Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide


IRVINE

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 instead of chicken strips. And instead of mixing it into the shirin polo, the Darband cooks bring out the bird simmering in a bowl of chicken broth. The result was a chicken so succulent and tender, I was able to eat it with a spoon. 14210 Culver Dr., Ste. H, Irvine, (949) 857-8265. $$


LA HABRA

Location Info

Map

Peking Restaurant

8566 Westminster Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Westminster

The Coffee Grove

17769 Santiago Blvd.
Villa Park, CA 92861

Category: Restaurant > Coffeehouse

Region: Villa Park

India Sweets & Spices

14441 Newport Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780

Category: Restaurant > Grocery

Region: Tustin

Captain Jack's Prime Rib & Seafood Restaurant

16812 Pacific Coast Highway
Sunset Beach, CA 90742

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Sunset Beach

Mad Greek Restaurant

12120 Beach Blvd. Stanton, CA
Stanton, CA 90680

Category: Restaurant > Greek

Region: Stanton

Nick's Deli

223 Main St.
Seal Beach, CA 90740

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Seal Beach

El Gallo Giro

1442 S. Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Category: Restaurant > Fast Food

Region: Santa Ana

CARNICERÍA EL CAMPEÓN

31921 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Category: Restaurant > Grocery

Region: San Juan Capistrano

Iva Lee's

555 N. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

Category: Restaurant > Cajun

Region: San Clemente

Rembrandt's Beautiful Cuisine

909 E. Yorba Linda Blvd.
Placentia, CA 92870

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Placentia

EL PORTAL DE VERACRUZ

4530 E. Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92869

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Orange

Pescadou Bistro

3325 Newport Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: Newport Beach

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IMPERIAL BURGERS
Imperial Burgers serves many more things besides its Cheddar cheese-heavy pastrami burritos—its namesake, for instance, a charbroiled marriage of meat, soft bun, sweet cheese, girth and lettuce. Or standard breakfasts of pancakes, hash browns and sausage. And always sip on ultra-sweet Orange Bang whenever you find this increasingly rare beverage. Everything is good here, really. But La Habra is so far away, and the pastrami burrito is so good—why would you ever order anything else? 241 E. Imperial Hwy., La Habra, (714) 525-1611. $


LA PALMA

PAESANO'S
You probably slap together half of Paesano's menu at least once a week for dinner: sauce-drenched entrées such as mostaccioli, spaghetti and lasagna that aren't so much Old World as they are Hoboken. So why bother visiting this 26-year-old eatery? Meatballs that are lacy, herbed and delish. And good subs. 5440 Orangethorpe Ave., La Palma, (714) 521-4748. $


LAGUNA BEACH

LAS BRISAS
Sometimes you've gotta choose: The kid's college education, or another round of margaritas? Ah, but at Las Brisas—perched above Laguna Beach's Heisler Park, granting you a luxurious after-dinner view of the sun setting over Catalina—the seafood and booze are so good as to make temptation irresistible. 361 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-5434. $$


THE LITTLE LAGUNAS

ONAMI SUSHI & SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Here, you can partake of as much sushi as you want. You can gobble down transparent globules of ikura (salmon roe) like popcorn or tiny particles of masago (smelt egg) as if they're, well, tiny particles of masago. 24155 Laguna Hills Mall, Ste. 1301, Laguna Hills, (949) 768-0500. $$


LAKE FOREST

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. $$


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. ¢


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

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 . $$$


ORANGE

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. $


PLACENTIA

REMBRANDT'S BEAUTIFUL CUISINE
Rembrandt's claims to do "beautiful food," but for them, that translates to hearty, plain fare done to nostalgic perfection: a Brown Derby for our county minus the starlets but without that whole wrecking-ball thing. This is truly the little steakhouse that time forgot. It looks like what the Velvet Turtle would be if they'd redone it Spanish-style in the '80s: stark, white walls; huge paintings; chandeliers; and filet mignon to the hilt. 909 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., Placentia, (714) 528-6222; www.rembrandtsrestaurant.com . $$$


SAN CLEMENTE

IVA LEE'S
So authentically Cajun they hand out beads to patrons, Iva Lee's is a haute-cuisine take on the Big Easy. Crawfish cakes are topped with a dollop of saffron aioli, and the pan-fried pork chops are thick and juicy. The chicory coffee crème brûlée is so tasty it's like eating crack pudding. 555 N. El Camino Real, Ste. E, San Clemente, (949) 361-2855; www.ivalees.com . $$$

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