Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92806
8901-D Knott Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620
Region: Buena Park
3801 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
Region: Corona Del Mar
2975 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Region: Costa Mesa
$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10-$20
$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $20-$40
$$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¡Eres muy rico!
I defy anyone to find a finer summer Friday night than the kind you get at Angelo's: a burger-fries-and-Coke combo for 6 bucks, a girl/boy by your side, nameless kids chucking pickles at one another, buxom waitresses skating without pause, and the half-Latino, half-white crowd communally willing another Vlad Guerrero horsehide bomb into the television sky. 511 S. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 533-1401. $
A domino effect of ordering everything in sight possesses anyone who enters Ara's. Quadruple-layer columns of trays extend across the bakery, heavy with cookies, Bavarian-cake slices, cream tarts and other European confections. And, of course, there's baklava, the Middle Eastern dessert standard baked here in eight distinct styles: shaped into diamonds, hexagons, flaky cylinders . . . nearly every shape in the Game of Perfection. 2227 W. Ball Rd., Anaheim, (714) 776-5554. ¢
Brea's Best Burgers
The perfect non-chain burger, a quarter-pound patty all gussied-up with the Thousand Island dressing, the lettuce, the onions, the tomatoes and the sesame-seed bun. Brea's Best also has sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, burritos and breakfast fare. You could even eat healthy by ordering an ostrich burger—but why would you? A word of warning: the place gets mobbed during the weekday lunch rush, so plan accordingly. 707 S. Brea Blvd., Brea, (714) 990-2615. $
BISMILLAH HALAL TANDOORI RESTAURANT
The karahi lamb will blast your mouth into a new orbit. Prepared with a dictionary's worth of herbs and spices, the taste is an unbelievable medley of flavors. And the nihara's beef is so tender it's like butter. 8901-D Knott Ave., Buena Park, (714) 827-7201. $
With ferociously delicious food that destroys the stereotype of British cuisine, you can't go wrong with the Beefsteak Neptune (filet mignon topped with crab legs, asparagus and Béarnaise sauce) or the Jamaican "jerked" pork chop. One warning: prom-goers love this place—be afraid. 3801 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, (949) 760-0331. $$$
An hour or two getting fat, drunk and happy at AIRe is the kind of worldly pleasure that could turn Gandhi into a Republican. Fusion is the game here—the wasabi-smeared Kansas City steak strips are luscious, even if they come with a dumb moniker—and the array of drinks and beautiful people will have you celebrating like Nero with a fiddle. 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 751-7099; www.aireglobal.com. $$$
Thanks to Marukai, your refrigerator can now be filled with tofu and cans of iced Kona coffee, your freezer stuffed with green-tea ice cream and frozen edamame, and your cabinets overflowing with wonton chips and wasabi-fortified rice crackers. POUND SEAWEED, TRAITOR JOE! 2975 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (714) 751-8433. $$
SWEETEE THAI CUISINE
Thai food has become so common in the Southland that memorable meals in this particular culinary genre are difficult to come by. Sweetee Thai is the exception. Try the Spiral—long, skewered shrimps swathed in a swirl of soft bacon, accompanied by two orange dips: one hot, one not. 10557 Valley View St., Cypress, (714) 828-7371. $$
Appetizers are memorable: a feuillette, puff pastry with shrimp in the middle, placed in an herb-butter sauce with shallots and parsley; and a mousse of duck liver surrounded by minced aspic and sprinkled with cognac. But even better are the main courses—buttery Dover sole, New York steak bathed in a creamy beige sauce of brandy and peppercorns, French onion soup. Salivating yet? 34471 Golden Lantern St., Dana Point, (949) 234-0063; www.gemmellsrestaurant.com. $$$
When you want to throw caloric caution to the wind, there's no beating Mel's. The cooking is home-style, the portions huge and the waitresses friendly. Other than a hot cuppa joe (yep, that's here, too), what more do you want? You'd be a knucklehead to leave without ordering the hubcap-sized, homemade cinnamon rolls topped with generous dollops of pure melted butter (served weekends only). 9430 Warner Ave., Ste. 1, Fountain Valley, (714) 963-2662. ¢
419 CAFE VERONESE
In South Korea, the tabang (tea room) is a combination pub/coffeehouse where young adults roam until late, drinking super-sweet teas and engaging in fevered conversation or karaoke. Here, you can sip of tart Korean teas and sit in private nooks where you can lose yourself in The Life of Pi or argue about whether "pinche" qualifies as a word in Scrabble. 419 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 578-8265. $
SIDNEY'S VEGETARIAN CAFE
This charming café, right in the center of Fullerton's ever-expanding downtown bar life, might capitalize on the needs of the health-starved—it's a vegetarian joint, opening daily at 7 a.m. with an almost entirely vegan breakfast menu—but in a home-cooked, motherly, it's-good-for-you-because-I-say-so way. Owner Sandy Sauers excels with small touches, such as a feta-cheese-and-sun-dried-tomato dressing that sits lightly on the portobello mushroom burger, adding a freshness to the dusky fungus, or almonds and golden raisins on a surprisingly zesty coleslaw. 108 W. Wilshire Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-5111; www.sidneyscafe.com. $