Behold the end of our 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! For the past couple of months' we've list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and pick up your copy of our latest Best Of issue today
This week is our annual Best Of issue, our ode to everything fantabulous and wonderful about Orange County. But my favorite dish for 2015 (not an official category . . . yet) is nowhere near the best food in OC, yet it's worthy of all the eating in the world: anything prepared by Naugles.
Yes, Naugles! The Mexican fast-food chain from the 1970s and 1980s that seems to evoke more nostalgia in middle-aged Southern Californians than anything since the old Coppertone billboard off Interstate 5 near Buena Park. I never ate Naugles growing up, so I was absolutely clueless why any posts I did about its slow return over the past couple of years would immediately go viral, why people would ask me about its rise from the dead. And that's why the place is my favorite for this year: Longtime local food blogger Christian Ziebarth not only fought a legal battle with Del Taco (who absorbed, then closed Naugles in the early 1990s) for its expired copyright, but also won--and how awesome is that?
Ziebarth is still trying to find investors for a full-fledged restaurant; in the meanwhile, those of ustedes who grew up with Naugles can go to a Fountain Valley test kitchen any weekend (although call in advance, lest they've run out of food, so much are they in demand). As for those of us who wouldn't know a Naugles from a Taco Tia? Here is Cal-Mex cuisine at its most glorious. Burritos come with cheese and ground beef, slathered in a red sauce more savory than anything spicy. It sells cups of beans and ground beef and recently introduced a bun taco--ground beef in a bun (you were able to order it at Del Taco for years, if you were in the know). Ziebarth vows to introduce even more old Naugles items, such as an orange sherbet drink and an Ortega burger . . . and that's it.
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There is nothing innovative about this food--and that's the point. Naugles is an exercise in nostalgia, the culinary equivalent of Lazarus. And if Ziebarth could succeed, imagine the possibilities! Paging the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop!
2. Tofu Puffs and Glass Noodle Soup at Din Tai Fung 3. Chilaquiles at Anepalco 4. Amuse-Bouches at Stonehill Tavern 5. Apple Cheddar Empanadas at Shuck Oyster Bar 6. Any Panini at Paninoteca Maggio 7. Prix Fixe Dinner at Napa Rose's Chef's Counter 8. La Zi Ji Ding at Chong Qing Mei Wei 9. Grilled Cheese at Sessions West Coast Deli 10. Lobster Beignet from Slapfish 11. Lunch Buffet at Vishnu 12. The Choco Taco (and Everything Else I Ate) at Playground 2.0 13. $3.95 Filipino Breakfast at Grill City 14. "Not Pa' Ella" at Anepalco 15. Trout at the North Left 16. Fatteh at Kareem's Restaurant 17. Charred Sous-Vide Octopus at Lola Gaspar 18. Strawberry Shortcake from Disneyland's Plaza Inn 19. Korean Funyuns at The Past Memories 20. Chicken Curry Sandwich at C'est Si Bon Bakery 21. Quail at Medii Kitchen 22. Pulled Pork Sliders at Big B's Barbecue 23. Beef Panaeng at Essential Thai Cuisine 24. Muhammara at Aleppo's Kitchen 25. Chicken 65 at Annapoorna 26. Protein-Style Lobster Roll at Slapfish 27. Nem Nuong Cuon at Brodard Restaurant 28. Coffee Eclair at La Petite Sourie 29. Mango Tango Joe Latti at Joe's Italian Ice 30. Chicken Wasabi Yakitori at Kappo Honda 31. Carrot Cake at Alta Coffee 32. Egg Tart at 85 Degrees Cafe Bakery 33. Fried Torn Baked Potatoes at Wagyu Chuck 34. Green Onion Pancake Beef Roll at 101 Noodle Express 35. Green Tea Snow at Snow Station 36. Plato's Salad Bowl At Falasophy 37. The Benedict Omelette at Egg Cracker 38. Fig & Burrata Tart at Driftwood Kitchen 39. Lemon Steam Cake at SideDoor 40. Frog Legs at Cafe Beau Soleil 41. Banh Khoai at Huong Vy 42. Bibimbap at Morangak 43. Salade Niçoise at Bistro Papillote 44. Poke at Bear Flag Fish Company 45. Tijuana-Style Carne Asada Tacos at Tío Flaco's 46. NM Style Enchiladas at Panxa Cocina 47. Pan-Fried Crispy Noodles With Shredded Pork at Phoenix Food Boutique 48. The Happy Hour Menu at TAPS 49. Pork Cutlet Curry at Cafe Hiro 50. Piadina at Piadina 51. Consomé de Barbacoa at El Torito Nuevo 52. Black Goat Casserole at Mirak 53. Wagon Wheel at French's Cupcake Bakery 54. Molletes at Taco Maria 55. That Awesome Hot Sauce at Akropolis 56. The Hermanator at Peter's Gourmade Grill 57. Bolsa Bao at Baos Hog 58. Full Moon Roll at Full Moon Sushi 59. Fried Chicken at Plaza Inn 60. Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen at Ramen Yamadaya 61. Three-Meat Combo at Robert Earl's BBQ 62. AYCE Sushi at Sake 2 Me 63. Yaki Dog at Burntzilla 64. Fruit Sorbet at the Playground 66. Dulce de Leche Walnut Shrimp Taco at Dos Chinos 65. Buñuelo Waffle at Waffles Inc 67. Cajun Seafood Pasta at The Big Catch 68. Belgian Fries at Wursthaus 69. Scoops x Contra Ice Cream Float at Scoops Ice Cream Santa Ana 70. Buttermilk Panna Cotta at Lola Gaspar 71. Hummus at Mick's Karma Bar 72. Savory Baked Goat Cheese Bread Pudding at Eat Chow 73. Sicilian Style Pepperoni Pizza at Perry's Pizza & Italian Restaurant 74. Kabocha Honey Nuts at Kabuki 75. Smashed Potatoes at Standing O 76. Dim Sum at Seafood Cove #2 77. Loco Moco at Bread Crumb Ohana Cafe 78. Bratwurst at Barley Forge 79. Beef Noodle Soup at (Wafting Fragrance) Noodle House 80. Taco de Nopal at Urban Cactus 81. Fried Chicken at Crazy Chi-Mac 82. Mole Tots at Amor y Tacos 83. Khao Soi at S.T. Noodle Bar 84. Chili Cone Queso at Cozy Cone Motel 85. Crispy Smelt at Big Catch Seafood 86. Teriyaki Chicken Plate at California Plate 87. Combo Plate at MasalaCraft 88. Cornbread Waffle & Chicken at Mrs. Bea's 89. Everything at Crispy Town 90. Kurobuta Pork Belly Bánh Mì at Mendocino Farms 91. Tostilocos at Tortas y Biónicos "Nice" 92. Milanesa at Delicias Peruanas 93. Super Nachos at Kelly's Korner Tavern 94. Tortas at Sliced and Diced Eatery 95. Seasonal Dumplings at Coconut Rabbit 96. Burrito de Birria de Res from Burritos La Palma 97. Bò Kho at Song Long Restaurant 98. Pancake Sandwich at Willowick Golf Course 99. Tahdig at Tanor Fresh Mediterranean Grill 100. Quatro Formaggi Panini at Old Vine Cafe