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The Feast Days of Summer

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

 

NOWRUZ
March 20-23

Chinese New Year is commonly celebrated; Tet is found throughout the county. What’s a hipster in search of an obscure holiday to do? Wait for spring. OC’s two most well-known Persian restaurants (named identically but unrelated: Darya in Orange is related to a restaurant in Westwood; Darya at South Coast Plaza is a standalone) have nearly identical menus, and both make excellent sabzi polo mahi, the traditional meal of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The theme of Nowruz is purification and rebirth, symbolized by fire and new herbs, so the Daryas’ emphasis is on dishes that incorporate both. They cook basmati rice with seven herbs (chives, cilantro, dill, fenugreek leaves, green onions, parsley and spinach) and fire-grilled whitefish steaks; an egg may be served to symbolize the continuity of life. As a wish for long life, order a bowl of ash-e reshteh—thick, hearty noodle soup—and utter, “Nowruz mubarak” for an auspicious year. 1611 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana, (714) 557-6600; daryasouthcoastplaza.com. 1998 N. Tustin St., Orange, (714) 921-2773; daryarestaurant.com.

 

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

85 Fortune Dr, #329
Irvine, CA 92618

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

Alebrijes 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: Bars and Clubs

Region: Anaheim

Loreley Restaurant

1340 S. Sanderson Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92806

Category: Restaurant > German

Region: Anaheim

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, Ste. 5
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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SONGKRAN FESTIVAL
April 13-15

The thing to do for the Thai New Year of Songkran is to soak one another with water pistols. In Thailand, merry street parties break out with revelers who sometimes employ real elephants with hair-trigger trunks as water hoses. Some traditionalists lament the whole thing as an anamorphosis of the ritualistic cleansing of Buddha statues, but it’s damp, harmless fun. Southern California’s few Thai temples do feature crowds that ring in the New Year with water fights and food, but if you aren’t keen on getting drenched, celebrate at Thai Nakorn. The food consumed by Thais during the holiday differs from region to region, but at Thai Nakorn, you can sample just about everything in the cuisine’s glossary. Try the pad Thai (a street food enjoyed during Songkran as much as it is the rest of the year), but make it a New Year’s resolution to try something new, like the wild boar curry from the much-lauded specials menu. 11951 Beach Blvd., Stanton, (714) 799-2031; 12532 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 583-8938; thainakornrestaurant.com.

 

TAX DAY
April 15

After the pain of writing a check to Uncle Sam, the parking nightmare and long lines at the post office, and the frustration of having to figure out where you put form 30426-B, Orange Countians both stressed and impecunious should repair to any location of Bánh Mì & Che Cali for its namesake Vietnamese sandwich. For a couple of bucks each, you can get a French roll or baguette filled with your choice of Southeast Asian charcuterie, garlicky mayonnaise, pickled carrots and daikon radish, chiles and cilantro. Try a dac biet, with pate, Vietnamese head cheese and white-pork shoulder, or go for a xiu mai, juicy pork meatballs with just a touch of caramel sauce. For dessert, try some of the coconut-laden dessert puddings: che ba mau is three sweet beans in coconut-milk syrup, and che chuoi uses the same syrup, but instead enveloping soft-cooked bananas. Bánh mì and che are a special bargain: Buy two and get the third free. Three sandwiches and three half-pints of che for $8 ought to make any IRS victim happy—at least until the next quarterly estimated taxes are due. 13838 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove; (714) 534-6987; 15551 Brookhurst St., Westminster, (714) 839-8185; 18122 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, (714) 593-6300; 8948 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, (714) 897-3927.

 

 

CINCO DE MAYO
May 5

It would be nice to review a Pueblan-style restaurant for this entry, given that this most-misunderstood of Mexican holidays recalls the 1862 Battle of Puebla. It would be great to send ustedes to a place that sells epic cemitas poblanas (the sandwiches that make tortas seem as small as sliders) or tacos árabes, even a good version of mole poblano. But Pueblan restaurants don’t exist in la naranja at the moment, so the next logical step for those who wish to celebrate the holiday properly instead of the grotesque tequila-and-sombrero spectacle that happens in el Norte is to eat at a Oaxacan restaurant. The state is renowned not only for its moles, but also for Benito Juarez—the Lincoln of Mexico, the president who led the country against the French and Hapsburg occupiers whom the Battle of Puebla staved off for just a year. El Fortín is the county’s best Oaxacan restaurant, where Cinco de Mayo doesn’t bring out the burros and mock mariachi, but rather platters of moles; table-big tortillas called tlayudas, smeared with black-bean paste; and baskets of stringy, milky Oaxacan cheese. If you’re lucky, it’ll also show clips of the festivities of Oaxaca’s own state holiday, the Guelaguetza. 700 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 773-4290; 10444 Dale St., Stanton, (714) 252-9120; restaurantelfortin.com.

 

MOTHER’S DAY
The second Sunday in May

How is it that Mother’s Day came to be associated with breakfast in bed? A byproduct of TV-sitcom plots, perhaps? Of course, there’s taking her out for a fancy brunch at someplace that pours the hollandaise as if it were gold, then charges you a jacked-up fee. But there is an out: Break of Dawn, a breakfast joint situated halfway between a short-order diner and a four-star luxury-hotel restaurant. It’s no coincidence that chef/owner Dee Nguyen used to cook at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, home of OC’s most-celebrated luxury brunch. All his years there taught Nguyen the art of the egg: encased in tempura, poached, fried and served with linguiça, duck, even beef tongue, all trotted out quickly and usually by Nguyen himself. The crème brûlée French toast— made with Mexican chocolate, then draped with caramel-chocolate sauce—has made many a mom want to pinch the chef’s cheeks in gratitude. Because she loves you, she won’t ever tell you so, but she’ll take it over your pathetic attempts at toast and eggs any day. 24351 Avenida de la Carlota, Laguna Hills, (949) 587-9418; breakofdawnrestaurant.com.

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