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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide

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. $

LAKE FOREST

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Merhaba Restaurant

2801 W. Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > African

Region: Anaheim

Mr. Stox Restaurant

1105 E. Katella Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92805

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

Napa Rose

1600 S. Disneyland Drive
Anaheim, CA 92802

Category: Restaurant > California

Region: Anaheim

Taps Fish House & Brewery

101 E. Imperial Highway
Brea, CA 92821

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Brea

Filipino Express

4544 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90621-1133

Category: Restaurant > Filipino

Region: Buena Park

POFOLKS

7701 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90621

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Buena Park

Gallo's Italian Deli

3900 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Corona Del Mar

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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. $

MANILA FOOD MART

Every Filipino joint offers the same meals; Manila Food Mart differentiates itself by hawking various products, from such Filipino garb as handbags and barongs (an ornate, light long-sleeved shirt similar to the Caribbean guayabera) to a freezer stocked with ready-to-eat meals such as bags of plump, sugary longansina pork sausages. 24601 Raymond Way, Ste. 10, Lake Forest, (949) 461-0113; www.manilafoodmart.com . $

LONG BEACH

AlegrÍa Cocina Latina

The Spanish-styled brocheta vegetariana isn't like any bruschetta we're used to. The bread is replaced with corn tortillas and topped with skewers of grilled vegetables in a light sesame sauce on a pile of Peruvian corn, fresh-chopped tomatoes and tofu. That's right—tofu! 115 Pine Ave., Long Beach, (562) 436-3388. $$

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. $$

LOS ALAMITOS

KATELLA DELI

The place has a voluminous menu that spans matzo to mud pie, spinach salad to skyscraper sandwiches, knish to kippers—not to mention a full bakery that houses fresh rolls and bagels. Their Denver omelet is terrific. 4470 Katella Ave., Los Alamitos, (562) 594-8611. ¢

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. $

SANTORA'S PIZZA SUBS & WINGS

Matthew 20:16 taught us that the last shall be first, and that's the best way to describe Santora's Pizza, Subs & Wings, a dank tavern just down the street from the sterile opulence of the Shops at Mission Viejo. Santora's pizza is passable; the subs nothing a Togo's drone can't slap together in three minutes. But Santora's Buffalo wings are the gourmand Gospel manifest: the Good Word transubstantiated into fleshy appendages ready to burn through your alimentary canal like the fires of Gehenna. 28251 Marguerite Pkwy., Mission Viejo, (949) 364-3282. $

NEWPORT BEACH

MASTRO'S OCEAN CLUB FISH HOUSE

Mastro's prides itself on an à la carte with gargantuan portions—think Claim Jumper, but three times the style and cost. So it's not a problem an appetizer like vanilla-battered shrimp includes just three of the crustaceans: the shrimp are among the largest you'll ever see, about the size of a cop's blackjack. And any qualms over paying almost $30 for a fish fillet will disappear under the dense, buttery consistency of any of them. 8112 E. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 376-6990; www.mastrosoceanclub.com . $$$

MULDOON'S

The perfect fish-and-chips search ends here. Five pieces of fresh red snapper are piled atop skin-on shoestring fries made from real potatoes. The batter on the fish is golden and puffy, like fried cumulus clouds. And the Irish soda bread will make you a regular. 202 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 640-4110. $$

PASCAL EPICERIE

If you have a really bad day and need a treat, go to Pascal's Epicerie for lunch. Located in a strip mall in Newport Beach, this delicatessen serves simple food with French flair. Try the Niçoise salad with poached tuna, black olives, red potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and butter lettuce. 1000 Bristol St., Newport Beach, (949) 261-9041. $

ORANGE

Mattern Deli

No one said sausage was health food, but if you're in the mood to down a few cold ones by the barbecue, oust the Ball Park Franks and take home a trio of Mattern's premises-made links to sample. 4327 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 639-3550. $

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