Food & Drink

  • Best Coffee

    Vienna-Style Cappuccino at Kéan Coffee

    This remains the closest thing to a perfect cup of coffee in Orange County. Kéan coffee beans are hand-roasted by owner Martin Diedrich—yes, that Martin Diedrich, son of the man who founded Diedrich Coffee in Costa Mesa after moving here from Guatemala 40 years ago—to bring out the full flavor of each particular batch. It's a tad sweeter than the… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse


    But the Diedrichs aren't the only one who know how to roast a bean in these parts. The marvelous, full-bodied taste of Kaffa! coffee is so extraordinary it's a small wonder the place was founded by a biochemist. But apparently the same drive that had Justin Wong mixing chemicals in beakers sent him around the world to concoct the perfect… More >>
  • Best Mexican Mocha

    Viento y Agua

    These days, when you're in Mexico, hot chocolate is usually, sadly, made with powdered Nestlé crap. The crumbling of pure dark-chocolate bits into a slow melt-and-simmer dance with milk or water is quickly becoming a thing of the past. But not at Viento y Agua (Wind and Air), where the coffee shop's purveyors have taken the old Mexican tradition to… More >>
  • Best Omelet

    The French Omelet at Babette's Feast

    This boulangerie/patisserie in Long Beach's Belmont Shore bakes its own bread and pastries, but you're missing out if you don't try one of their omelets, which are always cooked to tender perfection. You can't go wrong with any egg dish on the menu, including quiche, but the true piéce de résistance is the French Omelet. Filled with thin-sliced smoked salmon… More >>
  • Best Hamburger

    The Counter

    Ever since Oprah plugged it, the Counter has been a runaway hit in LA. And chances are you've already been to the first OC branch in Irvine. But if you haven't, here's a tip: Forget even picking up that pencil. Just put it down. We know it's tempting, what with all the burger toppings at your disposal. But trust us—you… More >>
  • Best House Salad Dressing

    Biagio's Italian Restaurant

    At a glance, it's difficult to see inside Biagio's Italian Restaurant from behind its big wooden doors. Those who have, however, know that this is the place to get salad dressing. Humbly titled "House Dressing," its recipe is a securely guarded secret passed down only to members of the family who have owned and operated Biagio's since 1975. While many… More >>
  • Best Salsa

    El Calamar

    According to the restaurant's chef, it's just a generic Mexican salsa recipe. Key word here is Mexican. Instead of the mild, bland salsa you find at most gabacho-friendly Mexican joints, which tastes like a combination of tomatoes and water, this stuff has spice. And it's made fresh every day from ripe tomatoes, onions and a hefty dose of arbole, also… More >>
  • Best Mysterious Condiment

    The Herb Sauce at the Gypsy Den

    It's green and creamy and goes with chips like angels with heaven. In fact, it goes with everything just divinely. Use it as a salad dressing? Sure! Sandwich dippage? Of course! We're pretty sure it's blended . . . maybe. And there could be a smidgen of mint . . . possibly. The truth is that nobody can decipher what… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    Katella Deli

    With the perfect amount of chewiness on the outside and airy squishiness on the inside, the bagels at Katella Deli are the best around. The restaurant has an expansive menu, featuring everything from knishes and matzo-ball soup to Cobb salads and bacon omelets, but it's the stand-alone bakery that can't be missed. Bagels in classic flavors such as egg, poppy-seed… More >>
  • Best Pho

    Pho Dakao

    Seemingly every third restaurant in Little Saigon sells pho, but few specialize in pho ga—chicken pho, a gentler, sweeter take on the Vietnamese soup. What distinguishes the smallish diner Pho Dakao from the hundreds of other pho palaces is the chicken itself—slaughtered that day at a sister company that sells live chickens a couple of blocks over. The difference between… More >>
  • Best Bun

    Pho Hien Vuong

    Okay, so Pho Hien Vuong is supposed to be a pho house—Orange County's oldest, in fact—but the best thing on this Vietnamese soup joint's menu just might be the bun tom and cha gio, a fantastic pile of rice vermicelli topped with pork egg rolls, peanuts and charbroiled shrimp. The shrimp are always perfect—two or three grill lines per crustacean—and… More >>
  • Best Com Tam

    Com Tam Tran Quy Cap

    If you think the name's a mouthful, wait until you see what they serve: meats of every kind heaped onto plates of broken rice. The choices are limitless—grilled pork chops marinated with lemon grass, snappy-skinned Chinese sausages as shiny as mirrors. All are the best versions of themselves here, where most combos won't cost more than $10. But the crowning… More >>
  • Hot Taco

    Best Birria Taco

    Hot Taco

    If you're lucky enough to sample a fine goat stew in your lifetime, you're luckier if you get to sample it from a big steaming dish of birria, piled high with cilantro and onions and made tangy with just the right amount of lime. Second best is a meaty birria taco, also piled high with cilantro, onions and lime. The… More >>
  • Best Burrito

    Peńa's Restaurant - CLOSED

    You don't expect much from Peña's Restaurant the first time you visit—saddles for seats, too many portraits of charros and Pancho Villa, this tiny Santa Ana operation seems like a tourist trap worthy of Olvera Street. And the menu also seems Del Taco-bad upon a cursory reading—tacos, burritos, enchiladas . . . snore. But read the fine print. Notice that… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Brussels Bistro

    Let's get one thing straight: when we talk about the best fries around, we're talking about thick-cut, slightly salted, long-stemmed beauties that fry aficionados seek out like hounds. And in OC, there's solid competition. This year, we're in love with the savory pommes frites at Brussels Bistro. Okay, so they're not French, but who cares? These long Belgian fries, served… More >>
  • Best Fried Okra

    Johnny Rebs'

    There is no better precursor to freshwater catfish, Cajun sausage or Southern-fried chicken than a hefty serving of fried okra. The green nubs, fried crisp on the outside in a light cornmeal batter and tender on the inside, are the South's hearty, delicious equivalent of edamame. Enjoy a half or full order at Johnny Rebs', and you'll happily forget you're… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    Jerry's Dogs

    We've put Jerry's on this list before, long ago. In the intervening years, we've shunned them for cheap national chains and Chicago imports. But now we're coming home. Jerry's Dogs stands firm as OC's very own hot-dog joint, roasting their snappy-skinned Jerry's Signature Dogs ($3.75) and heartburn-inducing Jalapeno Hot Links ($5.15) over a wood fire and winning accolades from other… More >>
  • Best Tuna Melt

    Memphis Cafe, Santa Ana - CLOSED

    Forget sliced bread. This tuna melt is your basic cafeteria-style mix of albacore, celery, lemon and pepper, but it's served on a fresh, lightly toasted baguette. Tastes great with Memphis' signature string fries and a bottle of Stella Artois. Be forewarned, though: It's not available at the Costa Mesa Memphis, only at the Santa Ana location.… More >>
  • Best Meatloaf

    At Last Café

    It's easy to imagine a bad, lumpy meatloaf. But a good meatloaf—the kind you find in an older aunt's or grandmother's kitchen—is hard to come by. At Last Café, a tiny jewel of a place that might be missed if you're not paying attention (it's tucked into a narrow wedge of Orange Avenue, just a block and a half up… More >>
  • Best Samosa

    Vegetarian Samosa at Niki's Tandoori Express

    Unlike the vegetarian samosas at most Indian restaurants, which tend to be served in pairs and are on the fluffy, scorching-hot, somewhat-greasy side, those at Niki's Tandoori Express' are swollen, baseball-sized mounds of starchy bliss—no grease, no regret. Just don't order two of them; that'd be a stand-alone meal. They go great with the spicy tandoori-chicken lunch special, complete with… More >>
  • Best Pizza

    First Class Pizza

    These joints spare few ingredients on their pies, even when it comes to their cheese slices. Beneath a bed of thick, stretchy cheese is a spread of sweet tomato sauce. Their specialty pizzas have an abundance of toppings, but none overpowers the essence of the holy trinity: quality cheese, dough and sauce. Slices resemble New York-style pizza, but the crust… More >>
  • Best Calzone

    Ameci Pizza & Pasta

    The $5.99 cheese calzone has been on the menu here for more than 20 years. Warm, shaped like a football, and stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and maybe a few of the 15 additional toppings to choose from, this melt-in-your-mouth hunk of decadence can be picked up or delivered with a new sense of what it truly means to… More >>
  • Best Salad

    Salmon Salad Nicoise at La Creperie Cafe

    La Creperie Cafe is best-known for its fantastic crepes, omelets and croque monsieurs, but you'd be doing your taste buds a disservice to ignore this fanciful take on the traditional southern French salad: baby greens, steamed haricots verts, bell peppers, boiled eggs and potatoes, Kalamata olives, and grilled salmon with a Dijon vinaigrette. The salad is available for both lunch… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Kyochon - CLOSED

    The chicken at Kyochon is double-fried, rendering off all the subcutaneous fat and transforming the skin into a thin, shimmering crust of crackle. It's lubed in one of two sauces: mild garlic soy or a spicy Korean pepper-based glaze that makes the chicken taste like Buffalo wings soaked in kimchi juice. For $16.99, you get a plate of 20 wings,… More >>
  • Best Garlic Shrimp


    Unlike most Mexican restaurants, which tend to translate camarones al mojo de ajo as garlic-butter shrimp, Enrique's serves this delectable meal with an absurd amount of roasted garlic that isn't drowning in grease. You'll need an extra order of tortillas to wrap around the eight Goliath shrimp—not to mention the rice and beans—that come with the meal. Ask for a… More >>
  • Best Boba

    Cha for Tea

    Boba, or tapioca-pearl tea, is now as familiar as the Frappuccino. But unlike the blended concoction, a perfect boba tea isn't so easy to come by. At Cha for Tea, the boba balls are consistently plump and soft, and they absorb just enough of your tea's liquid to give them a tailored taste. The secret to Cha's success, it seems,… More >>
  • Best New Bar

    The Crosby - CLOSED

    Every young artiste dreams of being involved in a venue like the Crosby. Bookstore, restaurant, art space, club . . . pretty much whatever owners Phil Nisco, Chris Alfaro (a.k.a. Free the Robots, the increasingly popular OC electronic duo) and Mark Yamaoka want it to be. Given the hassle they experienced getting Santa Ana to allow them to open the… More >>
  • Best Restaurant

    Avanti Café

    Take a hole-in-the-wall. Bless it with two visionary owners/chefs, Mark Cleveland and Tanya Fuqua, who don't let ego get in the way of running a restaurant. Mix in a menu that changes every three months, daily specials, International Tuesdays (when junior chefs execute excellent three-course stabs at cuisines from Morocco to the Dominican Republic, Bulgaria to Paris), Beer-and-Pizza Wednesdays, and… More >>
  • Crow Bar and Kitchen

    Best New Restaurant

    Crow Bar and Kitchen

    We've seen its ilk before—new restaurants that huff and puff their locally grown produce, but end up a little limp on the delivery. Not Crow Bar and Kitchen. Heck, you won't even care where it sources its grub or that it's labeled a "gastropub." Everything is cooked so well, with precision befitting the best of Napa and New York. The… More >>
  • Best Service In a Restaurant

    Go Goo Ryeo

    Forget those tony, overpriced restaurants where great service is expected. Our kudos for best service goes to a place where there really shouldn't be any: a Korean barbecue spot. These establishments are, by their very definition, supposed to be DIY. Not so at Go Goo Ryeo. Go when they aren't too busy—say, a typical weeknight, and they'll hover over your… More >>
  • Best Décor in a Restaurant

    The Cellar

    If you've ever wanted to dine at a beautiful French winery minus the chilly temperature and concrete floors that amplify your private conversations, then the Cellar is the perfect, romantic rendezvous. Modeled after French wine cellars in Burgundy, it's tucked away in Fullerton's historic Villa del Sol building. After descending a flight of narrow stairs through a thick oak door,… More >>
  • Best Waterfront Dining

    The Beach House

    Ocean views are accessible from anywhere on the Beach House premises (sans the bathroom). But you can only watch the waves crash from their outside patio, a highly coveted spot. Only about six tables are there, so make a reservation, but if you forget, there are always the huge Bloody Marys to tide you over while you wait. Views are… More >>
  • Best Use of Someone's Garden

    Dosa Place

    Since 2003, Dosa Place owner Vijaya Vidulla has cooked the wondrous dishes of his native Andhra Pradesh in India, particularly dosa, a crispy, foot-long crepe stuffed with curried potatoes and everything from cashews to ground goat. No need to order these, though, because his buffet is one of the best meals in Orange County every week, stocked with organic veggies… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Restroom

    The Women's Room at Rutabegorz, Orange

    Decorated from top to bottom in kitschy mermaid and ocean-themed décor, this might just be the most fun you'll ever have peeing (or whatever else). Vintage pink fish chalkware, stained-glass panels of Ariel herself, handcrafted goods with glued-on sparkly stones, and, for some reason, a framed cut-and-paste homage to Audrey Hepburn. Even the toilet seat is hand-painted with seashells. Totally… More >>
  • Best Place to Dine Alone

    Mitsuwa Food Court

    You could eat by yourself anywhere and still manage to look inconspicuous. But at the Mitsuwa food court, you'll blend into the crowd like a needle in a haystack full of needles. Throughout the room, they have long, curvy, bar-type tables and raised stools set up for this very purpose. And because this is a food court, you don't have… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    Back Bay Bistro

    This excellent restaurant—surprisingly so, as it's tucked in a hidden corner of an RV park—recently graduated from Back Bay Cafe to Back Bay Bistro. It's undergone a stunning transformation worthy of its winning beach-grill cuisine, which ranges from burgers and sandwiches to stuffed salmon and prime rib, all served with panache. But on a bright, sunny day, you'll want to… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Break of Dawn

    Bowls of steaming-hot pho? Check. Poached eggs encased in tempura? Check. Créme brûlée French toast? A chef/owner from the Ritz Carlton? A 90-minute wait for brunch? Check. Check. Check. This is Break of Dawn, one of the sweetest Cinderella stories on the OC food scene and now a bona-fide local phenom. To think it only took a few determined food… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Dining

    Rooster Cafe

    After closing down the clubs, pretty much any place still serving food—especially breakfast—is wonderfully gratifying, right? Unfortunately, night owls usually only have random fast food franchises or nasty Denny's to pick from. Then along came Rooster. During the weekend, this diner is open until 3 a.m. The décor isn't much to look at with those bleary eyes (bare and minimal,… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Schooner or Later

    Located in the Belmont Shore Marina, Schooner or Later has a big deck with a great view of a bunch of boats. But people don't come here for the view or the salty breeze; they come because Schooner or Later (which is only open for breakfast and lunch) is probably the one place where you won't feel embarrassed guzzling a… More >>
  • Alice\'s Breakfast in the Park

    Best Place to Eat a Cinnamon Roll and Feed Ducks (While It Lasts)

    Alice's Breakfast in the Park - CLOSED

    While the food here isn't totally outstanding—just your typical comfort food and sammies—it's their fresh, warm, available-all-day cinnamon rolls that are worth the trip. The place looks like something every crafty 50-year-old mom in Orange County got together to decorate: faux birds in cages, ribbon everywhere, handcrafted wooden signs, cat everything. It's probably the best place to view Christmas decorations… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Paul's Coffee Shop

    Watson and the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop are perennial faves for this category, but neither match the multicultural party at Paul's Coffee Shop in Fountain Valley, a small dive with as much love for the Marines (flags, logos, posters, pictures of John Wayne in The Sands of Iwo Jima, even honest-to-goodness vets in their VFW caps stopping in for… More >>
  • Best Buffet

    Asia Buffet

    We know you've been burned by the likes of it before: Chinese buffets with cornstarched glop they call sauce and chunks of leather they try to pass off as meat. But trust us—Asia Buffet is different. First, ignore the fact that they don't bother defrosting the sashimi and that they dump the raw fish onto a pile as hideous as… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Take the Kids

    Beach Pit BBQ, Costa Mesa

    Skip the local McPlayplace, and instead take your kids to a place where they can get some fresh air and good food. In the "front yard" of the small house that is the Beach Pit BBQ proper, you'll find a white picket fence surrounding an Astroturf paradise, with a molded-plastic playhouse and climbing/sliding tower, plus an assortment of toys (lawn… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Spoil Your Kids When They're Too Young to Even Be Grateful

    pomme bébé

    With a nearly all-white interior complete with a baby-food bar that has pod-like highchairs, pomme bébé looks more like an iPod than a place that hawks baby food. pomme bébé (all lowercase, of course) offers fresh organic baby food. Their slogan: You don't eat out of a jar, so why should your baby? The colorful goo and more solid toddler… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    California Fish Grill

    We know. We picked California Fish Grill last year. But in these times of foreclosures, lost jobs and general economic malaise, how could we, in good conscience, pick anything else? Seafood ain't cheap, after all. But somehow, California Fish Grill still manages to charge no more than $10 for meals that usually go for double everywhere else. Salmon, ahi, mahi… More >>
  • Best Steakhouse

    Mastro's Ocean Club

    So we tapped Mastro's for this category last year, but that was Mastro's Steakhouse in Costa Mesa. Mastro's Ocean Club is in Crystal Cove, but it serves the same steaks (about $40) as its sister restaurant, identical down to its cell structure. Both are gold-brick-sized hunks of tender cattle served on plates as hot as the surface of the sun.… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant

    Au Lac

    While any carnivore or vegetarian would enjoy the menu here, which includes such Asian veggie standards as beef and broccoli and kung pao chicken, the only real way to thoroughly appreciate Au Lac is if you've been exposed to authentic Vietnamese food. This is the restaurant to revisit all the dishes your mom made you eat growing up: "fish" cuon,… More >>
  • Best Reason to Give Up Vegetarianism


    "Seven courses of beef": four words that will either make you shudder or salivate. Either way, it's not as excessive or gluttonous as it sounds. Don't expect a meat orgy like at a Brazilian churrascaria or think of "courses" in the way we Americans think of courses. Instead, imagine Pagolac's signature dish (around $15 per person) as mostly small bites… More >>
  • Best Food at a Bar

    Slidebar Cafe

    If we told you that local-OC-boy-made-good/Lit guitarist Jeremy Popoff opened up a rock & roll bar and restaurant in Fullerton, you'd think, "That sounds like a cool place to get hammered." And you'd be right. But what if we told you that the food they serve (around $15-$20 per person) is unequivocally awesome? Juicy buffalo burgers twice as buttery as… More >>
  • Best Food-Court Eatery

    Franco's Pasta Cucina

    Franco is known in hushed circles as the Pasta Nazi, á la Seinfeld, an irascible, moody genius who doesn't take crap or special requests. You want extra cheese? Bring your own. Trust that his pasta is good the way he makes it. Countless celebrities think so, too. There they are, pictured with their arms around him in photos plastered all… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Blake's Place

    Gene Hobel and his wife, Sandy, named their barbecue joint after their son, Blake, who was born around the same time the place started doing business. In the 13 years since, the boy has grown up, but the food they produce stayed the same: served on Styrofoam plates and priced so reasonably low ($10-$18) you'll wonder how lesser barbecue chains… More >>
  • Hamamori

    Best Place to Eat If Someone Else Is Paying


    Great sushi has never been cheap, but no one else in OC has been able to get away with charging as much as James Hamamori does. Dinner for two at his eponymous South Coast Plaza eatery will climb into the triple digits faster than you can say "omakase" ($80 per person for food, an additional $40 for wine or sake… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Cheapskates

    Lizarran Tapas - CLOSED

    We're afraid that if we told you Lizarran Tapas marks down the pintxos to a dollar each on Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m., you'd take up all the seats, crowd the counter space and grab the tastiest morsels all for yourselves. You see, we're cheapskates, too, and we know a good deal when we see one. So please go… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Formosa Chinese Food

    With a menu spanning more than 150 dishes, cheap prices and specials on every page, Formosa is a foodie's dimly lit, claustrophobic dream. But the real fun lies in the motel restaurant's two hidden menus—the one written in Chinese characters on a whiteboard, and the one known only to the ornery owner, who's nevertheless helpful in your quest for the… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant


    North Indian cuisine is so last century, yet you'll toss out such culinary snobbery after just one meal at Haveli. The service takes a while, but that's because they're probably putting every spice in the subcontinent into your meals. Don't rush—admire the interior: dolls, luxuriant couches out of the Raj, the same damn raga for hours on end. Most of… More >>
  • Best Persian Restaurant

    House of Kabob - CLOSED

    Reward yourself here with the softest, moistest koobideh you'll ever have ($6.99-$9.99). This tube of meat—roasted on a sword over a lapping fire—is just about the best thing to happen to ground beef. But first, take a scrap of pita bread and drag it through their garlicky hummus or, better yet, the kashk o bademjon, a dip of mashed eggplant… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    La Perla Tapatia

    Most Mexican restaurants stick to gabacho favorites at the exclusion of regional specialties, or focus on a state cuisine and ignore enchiladas and other Southwest standards as if they were the Minuteman Project. Striking a happy medium is La Habra's La Perla Tapatia, a dive where the only niceties are the handmade leather chairs and tables imported from the Mexican… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Kappo Sui

    While you nosh on that teriyaki bowl at Yoshinoya, your Japanese friends know better. They go to Kappo Sui—a Japanese restaurant meant for Japanese people. A list of specials is scribbled in Japanese script. Finding an English speaker in the house is a challenge. But before you begin to feel like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, the food starts… More >>
  • Best Sushi Restaurant

    Maki Zushi

    You can find more expensive competitors to Maki Zushi (particularly the closer you get to the beach), but what sets this place apart is the consistent, superior freshness of its sushi. Opened a little more than two years ago in a small Tustin strip mall, chef Yoshio Sakamoto's Maki Zushi wins accolades from a diverse cross section of folks. During… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Bangkok Taste

    Every foodie with a Yelp account swears by Stanton's Thai Nakorn as the best Thai restaurant in the county, if not Southern California. While its meals never disappoint, a better, less-crowded option is Bangkok Taste. Spartan in design save for elaborate place mats detailing various Thai fruits, vegetables and dishes, the dive sells such American obsessions as pad Thai and… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Bún Bò Hue So 1

    The trend in Little Saigon for the past couple of years has been to "upgrade" restaurants—clean the floors, buy better ingredients and increase the price by half. Pass. Give us the unpolished glories of Bún Bò Hue So 1. Give us the wonder of its namesake soup, a rude, spicy, red broth spiked with bits of pork blood and pepper,… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Flavio's Italian Kitchen - CLOSED

    For close to two decades, Flavio Renteria was the dishwasher. Now he owns the place, and his name's on the sign. Don't expect Mozza by Batali. This is a neighborhood, red-sauce Italian joint where a karaoke machine is routinely rolled out and Wednesday nights are devoted to all-you-can-eat pasta. You should order the lasagna ($10.25), a perfectly executed dish served… More >>
  • Best Reason to Annex Artesia and Cerritos

    Magic Wok - CLOSED

    Write your local politicians, people, and tell them you want to annex Artesia (and its prettier sister, Cerritos), so they'll become part of OC. Why? To claim Magic Wok—arguably the best Filipino restaurant in California—for ourselves. Not to be confused with the Chinese takeout chain of the same name, every dish here is cooked to order, priced no more than… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Fullerton Downtown Market

    While Irvine's ever-growing Saturday Farmer's Market across the street from the Barclay Theater gets all the attention, Fullerton's version is better. In addition to the usual farmers' market specialties—organic veggies, grass-fed meats, crafts, artisan cheeses—the city also provided the organizers with a plaza specifically built to host stalls. Instead of having farmers spread their tents across a hot asphalt lot,… More >>
  • Best Deli

    International Meats and Deli

    As Garden Grove goes through yet another redevelopment pipe dream, let's pray they're smart enough to not touch International Meats and Deli, the Hungarian-run standard best-known for its kolbasz, the Magyar version of a kielbasa, with more spices and juice—and it's a hell of a lot smokier. The Teglas family make their kolbasz on the spot and stocks dozens of… More >>
  • Best Chinese Breakfast

    Champion Food Co.

    Pancakes, schmancakes. If you want to eat breakfast the way 1.3 billion people on our planet do, go to Champion Food Co. From 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., the otherwise-humble boba shop transforms into a Chinese breakfast factory. The most popular item is a sandwich-taco hybrid of shredded beef and scallions stuffed inside a wrapper half as thin as a… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream


    Combining the best of American, Mexican and Antarctic sensibilities, Znow's, opened earlier this year, also mixes in quirkiness (Jean-Paul Sartre political posters, a store newspaper) with Americana (ice cream kept in ice-filled barrels, façades of shop fronts and row houses). But ambiance is second to flavor in the Weekly's food guidebook, and Znow's delivers in flurries: perfect mango nieve sprinkled… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Japonaise Bakery & Cafe - CLOSED

    Cream Pan, Tustin's beloved little Japanese bakery, recently expanded into bigger digs with a shiny espresso machine and a new name. The baked goods, however, smell just as sweet. Crusty loaves with long, determined gashes. Sugary dough domes filled with azuki and cream. All are spectacular. But we've got two words for you: strawberry croissant ($2.20). It's a pastry perfect… More >>
  • Best Dessert

    Beard Papa's

    It may not have taken off like frozen yogurt, and it's got a hell of a lot more calories, but we love Beard Papa's cream puffs for all their bulbous, craggy, pock-marked crustiness, with a vanilla custard cream that's pumped in only after you order. Once you pay your two bucks, consume it immediately. If you dilly-dally, it degrades into… More >>
  • Best Frosting-to-Cake Ratio

    Susie Cakes

    Yeah, this place opened up as a response to the belated cupcake craze that happened here on the West Coast yeeears after capturing our East Coast brethren, but the cakes at Susie have the most ridiculous amount of thick, creamy frosting atop their old-timey favorites (red velvet, carrot cake, German chocolate, marble cake, fudge cake) and not-so-old-timey favorites (tropical coconut… More >>
  • Best Cupcake


    Fucking cake. It's sooo good when it's done right. But sometimes, an entire cake is too much for one person. So God invented cupcakes, which can literally make or break one's day. Luckily, Sprinkles in Newport Beach has you covered. Their yummy morsels are baked fresh all day and hand-crafted from such fine ingredients as sweet cream butter, pure Madagascar… More >>
  • Best Candy Store

    Powell's Sweet Shoppe

    This is the only candy store we've ever seen that has made a grown man's eyes light up—and then had him drop $35 on a month's supply of Charleston Chews. Fairly new to the Second Street slew of (mostly) family-friendly stores, cafés and restaurants, Powell's has everything you could ever want when it comes to sweets: from Necco Wafers and… More >>
  • Best Homemade Chocolate

    C. Salt Gourmet

    Courtney Dudman Donley worked at the Gypsy Den for years before deciding to follow her dreams: creating gourmet chocolates. The result is C. Salt Gourmet, which will redeem your faith in the transformative powers of sweets. Working with fresh ingredients from the comfort of her Long Beach kitchen, Donley crafts irregular squares laden with pistachios, berries and other odd, delicious… More >>
  • Best Frozen Yogurt


    While Yogurtland and Pinkberry duke it out for OC frozen-yogurt supremacy, a little-known pasta joint in Irvine has quietly begun doling out its own fro-yo. Pastagina is a treat—tart, but not too tart; sweet, but not too sweet, with just the right amount of creaminess. And when you order one ($1.50-$2.50), they'll adorn it with your toppings of choice like… More >>