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Food & Drink

  • Best Filipino Restaurant

    Sawali Grill

    Seven small tables, one of them covered with cookies, pastries and other Filipino desserts in plastic boxes. Not a single white face in the place. All good signs you're going to be eating the real deal. Go to the counter and tell the woman behind the glass what you want. Served turo turo (cafeteria) style, she drops two huge scoops… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Blue Frog Bakery

    If you'd like to get away from the standard artery-cloggers posing as fast breakers 'round town, the Blue Frog Bakery's Vegi-Burrito will stuff your gut without stopping your heart. The O'Brian potatoes, scrambled eggs, avocado, zucchini and tomatoes stuffed into a large tortilla is a two-fister topped off with a side of salsa perfection. If cholesterol isn't an issue, the… More >>
  • Best Brewery

    Left Coast Brewery

    "This is my favorite bar that isn't a bar," says a regular inside Left Coast Brewery's tasting room as he sets down two empty growlers and sits at the bar. He picks up a pint glass with the brewery's logo on it and asks if it's the biggest glass they have. It is. You can taste whatever's chalked on the… More >>
  • Best Pie

    Pie-Not

    Whichever individual 5-inch pies you choose at this Aussie newcomer, comfort food meets up-to-the-minute freshness and inventiveness. "Shortcut pastry shell with a puff-pastry lid" is how Pie-Not describes the perfect enclosures for the tender, juicy fillings. The Dog's Eye is the place to start, a ubiquitous meat pie Down Under; it's like having the best tomato-basil-mozzarella panini of your life… More >>
  • Best Pie You Can Only Get In a Narrow Window Sometime Between Fourth of July and Labor Day

    Jongewaard's Bake and Broil

    The fresh peach pie is a mountain of sliced-fruit perfection altered only enough to be called pie.… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Dining

    Harbor House Café

    Everyone knows about Harbor House's encyclopedic menu, its open-all-the-time ethos, and the satisfying quality of its food, but the best part of this OC landmark is the people watching. In the afternoon, we've seen expensively dressed moms with kids in tow hand off the family's doggie bag to a man sitting on the ground who looks as if he has… More >>
  • Best Bread

    OC Baking Co.

    Dean Kim is probably the most influential Orange County food producer you've never heard of, a man whose expertise in bread provokes local restaurateurs to hound him at midnight for a dinner roll, a hot-dog bun, a baguette, a loaf of olive bread—anything involving wheat and leavening that might emerge from Kim's hands and massive ovens imported from France that… More >>
  • Best Vegetables

    Chapter One: The Modern Local

    This downtown SanTana madhouse has food for everyone—epic burgers for the gluttons, adobo-sauced hot wings for the multiculti, flatbreads for groups, bacon doughnuts for sweet tooths—yet its best dish is the simplest: the organic OC vegetable basket. Every couple of days, the chefs get a shipment of vegetables from a local farm and sautée the harvest, only adding a sauce… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    James Republic

    James Republic isn't perfect. But with every new day, it gets closer. As with any new restaurant opened in this century, the ingredients are seasonal and the menu non-permanent. One visit, the Pacific walu—a beautifully seared fish from Hawaii, with snow-white flesh as moist as the meat off a freshly steamed crab—can come with sharp goat cheese, sautéed broccolini and… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Vishnu

    Come in the morning or late afternoon, and Vishnu looks like any of the other anonymous businesses in this monochromatic John Wayne-adjacent office park: unremarkable. But when the lunch hour strikes, it begins. First, you see a trickle of people, then, all of a sudden, a crowd as thick as what you'd find at a Mumbai train station at rush… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    LinX

    In owner Scott Brandon's words, his job at LinX is simple: to bring Dean Kim's OC Baking Co. buns and Paddy Glennon's sausages from Europa Specialty together and "just not fuck up their hard work." But Brandon has done more than practice restraint. Starting with these premium components, he has elevated the tube-steak sandwich to art. The lip-numbing Sicilian, the… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Soy Tofu

    With a spartan amount of décor and plain copy-machine paper as placemats, Soy Tofu might at first appear to be the kind of place that cuts corners. But the more you settle in, the more you realize it focuses its efforts where it counts: on the food and the service. The kalbijim is extraordinary, an immense stew of intensely flavored,… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant

    Au NatuRaw

    Order the pad Thai and be amazed not at how it's completely vegan and, not to mention, raw, but because of how it has made you forget it's either one. Dishes such as this are the charm of Au NatuRaw, a vegan restaurant that does what it does because it believes that cooking destroys all the nutritive value in food… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Thai Nakorn

    Even after Thai Nakorn was forced out of its original Buena Park location, then suffered a devastating fire when it moved to Garden Grove, the venerable restaurant topped our Best Of list, and this year, it does it again. There are two Thai Nakorns now—both thriving and producing the food we've always used as the benchmark at which to measure… More >>
  • Best Korean Barbecue

    Surah

    Pluck off the kalbi while the fat still ripples. Nibble on panchan in no less than a dozen varieties. There will be sardines and boiled daikon covered in an adobe-red chile paste, canary-yellow squares of chilled potato salad, and kimchi—lots of kimchi. Then scrape the squeaky meat off the tiny marinated clams and slurp some cooling cubes of gelatin marinated… More >>
  • Best Culinary Experimentalist

    Shawn Xa

    Year after year, this category has been dominated by chefs who change their menus up for the sake of doing it, some of them daily. Shawn Xa has the same kind of restless mind. When he opened Xa Sweet & Savory Café, he served only chicken. And on these perfectly cooked, juice-bursting, tender, breast-meat fillets—a protein usually not apt to… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Izakaya Ku

    Order the mackerel dish, then stand back. The waiter comes out brandishing an acetylene torch. He flicks it on to a roaring whoosh. As he waves the blue flame over the fish, fine spatters of grease fly as though sparks while the skin begins to contract and the smoke rises. Sooner than you think, the dish is done. He pushes… More >>
  • Best Dessert

    Simmzy's

    It'll stick to your spoon as well as your teeth. Both your dentist and family practitioner would probably advise against ordering it. It's tooth decay and diabetes in a cup. But if you're going to have dessert, you might as well have Simmzy's chocolate S'mores pudding, a deceptively simple but oh-so-ingenious chalice with bittersweet chocolate pudding on the bottom, a… More >>
  • Best Steakhouse

    The Hobbit

    It's not actually a steakhouse, but owner/executive chef Michael Philippi prepares a beef entrée for just about every menu. And you will devour five courses before you reach the most amazing steak. The tenderness of the cut and the silkiness of its accompanying sauce will hold your attention, even as your belt screams for release. And as you lick the… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee

    They had us at huckleberry. A carefully arranged tray of doughnuts stares from behind glass. Other trays flank it, each one holding some mouth-watering, seasonal flavor, but these purple-topped beauties have our heart. Oh, yes. The doughnut itself is more muffin that airy cake, but it's a berry-bedecked treasure that fills us with joy. And the glaze? It's neither too… More >>
  • Best Old-School Food Truck

    Alebrije's

    Any truck that serves a dish that translates as the battleship taco deserves this spot. Any truck that paints itself an Elvis Cadillac pink and did so long before the luxe-lonchera craze deserves this spot. Any truck that blasts the sinuous sonideros of SanTana's own KWIZ-FM 96.7 La Rockola from morning until night deserves this spot. Any truck that serves… More >>
  • Best New-Age Food Truck

    The Burnt Truck

    "Gourmet sliders" don't always thrill us—they're usually best for scarfing down during wedding cocktail hours so we don't hit up the open bar on empty stomachs. But the ones artfully assembled by the Burnt Truck transcend miles beyond grab-and-go filler food passed around on a silver tray. The fried-chicken slider is spectacular, a comfort-food medley of buttermilk fried chicken, country… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Chong Qing Mei Wei

    When you see Sichuan food-lovers wiping away sweat, rubbing napkins over their noses, panting and looking generally miserable, you know they're having a damn-good meal. Chong Qing Mei Wei—the Beautiful Flavor of Chungking—is the county's most legitimate source for the addictive, mouth-numbing regional fare, with its time-honored belief that most dishes taste better when tossed with sliced serrano chiles, peppercorns… More >>
  • Best Off-Menu Entrée

    Playground

    Eaters have known of Jason Quinn's mercurial brilliance ever since his days running the Lime Truck. And this trait—maddening to some, exhilarating to anyone who loves great food and has a life—has only escalated with his Playground in downtown SanTana. Not only does the regular menu change daily—even hourly—but the secret offerings also sometimes change by the minute, all depending… More >>
  • Best Taco Tuesday

    Matador Cantina

    In the middle of downtown Fullerton's madness, Matador Cantina serves great cocktails and fine dinners, but its Taco Tuesday deserves a shout-out. The tacos overflow with the meat of your choice: carne asada, carnitas, chicken, even vegan. If you want to go classier, the lobster tacos are nicely seasoned and feature chipotle mayo on the side for that extra kick.… More >>
  • Best Pho

    Pho Quang Trung

    The Little Saigon staple makes a pho ga (chicken pho) so tasty and satisfying that on your first slurp, you'll forget you just circled the strip-mall parking lot three times and waited seven minutes for a driver to methodically unload grocery bags into a minivan. Steamy and intoxicating, this bowl isn't the wimpy introduction to pho it often gets branded… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Cucina Alessa

    Once one of those "hidden gems" curious diners would stumble upon if they were lucky, Cucina Alessa has become the county's titan of Italian cuisine. At the two-story Huntington Beach spot, closed-eyed moans of delight greet dishes that fuse tradition with modern-day badassery. The zucca, a butternut squash ravioli smothered in brown butter and topped with fried sage leaves, is… More >>
  • Best Pizza

    Ciao! Deli & Pizzeria

    First thing you notice when you walk into this deli-cum-pizzeria is the walls are bombarded with memorabilia: sports posters, pictures of Italy, post cards, etc. Plus, classic Dino is on the sound system. The quirkiness of this family-owned spot is matched by its food, especially the pizza: a hearty pie with wonderfully gratuitous amounts of cheese and toppings spread out… More >>
  • Best Hamburger

    ARC

    You don't swing by ARC to "grab a burger." No, ordering the off-the-menu monstrosity takes preparation—mental, physical and financial. (Tip: Starve yourself beforehand.) The gargantuan, wood-fire-cooked, $20 beast starts with a sturdy, cornmeal-dusted bun, one capable of supporting the bloody, juicy slaughterhouse dripping inside. Short rib? Check. Rib-eye strap? Check. Chunky, chewy bacon lardons? You betcha. And it's all bound… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Lola Gaspar

    Lola Gaspar makes the most out of its finger food, from the guacamole and chips to the bacon-wrapped dates. But the french fries deserve special attention: lightly salted and exquisitely sized in all their thick, rectangular glory, fried to golden brown, they're perfectly crispy on the outside without losing their soft inner texture. These fries cease to become any meal's… More >>
  • Best Burrito

    Fiesta Grill

    You'll have to trek to Surf City for this beauty, which serves a bevy of burritos. Take a dive into the wet burrito, for which the chef smothers a tortilla-rolled delight in a liberal amount of salsa (verde or rojo—what's your pleasure?) that tastes as if it were abuelita's, if your abuelita were a Cal-Mex matron whose real name is… More >>
  • Best Cupcake

    Susie Cakes

    Owner Susan Sarich kick-started her own bakery using both her grandmothers' old recipes, ones she grew up on in her native Chicago. The result: relevatory cupcakes that make the fad something substantial. Red velvet is everyone's default favorite, but the mocha-flavored cupcake explodes with life in your mouth, from the frosting to the moist, bready mass. And the sublime frosting… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Kareem's Restaurant

    The longest-standing Middle Eastern restaurant in Anaheim's Little Arabia approached a crossroads that might have otherwise seen the shuttering of its doors. Mike Hawari, who had run the kitchen of Kareem's Restaurant with his wife, Nancy, since the late 1990s, passed away last year. It was the always-affable chef's wish that she continue with their culinary creations without him. Sellers… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Sushi Wasabi

    The sign on the front door of Sushi Wasabi reads, "We serve ONLY SUSHI and HAND ROLLS. We can Serve Best Sushi because we go to Fish market then we buy GOOD FISHES = Trust Me = No To Go." There are no California rolls, no caterpillars, no spiders—don't even try. The restaurant seats around 25 people, and spots are… More >>
  • Best Sandwich

    Hollingshead's Delicatessen

    It doesn't take fancy meat, artisan bread and cheese you can't pronounce the name of to make an incredible sandwich, and Hollingshead's Delicatessen's Great Scott is a testament to this. The recipe is more than 50 years old and came from the mind of Grandma Schulte, a crucial part in upholding the business in the early days. Thin slices of… More >>
  • Best Deli

    El Gaucho Meat Market

    It's more of a butcher shop than a deli, but if you need a prime cut of meat and sandwich materials—it's prime (cue the corny trumpet sound). You'll find most of the same things you would at a Mexican market, but El Gaucho Meat Market is Argentine—precisely the reason why the meat is so good. You can get anything from… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Ambiance

    The Corner

    If the tapas-portioned American food and craft cocktails were only half as pleasing as they actually are, this place would still deserve kudos for having successfully replaced the gawdawful Chinese restaurant that preceded it. (Trying to remember the name brings a bout of PTSD.) Even more amazing is the remodeling job that has opened up, brightened up—and dare we day… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Taco Maria

    For the past couple of years, Carlos Salgado roamed the streets of Orange County with his Taco Maria luxe lonchera, wowing hipsters and wabs alike with his stunning takes on Mexican food. He shuttered the truck to focus on a full restaurant inside the OC Mix, and while Salgado could've just replicated the menu that won him a rabid following,… More >>
  • Best Restaurant

    Anepalco's Café

    Danny Godinez could've stayed with his original Anepalco's Café near St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange, and his legacy in Orange County restaurant history would've been secured gracias to his chilaquiles, an unthinkable concoction of Mexican, French, high-dining and street-food technique that won a fanatical following who continue to line up every weekend for brunch—and you should, too. But this wasn't… More >>
  • Best Taco

    Soho Taco

    All of Soho Taco's creations impress, but the best ones are those you can only get for about 30 days. At the beginning of each month, its always-attentive social-media team announces the special taco that head chef Gabriel Zambrano has concocted—barbacoa sluiced with a salsa de aceite; lobster on a blue-corn tortilla; salty cecina; even chilorio, a style of fried… More >>
  • Best Diner

    Galley Café

    It's hard enough to find a diner in this county that has been around longer than you've been alive, but none are harder to physically locate than the Galley Café in Newport Beach. Deep down a dead-end road, you'd have no chance of stumbling upon it unless you own a yacht in the adjacent marina. An old-fashioned milkshake mixer and… More >>
  • Best Wings

    Santora's Pizza Subs & Wings

    A beer bar and wing specialist, Santora's Pizza Subs & Wings has been around since Mission Viejo was still mostly empty hills. It sources big, meaty wings, fries them with exquisite skill every time, then sluices them with the One True Wing Sauce. Should you ask for them extra crisp? Of course. Should you expect a spectrum of heat from… More >>
  • Best Sausage

    Aurora's Chorizo

    Inside a tiny pie wedge of a building that stands meekly adjacent to one of the busiest Mexican supermarkets in the city is Aurora's Chorizo. You'll find several varieties of its namesake sausage in a refrigerated display case. "What's the difference between these three red ones," you'll ask, and you'll be shown the spicy red, mild red and meatless soy… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    The Beachcomber

    If you're going to dine outdoors in this county, go all the way and eat on the beach—sand in your toes, with the crashing din of the waves a constant dinner companion. The Beachcomber occupies an old house amid the rental cottages of Crystal Cove State Park, all of which date back to the 1930s and '40s. Park across PCH,… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Au Cœur de Paris Bakery

    You shouldn't be surprised to learn the county's best French bakeries are in a cluster in Little Saigon to support a community that's as picky about their baguettes, croissants and macarons as any arrondissement in Paris. And that's the case with Au Cœur de Paris Bakery, also known as Le Versailles. It supplies crisp-crusted baguettes to many top restaurants and… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    5th Ave. Bagelry

    It figures that finding bagels with the characteristic chew of New York's finest contribution to breakfast requires a trip to the border of Cypress and Buena Park. One of the only places in this county that can make a real lox-and-bagel sandwich without incurring the wrath of New Yorkers is 5th Ave. Bagelry. And that's why there's always a line.… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream

    Delicias de México

    While there's a large display case with all homemade ice cream in such popular flavors as guanábana and beso de ángel, most patrons of Delicias de México gravitate toward the chest freezer that holds the paletas, milk- or water-based ice pops that make you forget you'd ever heard of an Otter Pop.… More >>
  • Best Waterfront Dining

    SOL Cocina

    Mexican food you can boat up to? No, you're not in Zihuatanejo; you're in rarefied Newport Beach, and chef Deborah Schneider's menu reflects that, with upgrades to the usual taco fare that include only-in-Mexico specialties such as tacos gobernador and tacos vampiros. Sit near the window, sip from the good tequila selection and make sure nobody makes off with your… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Burrell's Bar-B-Que

    This legend, still in the heart of SanTana after all these years, seeing its surroundings turn from OC's sole African-American and Samoan neighborhood into part of the city's ever-expanding barrio, is about as down-home as barbecue gets. Indoor dining? Forget about it—just picnic-style seating outside, where you can really bond with your dinner party while hunkering over a full rack… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Vien Dong

    When Vien Dong opened its doors at the tail end of the Vietnam War in what was then a sleepy little suburb, its owners couldn't have known it would be the first flag planted in what would become a microcosm of the Southeast Asian nation itself. Decades later, the restaurant is still going strong, serving up its northern-style food, including… More >>
  • Best Peruvian Restaurant

    El Misti Picantería Ariquepeña

    Little more than a long dining hall adorned with WPA-style farmer murals, El Misti prepares the diet of Arequipa, a city of about 750,000 acclaimed for its desiccated, hearty dishes and thunderously flavored drinks. The eatery also offers Peruvian standards for the unadventurous: coconut-milk-based chupe soups, the buttery stir-fried chow meins known as tallarines and savory pollo à la brasa.… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Mariscos Los Corales

    Forget Santa Monica Seafood or even California Fish Grill: the ultimate marine-meal empire in Orange County is Mariscos Los Corales, which can boast of two brick-and-mortar outlets and two loncheras. The most legendary of the bunch is the one parked just off SanTana's Main Street, the one that attracts everything from suited lawyers fresh from a day at the Orange… More >>
  • Best Fish Taco

    Los Cotijas

    There's a national food website we won't mention because it doesn't deserve any attention. Anyhoo, it put out a list of the best Mexican restaurants in the United States, a list that was immediately illegitimate because it excluded loncheras from the start. It broke down the initial voting by geographical region, and it got at least one thing right: Los… More >>
  • Best Coffeehouse

    McClain's Coffeehouse

    Good coffee and pretentious attitudes do not have to be mutually inclusive. At McClain's Coffeehouse, the coffee is straight-up with no fuss, the hot chocolate is steaming comfort, and the food is fresh and tasty. You never have to battle to find a cozy spot, and there are plenty of outlets. Plus, the owner is always playing good music. Sure,… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Portola Coffee Lab

    When it comes to coffee, what's best today may not be best tomorrow or next week—or even next year. Climate changes affect everything produced by small-lot coffee growers all over the world. But when you take as much care as Portola Coffee Lab does in selecting, roasting and brewing, you make sure that everything you present to your customers is… More >>
  • Best Farmers' Market

    Old Towne Orange Farmers Market

    Weekend, weekday, morning, afternoon, evening—farmers' markets continue to sprout around OC faster than we can keep up, and that's a wonderful thing. Our pick of the bunch, however, is the Old Towne Orange Farmers Market. Held every Saturday, rain or shine, it has what all great farmers' markets should have: organic fruit, a rainbow of vegetables, free-range eggs, freshly cut… More >>
  • Best Southern California Approximation of UC Berkeley's Asian Ghetto

    Corner of Jeffrey and Walnut streets, Irvine

    One block from UC Berkeley's campus sits a small plaza called Durant Square that's ringed by assorted restaurants. No one calls it "Durant Square," though; it's better known as the Asian Ghetto because you can get Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Hong Kong, Chinese and Taiwanese food, all on the cheap. (Awkwardly enough, there's also a doughnut place.) Not to be… More >>
  • Best Fish and Chips

    The Chippy Fish & Chips

    As with some of the best chip shops in England, the Chippy is tucked away, hidden from the main road. Buried in a strip mall's random food court, you can't even see it from the street. But the tiny, unassuming storefront dishes out fish and chips that rival Fleet Street. The fish is fried to a pale bronze, the batter… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Plums Café

    The Santa Fe eggs Benedict made with chipotle-cilantro hollandaise is reason enough for Plums Café to win Best Sunday Brunch in Orange County. Or maybe it's because of its Dutch baby, a deep-dish pancake-like concoction topped with powdered sugar and Oregon pepper bacon. We'll take one of each. The stylish café's brunch menu reads as if it were poetry: chocolate… More >>
  • Best Place to Ogle the Wait Staff

    Seabirds Truck

    Pretty much every Orange County restaurant has good-looking guys and girls staffing the place because the top 10 percent hotties from the rest of the country move here. But the women (and one token dude) of the Seabirds truck seem to have a hot-people-only hiring policy—or maybe living a vegan lifestyle contributes to good looks. We fell in love with… More >>
  • Best Place to Pick Up a One-Night Stand

    Cassidy's Bar and Grill

    The locals don't call Newport Beach institution Cassidy's "Catch-a-Disease" for nothin'. This seaside dive ain't big, which makes it all the easier to rub elbows (or whatever other body parts) with folks. The selection isn't always fancy, but it's usually plentiful—in booze and booty. You may spend a whole day reeling in your catch off nearby Newport Coast, but reeling… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour

    Gyu-Kaku

    Japanese DIY barbecue restaurant Gyu-Kaku offers happy hours to all sorts of lifestyles, not just lunch crowds or night owls. Happy hour is all day on Mondays, with a lunchtime happy hour (365 days per year!) from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. the rest of the week. Late-night happy hour begins at 8:30 p.m. (9 p.m. at the Brea location)… More >>
  • Best Punk-rock Bar

    Johnny's Saloon

    Going into a "punk bar" for the first time can be intimidating, but Johnny's Saloon in Huntington Beach is often referred to as the adult Disneyland (for the folks who prefer the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, of course). This dark bar is all about carefree fun and good times with good people. Take the late-night spectacle "Howdy… More >>
  • Best Bikini Bar

    Green Girl Saloon

    The thing that makes the Green Girl Saloon stand out is there's a whole bunch of nice things to look at—and we're not talking about the bartenders in bikinis and bras (more on them later). No, the owners actually put some time into making the bar resemble a Victorian-era smoking lodge, thereby making customers and bartenders feel more comfortable than… More >>
  • Best Pub

    The Olde Ship British Pub and Restaurant

    There's no mistaking where the Olde Ship's loyalties lie, with Union Jacks and White Star Line memorabilia on the walls and Britain-centric newspapers by the door. There's even an obscene amount of royal-family photos on display in the loo. The fish and chips are widely lauded (naturally) as some of the best in the county, and the burger here has… More >>
  • Best Bar/Club Night

    Alex's Bar

    Sure, the bar has polished up a bit; the drafts are classier and the cocktails craftier. But one thing hasn't changed at Alex's Bar—how damn challenging its weekly Brain Party Trivia night is. Owner Alex Hernandez has said, "You have to be a glutton for punishment to keep coming back," yet aspiring brainiacs do. Do you know what Luke Skywalker's… More >>
  • Best Beer Selection

    Hollingshead's Delicatessen

    The building's about the size of a liquor store, but the Hollingshead family has had five decades to figure out how to cram as many beer bottles in the deli as possible. There's a modest 22 rotating taps, plus 500 bottled beers on the floor just for fun. Stay and drink or pick out your favorite craft, rare and import… More >>
  • Best Wine Bar

    SeaLegs Wine Bar

    Designer Kenneth Ussenko nailed that perfect balance of chic and cozy at this newish bar—elegant dark-wood furniture is matched with airy New England linens and kitschy vintage art in the restrooms. Employees are friendly and eager to assist with any wine-related questions or recommendations—without a drop of snootiness. SeaLegs features a seasonal list of small plates to snack on (if… More >>
  • Best Place for a Pub Crawl

    Downtown Fullerton

    We're a bit limited in the pub-crawl arena, but when it comes to finding a place that's borderline Bourbon Street (and there is a bar called that) on the weekends, Fullerton wins. The nice thing is you can make the experience as relaxing or as wild as you want. The bars and restaurants on the periphery are low-key, and depending… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Velvet Lounge

    The busiest place on la Cuatro isn't a restaurant or a paisa bar; it's within the giant patio with the letters VLVT over it. Inside, some people are dancing, some are drinking, some are outside smoking, and most are just chilling. The bartenders may be the friendliest in the area, and you can actually talk to people, rather than stare… More >>
  • Best Bar in Orange County

    Posse Bar

    This is not a craft beer bar, though Posse Bar does have craft beers. It doesn't serve craft cocktails, though it does have a great whiskey selection. It's not a country bar, though most of the time the music has a definite twang. It's not even a cop bar, the patches on the wall and the giant sign out front… More >>
  • Best Bartender

    Joe Valdovinos

    Behind the bar at Playground in downtown Santa Ana, you'll find Joe Valdovinos working like a whirling dervish. From behind that sleek space come some of the finest cocktails in the county, each one absolutely perfect, every time. If you don't see something you like listed on the blackboard behind him, just give him an idea. Brown, bitter and stirred?… More >>
  • Best Lounge

    The Cocktail Lounge at Little Sparrow

    Craft cocktails are nothing new, even in Orange County, where trends roll in a couple of years behind everyone else. But it takes more than cocktails with block ice to make an inviting lounge (although that's surely a good start), so if you're not feeling in the mood for furry boots paired with bikinis or guys passing slightly oversized Brooks… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    Brian's Beer & Billiards

    It won the title of Best Neighborhood Bar, North OC for a couple of years now, and with good reason. But now it's time to recognize Brian's Beer & Billiards for something else. Here, you can relax, play pool and not listen to EDM or Top 40. Beer is enjoyed from large schooners. Hungry? Big B's Barbecue is next door… More >>
  • Best Martini

    Memphis At the Santora - CLOSED

    In this day and age of the cocktail renaissance, where bartenders are digging through dusty Louisville hotel menus or talking to their gramps about the days where Xs signified proof and not porn, serious drinkers have relegated martinis to the realm of Fuzzy Navels and Screaming Orgasms. That's why it's great to see Jefferson Van Billiard, head drinkmeister at the… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    La Palapa Del Mar

    If you're going to drink margaritas, you'd better be next to the beach—the cocktail first became popular for Americans in the resorts of Rosarito, of course. And while La Palapa Del Mar ain't in Baja, the view from its seats is pretty damn close. Its original $5 margarita (titled simply "The Margarita") is made with tequila, triple sec and fresh… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Long Beach

    Reno Room

    Good ol' Reno Room—so dark on the inside it's easy to lose hours of daylight into frosty cold beers and cheap drinks made with heavy pours. This charming dive is attached to a Mexican restaurant, Coco Renos, so you can order loaded nachos from the bar. And there's more! Reno Room has pool tables in the back, a jukebox up… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, South OC

    Turk's

    Back in 1992, when his dockside bar had been open about eight years, Turk himself told the Los Angeles Times, "It's like a person. It has a pulse. I can feel it when I walk in." This buzz could have been emanating from the former Muscle Beach body-builder; he has an IMDB page and earned the title of Mr. Los… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, North OC

    Take 5

    It looks like the diviest of dives, but inside is a 1970s-decorated wonderland. On slow nights, Take 5's regulars trade jabs with the bartenders and watch television together. On weekends, the place fills up with people taking the edge off their weeks. Most nights, someone's in the kitchen cooking (ask for Staci's tacos). It's a dive, but a clean, friendly… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Central OC

    The Quill Lounge

    This seems to be the bar that time forgot, and isn't that what all the longtime locals want? At the Quill Lounge, the bartenders are more likely to scoff at you if you order one of these newfangled cocktails or anything without Southern Comfort in it. If your grandpa hasn't heard of a beer, it doesn't have it. The Quill… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar, Coastal OC

    Shanghai'd Room

    Located off Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach, this spot has been home to many things dedicated to vice and pleasure, such as an illegal massage parlor and a watering hole named Bar Hookup. Now it's Shanghai'd Room (which actually isn't too different than Bar Hookup, except they strung up Chinese lanterns), a small bar for the freaks and geeks who… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    My Place

    You get more than peanuts and pretzels here for bar food; My Place has a full menu ranging from burgers to steak and lobster, all with large portions and served by hot waitresses. There are TVs everywhere, so no need to argue with your fellow patrons over which MMA match will replace which ESPN channel. And if you choose to… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Drinking

    McKenna's On the Bay

    To have a cocktail by the ocean and watch boats sail by is truly one of life's sweetest pleasures, and the back patio at McKenna's On the Bay, a restaurant docked on the border between Seal Beach and Long Beach, is as good as it gets. Happy hour starts at 3 p.m., live bands perform nightly (everything from calypso music… More >>
  • Best Signature Cocktail

    Don the Beachcomber

    While the debate over whether Trader Vic or Don the Beachcomber invented the mai tai will rage as long as the magma of Pele, we've got to hand Don the award for tastiest tropical beverage. Often referred to as "The Original," Don's Own Mai Tai is the ambrosial result of decades of artisan bartending, cocktail crafting and ingredient sourcing, all… More >>
  • Best Shot

    Chapter One: The Modern Local

    In addition to commandeering one of the finest cocktail programs in Orange County, the two Jeffs—gabacho Hall and Argie Jensen—behind Chapter One: The Modern Local also have a liqueur set out of Hi-Time Wine Cellars, ranging from South African creams to whiskeys made in a moonshine still from Lookout Mountain. But their rarest is the almost-illegal Agwa de Bolivia, a… More >>
  • Best Salvadoran Restaurant

    Cuzcatlan

    Over the past five years, the county's Salvadoran community has migrated to Anaheim and opened Salvadoran restaurants, largely leaving SanTana to the Mexicans. The best of the bunch is this spot, a pastel-hued wonderland that serves all the classics of the Salvi kitchen: fatty sopa de pata, masses of fried yucca, horchata with a cinnamon kick, and pupusas as thick… More >>
  • Best Iraqi Restaurant

    Al Tannour

    The intra-national diversity in Anaheim's Little Arabia enclave is such that you now have restaurants specializing in the dishes of specific countries—Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan—and even regions within a particular country. But the only place so far to specialize in Iraqi food is Al Tannour, which offers the kebabs, sambouseks and pita sandwiches necessary to placate newcomers who aren't familiar with… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Bakery

    Knafeh Cafe

    This bakery has been the go-to spot in Little Arabia since opening earlier this year, with Middle Easterners of all ethnicities and religions flocking to the increasingly pretty strip mall in which Knafeh Cafe stands. The knafeh is what largely draws people in, made fresh every morning and displayed on a tray that empties by midmorning, gets refilled, and then… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Snack

    Famous Donut

    It used to go by Famous Subs Sandwich Shop, serving sandwiches and doughnuts all night long to drunken patrons of Detroit Bar next door. Sticking to the doughnut game, Famous Donut's two stone-faced owners calmly pack your choice of pastry from the side window if you're visiting after dark; otherwise, walk right in to the smell of sweet baked goods… More >>
  • Best Argentine Restaurant

    Regina Restaurant

    Fans of this longtime standard, regionally famous for showing nearly every possible soccer match involving any team with even one Argentinean on its squad, feared the restaurant might close after the sudden death of its beloved owner, Elías Niquias, and subsequent purchase by a Peruvian family in 2011. But the owners understood what made Regina so popular in the first… More >>
  • Best Colombian Restaurant

    Donde Adela

    For years, we openly prayed in the food section of this infernal rag that God would grant us a Colombian restaurant; after all, Colombians make up the largest section of OC's South American community, and immigrant groups tend to open restaurants as their first business, so what the hell, Jesus? He heard us: Not only are Colombian restaurants starting to… More >>
  • Best Place to Simultaneously Feel Better and Worse About Yourself

    Foxfire

    No matter how desperate or creepy you are, there's always going to be someone worse off at the Foxfire, that legendary savannah for North County cougars. While the watering hole brings in gals putting on great game, it also brings in some really questionable types—the cleavage-baring, short-skirted, perfume-drenched, panty-flashin', can't-have-her-photo-taken-because-she's-really-a-schoolteacher type. It's not just an ego boost for women either;… More >>
  • Best Date Night With Minimal Effort

    Pitfire Artisan Pizza and Pie Society Bar

    Pitfire (www.pitfirepizza.com) sits along 17th Street in dark red with a pointed, wood-beam ceiling—easily missed if driving through Costa Mesa's latest trendy area, which makes it an even better place at which to impress. Parking is easy, as it has its own lot, and you order at the counter. The bar nooks, private booths and high-walled patio decorated with potted… More >>
  • Best Hot Sauce

    Gringo Bandito

    The Offspring singer Dexter Holland's Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce long ago left the realm of novelty and is now as ubiquitous in Orange County supermarkets and Mexican restaurants as Tapatío (and better, but that's another story). But becoming an Orange County institution for the second time isn't good enough for Holland, who continues to think of newer, better hot sauces… More >>
  • Best Restaurant to Go to After a Year Away from Orange County

    Brodard

    Orange County has the best Vietnamese food in the United States, of course, and the only reason why any other city in the country—save for San Jose—would ever say they have "good" Vietnamese food is because they've never eaten here. But why Brodard? Brodard is good across the board. Sure, there are places with better pho, better com tam, better… More >>
  • Best Boba

    Class 302

    Class 302 is one of the many Taiwanese places that have opened up in Irvine in the past few years, but it might be the one that most capitalizes on childhood nostalgia due to its school-room-styled interior. Of course that doesn't detract from the quality of its boba milk tea. Sealed in cups shorter and squatter than the rest, 302's… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant We Just Discovered

    Coconut Rabbit

    Our choice for king of Thai restaurants in OC isn't in dispute. But you can't have a king without a queen, right? And what an elegant queen Coconut Rabbit makes! Though it's located in a nondescript section of nondescript Katella Avenue in nondescript Los Alamitos, the room it occupies is an elegant, intimate, carefully curated boutique of sorts that's worthy… More >>
  • Best Indonesian Restaurant for Noodles

    Warung Pojok

    Ask people from Jakarta what food they miss from home, and it's likely they'll say bakmi ayam, a simple noodle dish served by street hawkers and the formidable chain restaurant called Bakmi Gadja Mada. The noodles are boiled, then tossed with a flavored oil in a bowl to coat every strand. Then in goes toppings of boiled greens and spoonfuls… More >>
  • Best Indonesian Restaurant for Gudeg

    Indo Ranch

    Gudeg is arguably the most soulful dish Indonesia has to offer: young jackfruit braised in coconut milk, palm sugar and spices until it turns soft and ruddy. It's the pride of a city called Yogjakarta, a burg forever linked to the dish as New England is to clam chowder and Buffalo to chicken wings. But in a cuisine already obscure… More >>
  • Best Yard of Meat In Your Mouth

    Taco Pronto

    Need food for a party? Forget the cardboard-y sandwich platter or the grease-fest of a bucket of chicken, and opt instead for the 3-foot burrito at Taco Pronto, a yard's worth of reason for why we need more Mexicans in this country. They come loaded with beans, your choice of meat, salsa, sour cream and a whole lotta chingón-ness. And… More >>
  • Best Place for Non-Vietnamese to Taste Bún Rieu

    Quan Hop

    Though Little Saigon has been a culinary treasure trove for more than a quarter of a century, some locals fear they'll feel out of place or won't like the food while exploring this area's restaurants. But those folks can tackle two milestones in a single trip if they go to Quan Hop and order the bún rieu. The Vietnamese noodle… More >>
  • Best Lunch for Less Than $5

    Taco Surf

    Monday through Friday, from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. (5 p.m. on Fridays), Taco Surf dishes out its signature tacos for just a buck. Even the Baja fish tacos—delicate white fish battered and fried to a copper-brown, topped with crunchy cabbage and creamy Baja sauce—are only $1 each. Skip the soda and drink water to save enough for two more… More >>
  • Best Nachos

    Taco Asylum

    If you order the guacamole nachos at Taco Asylum, you're done eating for the rest of the week. The kitchen combines potato chips with Oaxacan cheese, fresh guacamole, scallions, pickled red onions, queso fresco, salsa verde and other spices into a feast. Okay, you should order a beer as well.… More >>
  • Best Use of Tofu

    Taco Loco

    This hippy-attracting, peace-loving shrine of a cubbyhole off PCH in Laguna has enticed eaters for years. And though Taco Loco's fajitas, taco bar and mile-long list of nacho variations are spicy bliss, we can't help but order the same thing every time: the blackened mushroom and tofu burger. On a toasty bun brushed with mustard and ketchup (or a heaping… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Drunk on Rum

    Eva's Caribbean Kitchen

    We started counting the varieties on Eva's rum list, which blows away most high-end restaurants' wine lists, and we got to 100 when we realized we were only half way down the list and, frankly, getting thirsty. We recommend ordering a glass of her famous Tropical Rum Punch or one of the tantalizing Brown Suga cocktails—or just sip from a… More >>
  • Best Pork-and-Potato Paradise On a Plate

    O.C. Taco Joint

    It seems simple: french fries with succulent verde- (or red-) sauced pig flesh poured on top. The fries aren't oily, and the chunky pork comes undone in your mouth. But if it were so simple, why didn't you think of it? Because you're not as smart as Cindy and Paul, the owners, who've succeeded in creating a dish so addictive… More >>
  • Best Most-Missed OC Breakfast

    The Omelette Parlor

    It has been two years since evil Vons executives, who owned a Costa Mesa shopping center, forced the closure of Orange County's best, most popular breakfast hole, the Omelette Parlor. This place gave customers large, high-quality portions of every breakfast dish imaginable. And, oh, who could forget those heavenly bacon slices, apple butter for toast and near-lethal mimosas? Sure, Plums… More >>
  • Best Mussels

    Pier 76 Fish Grill

    Pier 76's rendition of moules frites (steamed mussels with french fries) will reset your expectations of the bivalve forever, especially if you've had thousands of lesser specimens before. The first morsel you dislodge with your tongue from those black castanet shells is so soft and practically melting you'll think it a fluke. But then, you eat the next one, and… More >>
  • Best Vegan Appetizer

    Taco Asylum

    The 2-year-old Taco Asylum is known for its meat. There's beef tongue, braised pulled pork, fried chicken, lobster, pancetta—and let's not forget the locally sourced rabbit that a few months back won the unwanted attention of the Animal Liberation Front, which staged a ham-fisted "action" at the upscale eatery that accomplished little more than starting an FBI investigation. We at… More >>
  • Best Dead Drinking Challenge

    Anthill Pub

    Patrons of UC Irvine's Anthill pub used to be able to prove their mettle by drinking one beer or glass of wine each weekday of an academic quarter from one of the best beer lists in Orange County. What would they get after three months of midday drinking and spending money? A personalized pint glass, their name on the wall,… More >>
  • Best Dessert Named "Heaven"

    Papa Hassan's Grill

    We're pretty sure this isn't the only dessert out there someone has decided to call "Heaven." When you see a dish called such anywhere other than Papa Hassan's Grill, it's because of a lack of imagination; but when you have it at this Little Arabia classic, it's because no other description is worthy. For the record, the proper name for… More >>
  • Best Kaiten Sushi

    Kaisen Kaiten

    Though purists might not like kaiten-style sushi, conveyor-belt-driven restaurants have their place. They're cheap, they're date-friendly, and, by goodness, they just feel more relaxed. With Sushilicious in Irvine and its hip pastel-shaded seating and indie-pop playlist gone, Kaisen Kaiten is once again OC's shogun of kaiten sushi. Food-wise, it was never a contest. Kaisen's colored plates were always better proportioned,… More >>
  • Best Black Coffee

    Alta Coffee

    Other places might have better lattes, espresso or flavored drinks, but no one has a better basic black coffee than Newport's Alta Coffee. The Alta Blend might be the most "Californian" coffee ever created—light and mellow with a skip in its step and a small smirk. It's not what you would call "rich," but when warm, it fills the soul,… More >>
  • Best Thing to Put in Your Trunk Before a Night in Newport

    Laventina's Big Cheese Pizza

    Newport bars on a Friday night are a combination of Mos Eisley Cantina scenes and Brazzers outtakes, and the collection of college students who can't hang, grizzled beach bums, bros and hos makes for exploits that will be retold for centuries, à la The Song of Roland. That means some preparation is in order, and nothing is more vital for… More >>
  • Best Food Plaza Connected to a University

    University Town Center

    The kids at UC Irvine have it so good nowadays. It used to be the only places to eat in University Town Center across the street from campus were two generic pizza places, a Lee's Sandwiches, Le Diplomat, a Golden Spoon, a small Japanese place, Asia Noodle Café, a Veggie Grill, Britta's Café, an In-N-Out, a Jack In the Box,… More >>
  • Best Place to French Kiss the Green Fairy

    BevMo!

    Ah, absinthe: Mind-scourging wastrel of artists throughout the centuries, this anise-flavored, green spirit—watered down and sweetened with sugar—was so high in alcohol content (and so often toxic from poor distillation) that it was thought to create hallucinations and madness. So feared for its hypnotic carnage it was banned in the U.S. for almost 80 years, it slowly made its way… More >>
  • Best Cheap Dim Sum Lunch

    King Lobster Palace

    Two people, Har-Gow, steamed sticky rice in a lotus leaf, deep-fried seaweed shrimp rolls, tofu, bean curd, sesame balls (with sweet black bean paste), $30.86 (including tip and two soft drinks). Stuffed and happy, with change in our pockets.… More >>
  • Best Use of Sea Salt In Coffee

    85ºC Bakery Cafe

    Even after trying to find a parking spot in the always-packed Diamond Jamboree shopping plaza, even after waiting in line for an hour, amazing doesn't even begin to describe 85ºC Bakery Cafe's sea salt coffee. (The staff even put it on tea!)… More >>
  • Best Hummus This Side of the Holy Land

    Papa Hassan's Grill

    When the bowl of hummus arrives at your table, you know the crater of puréed chickpeas mixed with tahini, garlic and lemon juice surrounding a small lake of fresh olive oil won't last long. As warm pita bread slices get dragged through this enchanting paprika-sprinkled scenery, you'll take note that it's a beauty to behold . . . and then… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat an Obscene Amount of Food

    Cham Sut Gol

    Sometimes, you just want to eat until you hate yourself. For times such as those, a table at Cham Sut Gol, the venerable king of Orange County gluttony, is a perfect place to pass your time, where the overindulging starts in the parking lot, which reeks of the sweet, sweet smell of burnt flesh. Apart from the plates and plates… More >>
  • Best Bar for the Geekiest of Geeks

    Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar

    The Lake Forest outpost of Buffalo Wild Wings is one of eight in Orange County, but what makes it special for the geekiest of the geeks is the shear amount of nerd-centric events it hosts. While other bars in Orange County are busy filling TVs with "sport ball" and people beating one another to near-death (all right, this place does… More >>
  • Best Place to Consume the Most Species At One Sitting

    Quan Minh Ky

    If you're the kind of carnivore who views a large menu as a long checklist, Quan Minh Ky is the place for you. It's a (small) step up from the usual no-frills eatery in Little Saigon, but the menu reads as though it's a Noah's Ark of delicious meat. Alongside the usual chicken, beef, pork, shrimp and fish are squid,… More >>
  • Best Lenten Fish Fry

    Holy Spirit Catholic Church

    Technically, Holy Spirit Catholic Church's fish fry is a fish bake, though what comes out is as beautiful a piece of fluffy, flaky white fish as can be found at any English pub, weighed down by a mountain of side dishes, including the best cole slaw in town. This is the most popular fish fry in the county for a… More >>
  • Best Food Gatherer We Need for the Zombie Apocalypse

    Joel Robinson

    When the zombies attack and those few of us who haven't had our brains eaten take refuge and begin to look for food, we're going to want Joel Robinson on our side. He knows just about every edible and poisonous plant in the remote, zombie-free (except Black Star Canyon) Santa Ana Mountains, and he'll keep us fed. Learning to make… More >>
  • Best Cougar Bar

    Tantalum

    It isn't really a cougar bar; it's not notorious the way other bars we won't mention are. Tantalum just happens to attract a set of women of a certain age in tight tube dresses who enjoy going out in groups. What makes it the best non-cougar cougar bar, though, are the drinks, several notches above the liquor-and-mixer swill of other… More >>
  • Best Mexican Market

    Northgate Gonzalez Supermarkets

    "¡NÚMERO VEINTIOCHO! TWENTY-EIGHT! ¡NÚMERO VEINTINUEVE! TWENTY-NINE!" The sound of numbers being called from the meat counter drowns out every other auditory stimulus: the rattling of carts, the blaring of banda music by paisas in pickup trucks outside, the Pandora-esque mix of Mexican regional classics blared by the in-store speakers, the incessant chitter-chatter of people buying groceries. Always get your number… More >>
  • Best French Baguette Made By a Japanese Person

    Cream Pan

    Attention, French people of Orange County: The best baguette de tradition in the county is made not by a man named Jacques or Gilles, but rather by a man named Yoshinori Inada. That's right, a Japanese baker is making the best baguettes in OC. They're long-fermented, perfectly crisp on the outside, and not too airy and light on the inside,… More >>
  • Best Lounge to Sit Quietly and Reminisce, Korean-Style

    The Past Memories

    Just a hop, skip and a parking lot away from Cham Sut Gol in Garden Grove is a little Korean lounge/bar/thing called the Past Memories. Staffed by motherly Korean women, it's a low-key, quiet place where the lighting is almost nonexistent and groups are segregated by the walls of booths. Yes, it serves food and plies customers with free Korean… More >>
  • Best Pickled Egg

    C4 Deli: The Cure for the Common

    Back in the day, every self-respecting bar had a jar of pickled eggs nestled among the cheap booze, its sulfuric tang and briny essence a great way to sop up the contents of your liver at the end of the night. The practice has gone the way of liverwurst, unfortunately, and society nowadays shudders at the very thought. So leave… More >>
  • Best Martini Hour

    The Beachcomber

    The best time to visit Crystal Cove is at sunset. But make sure you're on time for the Beachcomber's daily re-creation of a tradition first started by the cottage-dwelling locals decades ago: the raising of the restaurant's trademark martini flag, which, along with the blast of a bugle, announces the evening's happy hour. From the deck of the restaurant, you… More >>
  • Best Sushi Happy Hour

    Kampai Sushi House

    This may not be the most authentic or trendiest sushi place around, but it's a nice change from the spots that line Pacific Coast Highway, where your chef will have blond hair, be dressed in a Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirt and call you "dude" (assuming you are one). Located in a strip mall near the intersection of Katella Avenue and… More >>
  • Best Seafood Market

    Roe Restaurant & Fish Market

    Located just half a block from Belmont Shore's so-called "Horny Corner" at the intersection of Bayshore Avenue and Second Street, Roe Restaurant & Fish Market is still under construction. Sometime next year, there will be a full indoor dining area (and, who knows, maybe a liquor license?), but for now, there are just several tables on the sidewalk out front,… More >>
  • Best Udon

    Sanukiseimen Mugimaru

    Located inside Costa Mesa's Mitsuwa Marketplace, Sanukiseimen Mugimaru offers a way to enjoy freshly made udon noodles. As you line up to order, you can actually see the noodles being cut from fat rolls of dough, and then boiled in large vats. There are more than a dozen styles—everything from straightforward kake to tonkatsu udon—plus an equal selection of tempura… More >>
  • Best Spanish Food-and-Wine Import Shop

    La Española Meats

    It isn't exactly in Orange County or even Long Beach, but it's worth the drive to this industrial storefront just north of the Port of Los Angeles. La Española Meats delivers high-end Spanish ham around the country, but you can buy a leg and save the shipping fees by driving to this convenient shop in Harbor City. If cooking paella's… More >>
  • Best Lobster Roll

    The Beachcomber

    Nothing against the ahi fish tacos, which are a crispy delight, but after a morning of gentle body surfing and soaking your toes in the nearby tidepools, what you'll want for lunch at the Beachcomber are the lobster rolls. You get two of them per order, both grilled to buttery perfection with a touch of tarragon, then glazed with caviar… More >>
  • Best Milkshake With a View

    Ruby's Shake Shack

    Don't be intimidated by the line; the folks here work fast, and the shakes are worth the wait, which can be up to 30 minutes on a weekend afternoon. This historic spot overlooking Crystal Cove State Beach has a fantastic view and a great selection of milkshakes and shave ices, as well as standard Ruby's diner fare, such as hamburgers,… More >>
  • Best Cheese Salad

    Old Vine Café

    Whereas most caprese salads offer thick slabs of buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes garnished with olive oil and fresh, leafy basil, Old Vine Café's version goes in the opposite direction, finding a perfect balance of creamy burrata and crispy, pan-fried arugula that melts in your mouth. Tossed with sliced grape tomatoes and garnished with citrus-infused extra-virgin olive oil, the salad is… More >>
  • Best Chinese Taco

    Taco Asylum

    We're not sure exactly what makes Taco Asylum's Sichuan fried chicken taco Sichuan, much less Chinese, but who cares? It's the flavor that counts, right? The kitchen serves up a few tasty chunks of fried chicken garnished with scallions, five-spice yogurt, black garlic and black-bean purée. The soothing purée cuts nicely through the spice of the chicken and yogurt, leaving… More >>
  • Best Bloody Mary Selection

    The Attic

    Any brunch spot worth a damn will have a Bloody Mary on the menu, but the Attic goes a step beyond the ordinary with its build-your-own-Bloody Mary. First of all—and somehow this sounds more dangerous than it is—you can select your alcohol, and there's a variety of gin and vodka to choose from. From there, you add whatever you wish… More >>
  • Best Bar In Long Beach

    Alex's Bar

    Everyone loves Alex's Bar for the amazing music, for its cameo as Fangtasia on True Blood, for its griminess and sheer beauty, but within these walls lies a bona fide cocktail program. Owner Alex Hernandez oversaw a slight revision of the place to get his bartenders in line with the mixology craze, and the results are worthy of any hipster… More >>
  • Best Six-Pack

    Old Vine Café

    A lot of wine clubs expect you to shell out a hundred or so bucks per month for a few pricey bottles. That's fine if you're rich and prefer to let your wine collection slowly mature in the cellar. But what about folks who actually want to drink wine? You can let the experts at Old Vine Café do the… More >>
  • Best Sidewalk Dining In Long Beach

    The Original Park Pantry Cafe

    Located at the northeast corner of Long Beach's historic Bixby Park, this neighborhood café embodies everything the locals love about their town. The staff is warm and friendly, and many of them have been here for as long as the regulars can remember. The coffee is strong and fresh, the menu is huge (as are the portions), and you can… More >>
  • Best Hors D'Oeuvres

    The Hobbit

    This upscale Orange eatery might be famous for its gourmet prix fixe meals, but besides its unrivaled beef Wellington, the real star of the show is the Hobbit's wine cellar. At the Hobbit, after a cocktail at the mini-bar on the second floor, you file down to the basement and are greeted with a glass of champagne while you gaze… More >>
  • Best Cronut

    Cafe 109

    We weren’t that swayed by the cronut craze. Layers of croissant dough forming a doughnut? Meh. But then . . . the caramel “droissant” at Cafe 109 left us wanting more. Sweet, sticky caramel seeped from within the layers and pooled in the hole in the middle. Paired with a cup of the supercharged Kyoto cold-drip coffee, the caramel droissant… More >>
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