It's the most common question I'm asked: what are your top five restaurants? I was asked in my 20 Qs on Greer's OC earlier this year, and I punted on the question because every year we're told to make this list up, and it's hard enough to pick just five.
- Anne Marie's Top Five Drinks of 2012!
- Anne Marie's Top Five Restaurants of 2012!
- Shuji's Top Five Restaurants for 2012
5. Paninoteca Maggio
You could walk in to Paninoteca Maggio, order in Italian from owner Sharron Barshishat, sip an excellent espresso while you wait, and never have a clue you weren't in Cinque Terre or Genoa until you paid in dollars rather than euros. The sandwiches are simple but excellent; they're not very much more expensive than the schifo they serve at Quiznos, and they're orders of magnitude better.
4. Potzol den Cano
The love I have for the enfrijoladas at Potzol den Cano--thick tortillas dipped in bean sauce and wrapped around chicken, then topped with cheese and chorizo--is deep and abiding. I love the pozole too, which comes a close second to the family pozole recipe. I even love the tortas, simple as they are. What I love most about Potzol den Cano, though, is that it's a metaphor for Santa Ana: authentically Mexican without pandering. If you haven't been, you need to go right now.
3. Dat Thanh
Every time I hear someone complain that they can't get "normal breakfast food" at Break of Dawn, I cringe, because that's not why you drive to Laguna Hills. No, you drive for the tempura eggs; the shell shatters like sugar when you touch it with your fork, revealing a perfectly set white and a thick, runny yolk. You drive for the braised lamb with 62º egg, so softly cooked that it barely holds together. You drive for the Vietnamese take on smoked salmon, with green herb sauce atop savory oatmeal cakes. Denver omelet? That's what Woody's next door is for.
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1. THE RANCH
THE RANCH (their insistence on capitalization, not ours) is arguably the best thing to happen to Anaheim dining since Little Arabia; an upscale restaurant in an unlikely location just outside both tourist foci of the city, it serves truly farm-to-table food (the farm is in Orange Park Acres) and excellent steaks, chops, and roasted meats with what may be the best restaurant wine list in the county. Maybe that's why Anne Marie and I both chose it in our Top Five.