The Feast Days of Summer

And Winter and Fall and Spring! Where to eat, drink and be merry during the most important holidays

Every day is a holiday for someone somewhere in this world—did you know, for instance, that Aug. 12, the day this issue hits newsstands and the Internet, is simultaneously the Glorious Twelfth in the United Kingdom (meant to commemorate the start of grouse-hunting season), International Youth Day and the Catholic Feast Day of Saint Euplius, who was beheaded after reading the Bible in Sicily? Fun times today!

No matter the commemoration, mankind universally celebrates with food. And here in Orange County, our many tribes celebrate special days throughout the year. We can easily fill up a calendar with our culinary recommendations for each day, so we’ve decided to limit ourselves to 24 of the most important holidays—listed in chronological order—to county residents, along with the restaurant where you can best enjoy the day’s particular meaning. Don’t like our choices? Visit our Stick a Fork In It blog, where we’ll have five more choices for you to ponder, as well as give you the opportunity to bitch. Happy eating!

 

Hugh D'Andrade
Hugh D'Andrade

Location Info

Map

El Cabrito

1604 W. First St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Santa Ana

Van's Bakery

8926 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Westminster

Capital Seafood

2700 Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA 92614

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Irvine

Anaheim White House

887 S. Anaheim Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92805

Category: Restaurant > Fine Dining

Region: Anaheim

Darya Restaurant

1611 W. Sunflower Ave.
Santa Ana, CA 92704

Category: Restaurant > Persian

Region: Santa Ana

Thai Nakorn

11951 Beach Blvd.
Stanton, CA 90680

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Stanton

Thai Nakorn

12532 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Garden Grove

Bánh Mì Che Cali

13838 Brookhurst St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Category: Restaurant > Sandwiches

Region: Garden Grove

Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery

15551 Brookhurst St.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Vietnamese

Region: Westminster

Banh Mi & Che Cali Bakery

8948 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Westminster

El Fortin

700 E. Commonwealth Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92831

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Fullerton

El Fortin

10444 Dale Ave.
Stanton, CA 90680

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Stanton

Break of Dawn Restaurant

24351 Avenida De La Carlota, Ste. N-6
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: Laguna Hills

Paul's Coffee Shop

16947 Bushard St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708

Category: Coffee Shops

Region: Fountain Valley

Blake's Place

2905 E. Miraloma Ave., Ste. 3
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

Brasserie Pascal

327 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Category: Restaurant > European

Region: Newport Beach

Olive Tree

512 S. Brookhurst St., Ste. 3
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Anaheim

Alebrije's Grill

E. Cubbon St & S Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Santa Ana

The Past Memories

9252 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92844

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Garden Grove

Puerto Madero Market

1225 W. 17th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92706

Category: Restaurant > Argentine

Region: Santa Ana

Phoenix Club

1340 S. Sanderson Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > European

Region: Anaheim

Loreley Restaurant

1340 S. Sanderson Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > German

Region: Out of Town

Wadiya

949 S. Euclid St.
Anaheim, CA 92802

Category: Restaurant > Asian

Region: Anaheim

Powell's Sweet Shoppe

27000 Alicia Parkway, Ste E
Aliso Viejo, CA 92677

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Laguna Niguel

Forn Al Hara

512 S. Brookhurst
Anaheim, CA 92804

Category: Restaurant > Middle Eastern

Region: Anaheim

Zen Vegetarian

9329 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683

Category: Restaurant > Vegetarian

Region: Westminster

Jagerhaus

2525 E. Ball Road
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > German

Region: Anaheim

The Crosby

400 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Santa Ana

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NEW YEAR’S DAY
Jan. 1

It’s noon on New Year’s Day, and the house is a mess. Uncle Edward is comatose on the couch, lampshade still on his head; there’s a beer bottle upturned in a bowl of confiscated car keys; and the creaking of a floorboard causes knifing pain to run through hung-over heads. What to do? Every culture has its own ways of dealing with the effects of overindulgence, but El Cabrito may serve the tastiest. As its name (“The Kid Goat”) implies, it specializes in birria de chivo, a thick, chile- and cumin-rich stew made with goat meat. A plate of the stringy stuff—the perfect mix of lean and fat, with a stack of homemade tortillas, some griddled onions and a heap of El Cabrito’s amazing, sludgy, rich, smoky salsa de aceite—and even the most uninhibited imbiber will be well on the road to recovery. And don’t forget the steaming cup of goat drippings on the side for dunking or hair-of-the-dog purposes. 1604 W. First St., Santa Ana, (714) 543-8461.

 

 

TET
The first day of the first month of the lunar calendar, usually late January or early February

Though smaller sizes are always available year-round, the Tet holiday brings in the behemoth versions of bánh tét, which is to the Vietnamese New Year what fruitcake is to Christmas. But unlike the dried-fruit-encrusted pastry, people willingly consume bánh tét and look forward to it as part of the annual Tet tradition. Each holiday log—a glutinous rice roll filled with a savory-sweet mung-bean paste mixed with pork fat, onions and pepper, then wrapped in a banana leaf and bound with twine—is large enough to use as mooring for a ship or as a barbell during Pilates. They’re sliced into wheels and either eaten as is or pan-fried to a golden crisp after a good dousing of fish sauce. Van’s Bakery won’t be the only place to have them, but they also offer bánh tét chay, a vegetarian version. Either way, it’s better than fruitcake. 14346 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, (714) 839-1666.

 

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR
The second new moon after the winter solstice, usually between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20

Holidays are more fun when you’re surrounded by people celebrating them, right? Well, the busiest days at any dim-sum purveyor are on Chinese New Year weekend, and Irvine’s branch of the Capital Seafood chain packs them in like a Shanghai train. Families drive immense distances to reunite over plates of shu mai, nai wong bao and griddled turnip (actually daikon radish) cake. Don’t skip the excellent dou fu faa, fresh housemade tofu pudding with sweet ginger syrup, or lean pork and preserved egg congee with savory Chinese doughnuts. For an extra-festive touch, order a plate of seafood from the tanks as the centerpiece of the meal—house special crab or lobster, if you’re really trying to impress your guests. Whatever you order, go as early as you can because between the parking lot (which seems to have been designed while looking through the bottom of a tequila bottle) and the crowds, the wait can be considerable and frustrating—but the food will make it worth the hair-pulling. 2700 Alton Pkwy., Irvine, (949) 252-8188; www.capital-seafood.com/irvine.

 

 

PRESIDENT’S DAY
The third Monday of February

The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace—the only presidential library within our county’s borders—would be the ideal place to visit on President’s Day. Most years, admission is free, and in 2010, they gave out slices of cherry pie for the first 100 guests. But for something a bit more bipartisan, visit The Anaheim White House, a restaurant housed inside a vaguely Jeffersonian building that takes the idea of honoring our commander in chiefs a little more lightly. Presidential-looking plates of Italian-inspired cuisine are served in themed rooms named after select POTUSes from the past and present. Barack Obama has a room, much to the consternation of our county’s Know Nothings, but like his administration, it hasn’t proven to be more than a pleasant, indistinguishable room worth only a brief visit. Everything is decked out in white linen and gold sashes. Chandeliers and fine china never looked as regal as they do here, except maybe at the real White House. And for those who just came from Yorba Linda after paying their respects to our 37th president, there’s a room dedicated to Tricky Dick himself. 887 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 772-1381; anaheimwhitehouse.com.

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