10 Essential Orange Restaurants

Jossue Rivas

Orange, with that cool roundabout in Old Towne and the legendary Watson's, also boasts restaurants that Tom Hanks didn't feature when he filmed That Thing You Do here. So here's a list of this town's eateries that your humble scribe has deemed his essentials. What's yours? Share 'em in the comments, would you?

As usual, the list is alphabetical--this time with no numbers so that it doesn't confuse those of you who don't read so good.

Anepalco's Cafe
Godinez putting the finishing strokes on his bomb-ass huevos divorciados
Godinez putting the finishing strokes on his bomb-ass huevos divorciados
Photo by Todd Barnes

There are two Anepalco's Cafe. Both are great. But this one has an easier parking situation and also, dinner is served. And it's then that Danny Godinez starts to really crack his knuckles and show you that Mexi-French cuisine isn't monopolized by Richard Sandoval's Raya at The Ritz. Baguettes are served with guajillo chile butter and dessert is from a roster of crepes that, of course, includes one with Nutella and banana. The single best dish has to be a pan-sautéed tilapia where Godinez turns a bargain fish into something as delicate as seabass. Everything you require from a French restaurant fish dish is present, from the coveted crispy sear of the flesh, to a silken potato puree, to a lick-the-plate good serrano beurre blanc an accomplished saucier would sell his soul to produce.

10 Essential Orange Restaurants
Christopher Victorio

Bruxie makes a waffle similar, if not identical, to the one cooked on the cobblestone streets of Brussels. The airy tic-tac-toe-patterned honeycomb, delicate as spun sugar and cut into quarter wedges from a bigger circle, is just as crisp, just as ethereal as an authentic Belgian waffle, even if the thimble of maple syrup it's served with peddles to our American expectations on what must go with a waffle. But Bruxie has gone beyond waffles as street-side treats or breakfast fodder. Bruxie is everywhere now, poised to conquer America. But it all started here, at the outdoor-seating-only shack reclaimed from an old Dairy Treet across from Chapman University.

Felix Continental Cafe
10 Essential Orange Restaurants
Todd Barnes

Felix Continental Cafe got a face-lift: They removed the light bulbs that bordered the old street marquee for something a little more tasteful. But other than that, it's business as usual. The decades-old Cuban restaurant looks like it always has-a little frayed around the edges, and it will probably remain that way even as cars start to fly. Insurmountable mountains of rice, black beans, plantains and yuca are standard starches on the lunch combos, stomach-stuffers in and of themselves. But the odds are stacked against you further at dinner, for which every meal includes either a soup or an unremarkable salad and a choice of dessert that, more often than not, will get boxed up along with the rest.

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