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Grub Guide

Tasty morsels from the county's best damn dining guide


SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO

CARNICERÍA EL CAMPEÓN
All things being equal, we find that the less we comprehend of a menu, the higher the odds we're going to get authentic food. "Tamale" at Carnicería El Campeón was arranged on the menu near some other foods that only a Mexican mami could recognize. Unlike other joints, El Campeón's tamales are unencumbered by frills—just cornhusk, moist masa and chicken. 31921 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, (949) 240-3141. ¢


SANTA ANA

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

The Royal

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

EL GALLO GIRO
Leopaldo Gonzalez cranks tortas out in seven excruciating seconds, but they're worth the wait. The tortas are delicious and filling beyond description. The bread is warm, and the fresh meats are savory and perfectly complemented by the condiments. 1442 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 549-2011; www.gallogiro.com . ¢


SEAL BEACH

NICK'S DELI
Nick Zampino has no evidence, no proof, no corroborating facts or photographs, but he swears he knows in his heart that his family originated that most delicious and conveniently held of early-morning victuals: the breakfast burrito. After tasting these apotheoses, you'll be inclined to agree. 223 Main St., Seal Beach, (562) 598-5072. ¢


STANTON

MAD GREEK
Reasons to go to the Mad Greek: This place began the zucchini stick "craze"; the Greek salad comes in Herculean portions; uncouth vegetarians have proclaimed the falafel sandwich "Fuckin' radness"; and anything on the menu above $6 you won't be able to finish yourself. 12120 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 898-5181; www.themadgreekrestaurant.com . $


SUNSET BEACH

Captain Jack's
Opened June 25, 1965, this steak and seafood restaurant supposedly serves 53,000 pounds of Alaskan king crab per year—more than any other restaurant in the U.S. It prides itself on consistent quality and hearty portions. The bar is one of the few that still use the "Super Well," meaning that if you order gin, you get Bombay, and if you order vodka, you get Absolut. 16812 Pacific Coast Hwy., Sunset Beach, (562) 592-2514. $$


TUSTIN

INDIA SWEETS AND SPICES
It's a sweet shop and a produce vendor, a place to rent videos, buy Urdu-edition newspapers and get a home-style meal in a pop-culture mini-bazaar that caters to your taste for Indian soul food. 14441 Newport Ave., Tustin, (714) 731-2910. $


VILLA PARK

The Coffee Grove
Villa Park's answer to Cheers, the Coffee Grove is a place where you can chat with the locals or read the paper while they whip up your favorite caffeinated drink. 17769 Santiago Blvd., Villa Park, (714) 974-2650. $


WESTMINSTER

Peking Restaurant
The jellyfish salad is quite tasty, and if you think of it as Chinese pasta, you won't squirm. The family dinners are fabulous and feature such interesting choices as an entire steamed fish. 8566 Westminster Ave., Westminster, (714) 893-3020. $$


MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

COSMO'S ITALIAN KITCHEN
The restaurant is actually named after a family friend of the owners—no relation to Cosmo Kramer. Try the homemade, meat-filled ravioli topped with pesto sauce; it has more flavor than anything Chef Boyardee could ever dream up! 23411 Aliso Viejo Pkwy., Aliso Viejo, (949) 448-9040; 28562 Oso Pkwy., Rancho Santa Margarita, (949) 216-9029. $

THE DAILY GRILL
This is where you can learn to love the Cobb salad, an orchestrated event of chicken, tomatoes, avocado, bacon, blue cheese, scallions, hard-boiled egg, and romaine and iceberg lettuces mixed in a creamy Italian dressing. Also American comfort food—don't miss the meatloaf—prepared at its highest level. 2636 Dupont Dr., Irvine, (949) 474-2223; 957 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 644-2223; www.dailygrill.com . $$

EL CARBONERO
Owner María de Jesús Ramírez ensures that El Carbonero Nos. 1 and 2 use the same recipes of her hearty native cuisine, the primary reason why the county's pioneering guanaco restaurant persists while so many other Salvadoran restaurants disappear. Imitate the regulars and order at least one pupusa, the masa griddle cake Salvadorans consume from crib to crypt. And El Carbonero's horchata, heavy with cinnamon and toasted rice, makes Mexican horchata taste like a Tijuana gutter. 9516 W. Katella Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 527-4542; 803 S. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 542-6653. $

EL FORTÍN
In a country where each state has its unique version of the curry-like mole, Oaxaca is king, and El Fortín offers four stunning varieties of the royal family. I won't even bother describing the house mole, as my tongue cannot possibly articulate this creation—only eat. 700 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 773-4290; 10444 Dale Ave., Stanton, (714) 252-9120; www.restaurantelfortin.com . $

FLEMING'S PRIME STEAKHOUSE
Styled after traditional Eastern steakhouses, Fleming's offers an à la carte menu of appetizers, salads, side dishes, "red meat and white meat," and seafood. The steaks are cooked in a superheated gas flame to "seal in the juices," as the publicity goes. They are. A little salt is added to the cut before cooking. 455 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 720-9633; 1300 Dove St., Ste. 105, Newport Beach, (949) 222-2223. $$$

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