So your out-of-town relatives dragged you to Disneyland and insist on dinner. Forget the Mouse-branded eateries and opt for K'YA, located inside the Hotel Menage. Shun all other items and aim for the bistro menu, on which nothing costs more than $12. The best (and most expensive) dish is the flatiron steak dinner complete with mashed potatoes, vegetables and a port-wine sauce. Aunt May never tasted anything better or fancier, even in Iowa. 1221 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 400-9104;

Think of a prix fixe menu, and most folks envision champagne glasses, three figures and overall snootiness. Not so at AVANTI CAFE. Nearly every Tuesday this year, they've offered a three-course vegetarian meal—soup, entrée with salad, and dessert—highlighting a different cuisine. Stars so far were Hungarian fry bread, Austrian apple strudel, and dozens of different soups whipped up for one night only yet better than almost any potage. All this for $11.50 ($9.50 for lunch, suckers). This month is International Pasta Month—go, already! 259 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, ?(949) 548-2224;

The chicken Marsala at FLAVIO'S ITALIAN KITCHEN would be a lovely dish at $20, the nominal fee most tonier, fancier establishments on the coast charge. But the former dishwasher turned restaurateur charges only $12.95. And it's wonderful: a thick, juicy chicken breast carefully breaded, then bathed in marsala sauce and served with spaghetti so rocket-hot you'll curse the heavens—but not because of the price. 14425 Newport Ave., Tustin, (714) 832-3434;

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

An order of half a dozen empanadas at EMPANADA MAN in Lake Forest is about $11.99, and though it seems excessive, consider this: two make a hefty meal, six feed your staff for lunch. And the extra order means you can pick and choose from their 13 flavors, everything from the traditional (beef, chicken, humita—smoky cream of corn) to those heading toward pizza territory—just try to guess what the Hawaiian contains within its buttery, divine crust. 20761 Lake Forest Dr., Lake Forest, (949) 855-9257;

It's not just the Orange Circle view that sneaks standby FELIX CONTINENTAL CUISINE on this list. For years, they've translated expensive dishes into affordability, so almost all of their Spanish and Cuban specialties not only register less than $15, but they also come with soup (never pick the pedestrian salad), rice, black beans and plantains. For chrissakes, where else can you get shrimp crepes for about $12 and not succumb to salmonella? 36 Plaza Square, Orange, ?(714) 633-5842;

Lunch is offered at CAPTAIN'S TABLE in Orange Coast College, the fine restaurant-cum-classroom, only during the fall and spring semesters and only on Thursdays at noon. This coming fall semester, reservations must be for at least six eaters. There's no set menu yet, but trust us: at only $12 for a three-course gourmet meal, it's less risky than haircuts at the barber college. Located in OCC's Student Center, 2701 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa. For reservations, call (714) 432-5835, ext. 4.

There's no denying it: ASIA BUFFET attracts frugal people who like to eat their weight in crab legs. You can join this sad club for $13.98. The admission price earns you access to the bounty, the most diversely stocked and capably cooked Asian buffet in OC. But go only on weekend nights or Sundays to experience it at its best; even though it's slightly cheaper at other times, when there's no crab, no frog legs and no snails, there is no glory. 8360 La Palma Ave., Buena Park, (714) 828-5780.

When you want to impress a date, you have to go to eateries such as A RESTAURANT, where you won't fork over date-restaurant prices but nevertheless wow your paramour enough to probably get some later. A rotates pasta dishes nightly, such as a lasagna on Saturday and a Sunday gnocchi plate, each for $13. The trick is to get that date of yours to order the pastas over the steaks. We suggest talking about butchered baby cows beforehand. 3334 Pacific Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, (949) 650-6505;

You could get a rotisserie chicken at Costco for $5, but it won't taste nearly as exciting as the bird that BONEHEADS roasts for $13.99. It's lacquered in a thin veneer of spicy piri piri sauce, a South African chile-pepper-based glaze that burns hotter than what slicked those Buffalo wings you downed at happy hour. Moreover, Boneheads' chicken is moist throughout, even the breast. 23704 El Toro Rd., Lake Forest, (949) 581-3474;

When a chef advertises a slider, it's usually an excuse for fancy restaurants to justify charging more than $10 for a tiny burger. Amazingly, MANHATTAN SUPPER CLUB doesn't rip you off. Though their slider is $14, it comes with four mini-burgers, all featuring grass-fed, organically raised beef so luscious and wonderful you'll forsake any other kind of beef forever—even In-N-Out. 202 S. Main St., Orange, (714) 978-6161;

The Lake Forest branch of NORY'S PERUVIAN features a dish named for our times: bistek a lo pobre, a $14.50 supper consisting of a thinly pounded steak marinated in spices and fried eggs, heaped on three kinds of starch (rice, fried plantains and French fries), and served with a salad. For those of you not already part of the Reconquista, pobre means "poor." 23798 Mercury Rd., Lake Forest, (949) 458-0318.

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