Some advice while visiting ALERTO'S MEXICAN FOOD: Get a half-order of carne asada nachos for $5.98. The only difference between the full and half-order is the price. Both have the same amount of freshly fried chips smothered in cheese, beans, tender cubes of steak, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream. If you still insist on paying for the full order, give us a ring: We've got some homes in Corona we'd like to offload. 15681 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 775-9550.

The house noodles at NOODLE AVENUE is everything you want in a bowl. Choose from four noodle options (udon, egg, thin or thick rice noodle); pick your protein—spongy curls of white-meat chicken, jiggly shrimp, wispy pork slices, ground pork, even meatballs. All are submerged in a lip-smacking hot broth. But most impressive is the price for your heavenly combo: $5.45. 13816 Red Hill Ave., Tustin, (714) 505-9070.

A Oaxacan tlayuda is a Mexican epic as grandiose as the Pyramid of the Sun: a crispy flour tortilla the circumference of a basketball hoop, smeared with black beans, then topped with creamy quesillo, shredded cabbage and your choice of meat. The ?only good tlayuda in the United States outside of Los Angeles' Oaxacatown is at either of the two EL FORTIN spots—screw pizza, and treat your next Little League squad to this $5.50 stunner. 700 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 773-4290; 10444 Dale Ave., Stanton, (714) 252-9120;

OC's cheapest grub: in HB
Tim Melideo
OC's cheapest grub: in HB
A Dosa good food for seven bucks
Jonathan Ho
A Dosa good food for seven bucks

Location Info



1475 S. Coast Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Retail

Region: Costa Mesa

Las Brisas De Apatzingan

1524 S. Flower St.
Santa Ana, CA 92707

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Santa Ana

Nha Hang 1.99

11707 Edinger Ave.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Fountain Valley

El Chinaco

560 W. 19th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Costa Mesa

Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery

15551 Brookhurst St.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Westminster

Lucia’s Tacos & Mulitas

16952 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Huntington Beach

Al Sanabel Bakery

816 S. Brookhurst Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Anaheim

Wholesome Choice

18040 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92612

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Irvine

Champion Food Co.

17090 Magnolia St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Restaurant > Cafe

Region: Fountain Valley

Saffron Grill

17441 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Category: Restaurant > Mediterranean

Region: Huntington Beach

Of all the curries on Earth, Japanese is probably the best—not hellishly spicy, more like a gravy, simple to prepare and cheap. Right next to the famed Santoka Ramen in the Mitsuwa Market food court is MIYABI TEI, an all-around food stand serving everything from sushi to bento boxes. Best is the beef curry, a plateful of the stuff on top of white rice for $5.50—almost every other local Japanese restaurant sells it for at least $4 more. 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 754-7044.

Silogs are a subgenre of Filipino restaurants specializing in two scoops of white rice, eggs your way and a choice of meat. At MANILA GROOVE in Tustin, you can get half a dozen $5.99 silogs all day—fat, glistening longanisa pork sausages, a whole milkfish or sole, chicken bacon (mmm . . . chicken bacon)—they're all filling and include free coffee or a soda. 678 El Camino Real, Tustin, (714) 505-3905;

Arguably the tastiest ramen in Orange County is at SANTOKA, a stall with no English signage at the Mitsuwa food court (just go to the one with the long, fast line). There, pork bones are boiled to surrender their meaty souls into a soup so rich it's a meal unto itself. But Santoka drops tooth-firm strands of noodles into it and blubbery slices of even more pork. A small bowl as big as your face costs $6.45. Splurge a buck more for the medium, or two for the large. 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 557-6699.

DOSA PLACE serves probably the best eponymous plates in the county: a 2-foot-long South Indian crepe, the center packed with curried potatoes, ends hollow so you can tear apart the crispy crust and dunk into an accompanying spicy sambar soup. Any of the 18 is fine, but Weekly investigative genius Nick Schou swears by the $7.50 Mysore masala dosa, potatoes laced with special, delicious spices. 13812 Red Hill Ave., Tustin, (714) 505-7777;

BANGKOK TASTE offers many great choices available between $5 and $9.99—whole fish fillets, curries, and a lunch special (soup, wonton, rice and entrée) better than the offerings at most Thai restaurants. But the star is the $7.95 khao soy, a yellow curry broth steaming with beef and egg noodles, a web of fried wheat noodles on top. On the side are green onions, pickled cabbage and limes; squeeze out the lime juice and throw in the veggies. This soup braces, singes and warms like nothing since pho—but better. 2737 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 532-2216.

Koobideh is a seasoned tube of ground meat packed onto metal rods and roasted over fire. The Persian version cooked at Lake Forest's HOUSE OF KABOB is the softest, moistest—and also one of the cheapest east of Detroit. Priced at $9.99 for lunch, it's lain on a bed of fluffy rice and buddied up with a charbroiled tomato. You won't ever settle again for any other koobidehs that might taste half as good and cost twice as much. 20651 Lake Forest Dr., Ste. 101, Lake Forest, (949) 460-0800.

Italian sub places cover Orange County; the good ones are few. That's why we're glad CORTINA'S ITALIAN MARKET is still at it more than 45 years after opening. All their subs save for one cost between $6 and $8—even the large, which really feeds three instead of just you. The classics rule the day—prosciutto, sausage and peppers, eggplant Parmesan. And the namesake special—dry salami, cotto salami, capicolla, mortadella and provolone cheese drizzled with an Italian vinaigrette—would cost double at those annoying panini palaces Orange Countians have taken to like Mexican-bashing. 2175 W. Orange Ave., Anaheim, (714) 535-1948;

The green mole at ANA'S CATERING TRUCK isn't always available, and they never tell you when the cooks plan to prep it. But stop by as often as you can for the possibility to try it. For seven clams, you get one of the county's best renditions—slightly spicy, more verdant than anything, soaking through chicken that might be better cooked but isn't per the Guerrero traditions of the mole. The rice and beans are an afterthought, but not the homemade, thick tortillas. If the mole isn't available, try the tacos—a bit pricey at $1.25, but they're big and bueno. On the corner of Fourth and Minter, Santa Ana. No phone number.

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